Bristol’s GOP contingent fires back at gov’s budget chief

HARTFORD – Representatives Whit Betts (R-Bristol) and Cara Pavalock (R-Bristol), and Senator Henri Martin (R-Bristol) Wednesday issued a sharply worded group response to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget chief Benjamin Barnes, who in a Monday letter questioned Bristol Hospital on its use of health care funding:

“We are calling on the governor’s budget chief to retract comments made to Bristol Hospital officials in his provocative and slanderous letter which contained several unsubstantiated allegations.

“We are very angry and upset over this letter impugning the integrity and reputation of Bristol Hospital, and we are concerned about the potential adverse consequences this could have on future financial transactions by the hospital.

“Bristol Hospital’s response to Secretary Barnes’ letter clearly refutes his outrageous claims. If Secretary Barnes has specific examples and proof to justify his allegations, then he needs to provide that evidence in a meeting with hospital officials.

“We are curious as to why the governor’s budget chief chose to release his letter simultaneously to the media, legislative leaders, and to Bristol Hospital. We believe a better path for communicating his concerns would have been to call or meet with Bristol Hospital officials first, and depending on the outcome of the conversations, then send out a press release.

“We are also perplexed by the timing of this letter. What is its purpose? We believe the governor’s budget chief is attempting to lay the groundwork for not sending any more state money to hospitals as one strategy for addressing the future billion dollar state budget deficits projected for the next several years.

“Finally, the governor’s budget chief’s letter could undermine the ability of Bristol Hospital to increase efficiencies and to attract new providers by building a new facility in downtown Bristol. Opposing this project makes no sense. This new project offers so many economic benefits – access to more medical services, new jobs, new property tax revenue, and could serve as a catalyst to bring in more business, jobs, and revenue to Depot Square.

“As we all know, the State of Connecticut is desperate to create new jobs and more revenue.  Why is the state not encouraging and supporting this boost to Connecticut’s economy?”

House Republican Leader Themis Klarides (R-114) also added, “It is unfortunate that at a time when our hospitals are struggling to meet their bottom lines and provide critical services for the most needy and at-risk cases the Malloy administration complicates matters by throwing spurious, baseless accusations into the equation.’’