Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Issues Legal Opinion Concluding Governor Cannot Close Hamden DCF Facility

October 20, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal today issued a formal legal opinion concluding that Gov. M. Jodi Rell's administration cannot unilaterally close the Department of Children and Families' (DCF) High Meadows facility in Hamden.

Blumenthal found that the General Assembly specifically restored funding for High Meadows, which serves mentally ill children and their families. Because the legislature clearly intended High Meadows to remain open, the governor lacks authority to close it or seek termination of its certificate of need, Blumenthal found.

"We conclude that the General Assembly intended to fully fund High Meadows in the recently adopted biennial budget," Blumenthal said in the opinion. "We further conclude that the governor lacks the constitutional or statutory authority to close High Meadows."

Blumenthal said, "Closing this longstanding facility is absolutely barred by plain language and crystal clear legislative intent. The budget approved by the legislature and signed by the governor cannot be unlawfully disregarded. The governor has inherent powers to make some spending decisions, but none that contravene directly and indisputably an unmistakable legislative mandate."

Blumenthal's opinion said the legislative history clearly shows lawmakers intended to stop the Rell administration from closing the facility, citing a legislative Office of Fiscal Analysis report that says, "It is the intent of the (appropriations) committee that High Meadows remain open."

Blumenthal's opinion also cites a House floor debate during which Appropriations Committee Co-Chairman state Rep. John Geragosian (D-New Britain) specifically said the implementer bills do not close High Meadows or other facilities.

View the entire opinion to the General Assembly