Speaker declines Rell's invite for bond negotiation

Gov. Jodi Rell called legislative leaders to the governor's mansion for negotiations on the bond package Monday, but House Speaker Jim Amann (D-Milford) declined the invitation.

Amann said he asked that the governor meet only with him and the Senate president. Instead, Rell asked Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) to join them. Amann said meetings with the minority leaders haven't accomplished anything.

"We voted for a bonding package, they voted no. They had their say. We won on the floor of the House in a vote," Amann said. "We won. They lost. I don't need to have any conversations with them."

Rell proposed a compromise bond plan that is $120 million higher than her original proposal. However, the governor's revised package remains far below the $3.2 billion one passed by the Democrats.

Amann said he now has three options. He said Rell can sign the bond bill, which she has said she would veto, and allocate only what she deems necessary. Or, Amann said Rell can meet with the majority leaders and work on a compromise. Lastly, the speaker said he has the votes for a veto override, although he said he would rather not exercise that option.

Meanwhile, the state Judiciary Committee took a closer look Monday at Connecticut's prison and parole systems.

The head of the Department of Corrections testified before the committee, discussing such issues as prison population, parole and violent vs. non-violent offenders.

The issue of parole gained widespread attention following a deadly July home invasion in Chester. Two parolees are accused of murdering a mother and her two daughters. That prompted the governor and legislators to call for reform. Legislators have discussed re-classifying home invasions as violent crimes, re-working the parole board and strengthening the state's three strikes law.

So far, the governor had suspended parole for all violent offenders until further reform is decided upon.

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