HARTFORD — Republicans on Thursday lashed out at a proposed new $189-million Norwalk High School that was put on a priority list by Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, taking up near half the state’s $500 million school-construction plans.
State Rep. Lucy Dathan, a Democrat whose district includes New Canaan and Norwalk.
And while minority GOP lawmakers in the state House of Representatives unsuccessfully attempted early Thursday to strip the project from legislation, and it is likely to reach final passage in the Senate later in the day, the eventual allocation of funding isn’t certain, Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget chief said.
State Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan
“Obviously that debate is going to continue in the legislature,” said Melissa McCaw, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, during an unrelated event outside the Capitol Thursday morning. She described a “very detailed process,” which still awaits the proposal, which sparked Republican opposition and Democratic support in the House early Thursday.
Mayor Harry Rilling, left, and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, both favor a new $189 million Norwalk High School.
“Obviously there are pressing needs in Norwalk that the senator felt were critical and should be moved forward as expeditiously as possible,” McCaw told reporters, predicting the debate to continue on Thursday.
Early Thursday morning, Republicans charged that the project was improperly put into the annual list of new-school projects.
“We can’t afford this project,” said Rep. Tom O’Dea, R-New Canaan. “It’s taking up so much of the bonding.” he noted that towns like his give far more to the state in taxes than it receives. “We get less than a penny back of the dollars we send to Hartford.”
But Democrats including first-term Rep. Lucy Dathan, whose district includes New Canaan and Norwalk, said the school is needed and will foster important programs tied to the arts and advanced studies including a program backed by IBM.
“It really is an investment in our future,” Dathan said. “The current high school we have is over 50 years old. It was designed after a prison, not that aesthetics have anything to do with whether to do an update or not.”
The GOP attempt to strip away the high school portion of the bill failed 86-51.
[email protected] Twitter: @KenDixonCT