Former Connecticut Congressman Says Bye-Bye

Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons has said he's planning to leave state government, less than a month after lawmakers voted to make major changes to his business advocacy post.

Simmons, a Republican, told The Day of New London, in Saturday's edition, that he is working with Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office on "a transition plan" where he will "transition out of state government service" by the end of December.

"We've decided that under the circumstances, with looming budget deficits of massive proportions, that reversing what the legislature did would probably stand for six months or eight months and then we'd have to do this again," Simmons said, referring to conversations he had with Rell's advisers.

"My recommendation to the governor was to let it stand, to close out the office in professional fashion, to prepare an annual report, and to move on," he added.

As part of a budget-cutting move, lawmakers and Rell approved a deficit reduction plan that moved Simmons' independent Office of Business Advocate into the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The business advocate's office, created to help businesses with issues ranging from loans to training employees, had a budget of $599,271 for the current fiscal year, which ends June 20, 2009. Of that, $165,543 was earmarked for salaries and benefits for Simmons and a full-time clerical aide. The remaining $437,728 was budgeted for other expenses such as travel, office overhead, consultants and literature.

Under the plan approved Nov. 25, $225,000 of the office's unspent balance would be used to help cover the deficit and $80,000 would be transferred to the economic development agency to pay the salaries and benefits for Simmons and his aide until June 30, 2009.

Simmons, a former state representative from Stonington, served three terms as a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing the 2nd congressional district. He was narrowly defeated in November 2006 by Vernon Democrat Joe Courtney.

Simmons said he hasn't decided what he will do next. Some state Republicans consider him to be a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010 if Rell decides not to run for re-election.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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