HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget director is defending the Democratic administration’s decision to fill several open jobs at the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

In a letter released Tuesday, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes maintains adequate regulatory staff is needed to “carry out our efforts to implement thoughtful energy policy and protect ratepayers from abusive charges.”

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano has raised concerns about PURA seeking new employees to fill at least three open positions, including two directors of utility regulation and an attorney. He says he was surprised to see the job openings given the significant budget challenges Connecticut is still facing.

Lawmakers had eliminated five vacant positions in PURA’s budget to save $495,999.

Barnes notes how hiring decisions “remain the purview of the governor.”