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MDC Should Have Role At Science Center

Hartford Courant

July 20, 2009

By wide margins, the state Senate and House passed a bill in June allowing the Metropolitan District Commission the Hartford area's water and sewer utility to raise $1.5 million from ratepayers over the next 10 years to sponsor an interactive water exhibit already installed at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford, as well as $500,000 for a "water program" at another site, probably the Children's Museum in West Hartford.

These educational programs are in the MDC's and museum-goers' best interest.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell thinks otherwise, unfortunately. Earlier this month she vetoed the bill. In her veto message, the governor said allowing MDC to increase its charges to ratepayers "simply so it can make charitable contributions" is "bad precedent."

But the MDC sponsorship of a Connecticut Science Center exhibit would not set a precedent, let alone a bad one. Indeed, the Clean Energy Fund and the Energy Conservation Fund, which take a small bite out of customers' monthly electric bills, are co-sponsors of the Science Center's energy exhibit. The Northeast Utilities Foundation sponsors the physics exhibit.

The benefits of increasing the public's scientific literacy are obvious. Learning about the ecosystem in the Connecticut River watershed or about the man-made infrastructure needed to manage vast volumes of water makes for better-informed, more useful citizens. If the state didn't think such exhibits had lasting value, officials wouldn't have approved $120 million in bond money to help build the facility.

The legislature meets today to take up the package of 20 bills vetoed by Mrs. Rell. Lawmakers should vote to override her veto of the MDC bill.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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