CT Mirror reporter Jacqueline Rabe has written a MUST READ series of seven stories about the controversies surrounding Connecticut’s public school system.

As her CT Mirror biography notes,

Rabe has won two first prizes from the national Education Writers Association for her work in 2012 – one in beat reporting for her overall education coverage, and the other, with Keith Phaneuf, in investigative reporting on a series of stories revealing questionable monetary and personnel actions taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. Before coming to The Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. She has also worked for Congressional Quarterly and the Toledo Free Press. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Jacqueline is in the public policy master’s program at Trinity College.

Here are links to Rabe’s recent series on education in Connecticut.








In illegal move, Malloy administration misleads public (again) on budget deficit

State law requires that on the 20th of every month, the Governor’s administration MUST inform the State Comptroller about any known budget deficit.  The State Comptroller, in turn, uses that information to help guide his mandated monthly report that is issued on the first of each month.

In October, Malloy’s budget division told State Comptroller Kevin Lembo that the budget was in balance, but as it turns out, that was a lie.

As Keith Phaneuf at the CT Mirror is reporting today;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration last month warned dozens of state agency heads of a significant shortfall in the current budget — but continues to officially report that finances remain in balance.

The $133 million revenue shortfall disclosed to agency heads on Sept. 6 was excluded 14 days later from the last official monthly budget forecast submitted to Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

Malloy’s top budget chief told Malloy’s commissioners that there was a deficit, yet day later, sought to mislead Lembo about the problem.  Lembo, in turn, provided the public with a report that wasn’t accurate.

Early last summer Governor Malloy and the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly adopted an austerity budget that cut vital services.  Governor Malloy swore the budget was balanced when he signed it.  Months later, when they knew there was a budget deficit appearing, they decided to overlook that fact when issuing their required financial report.

Six weeks before this critical election, Team Malloy choose to mislead the public.

As the CT Mirror explains;

Shortly after the budget was approved, analysts noted that summer income, sales and corporation tax receipts were weaker than anticipated. Since then, administration plans to save money from layoffs have progressed much more slowly than anticipated, further raising concerns about whether the new budget was balanced.

Still, the administration has reported no problems with the budget since the fiscal year began on July 1. It’s last monthly budget projection, filed Sept. 20 with Lembo’s office, held that finances were in balance and that revenues for the General Fund — which covers most operating costs in the budget — were coming in as anticipated.

Yet two weeks earlier, in a Sept. 6 memo imploring all agency heads to keep their spending requests lean in the next budget, Barnes estimated that General Fund revenues in the current budget would total $17.75 billion — $133 million less than the amount needed to balance the current budget.

What is the public to think when the governor of the state of Connecticut lies to the public about the size of the budget deficit?

Of course, the sad reality is that this isn’t the first time Malloy and his team have mislead voters about the budget in order to hide the truth for political purposes.

Remember, this is the governor who refused to admit there even was a deficit in 2014 until 10 days after he was re-elected to a second term in office. It was only then that the public was told about the growing fiscal crisis that lead to this year’s disastrous budget deal.


Connecticut ALERT: Malloy/Wyman Administration to punish schools and taxpayers for protecting parental rights

Last spring, in response to the State of Connecticut’s attempt to force students to take the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, a scheme designed to fail the majority of children by testing them on content that they have not been taught, a significant number of Connecticut parents informed their local school districts that their children would not be participating in the SBAC testing scam.

While many local school administrators joined the Malloy/Wyman Administration’s effort to lie and mislead parents about their fundamental and inalienable right to refuse to participate in the testing program, some school districts did stand up on behalf of their parents and students.

Madison, E.O. Smith (Mansfield, Willington and Ashford -Region #19) and Stonington were among the high schools that told parents the truth and respected parental instructions.  In each case, approximately 85 percent of high school juniors ended up opting out of the 11th grade Common Core SBAC test.

But now Connecticut’s State Department of Education is striking back.

With the federal government yelping about the “high” number of parents across the nation who opted their children out of the destructive Common Core tests, the Malloy/Wyman Administration recently announced that they will punish school districts that “allowed” parents to fulfill their legal right to opt their children out of the Common Core SBAC testing.

Let us be very clear about the legal issue involved. 

There is absolutely no law, regulation or policy that allows that Federal Government, the State of Connecticut or any local school district to force a child to take the Common Core SBAC test.  Even the Chairman of the Connecticut State Board of Education, who is a lawyer, admitted that fact before a special legislative hearing.

But that truth about parental rights is not stopping Malloy and Wyman’s political appointees (including the Commissioner of Education and the members of the State Board of Education) from seeking to punish the school districts in which local school administrators recognized and honored parental rights.

As the CT Mirror reports in an article entitled, “State sets penalties for schools with high exam ‘opt-out’ rates;”

School districts where more than 10 percent of students miss required statewide exams for a second consecutive year will lose funding and may have their performance ratings downgraded.

The state Department of Education decided on the penalties after the U.S. Department of Education directed Connecticut and 12 other states to come up with plans to deal with high numbers of students that missed the annual exams last school year.

Districts that achieve the federally required participation rate of 95 percent will receive a letter of commendation from the state education commissioner, and those that have participation rates between 90 and 95 percent will receive a letter reminding them they must raise their participation rate to meet the federal requirement.

“This approach will ensure that districts meeting the standard are commended, those failing marginally are gently alerted, and those falling behind are strongly reminded of the potential consequences and provided support to remedy the situation,” Connecticut Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell wrote in a letter to the federal government earlier this month. The letter was released Tuesday by the state education department.

It was not clear how much money the state would withhold from sanctioned school districts. The state gives schools performance ratings on a number of quality measurements, and schools that fall far short of required exam participation rates will be given a lower rating.

About 11,200 students did not take the state exams last school year — a growing trend referred to as the “opt-out movement.” It coincides with growing concern among parents that their children are spending too much school time being tested or prepared for tests.

School districts will begin facing the state sanctions based on whether too few students take the exams next spring. School district leaders will be notified by Jan. 15 of the potential consequences they face, and districts where fewer than 90 percent of students participated last school year will be required to submit plans to the State Department of Education by mid-February outlining how they plan to address the problem in the upcoming testing cycle.

The state will offer a conference in February to help districts improve participation.


High school students missing the exams were to blame for most of the shortfall. Of the 148 schools where too many students missed the statewide Smarter Balanced Assessment, nearly three-quarters were high schools. (Curious how many students skipped the test in your school? Click here to find out.)

Yes, you read the CT Mirror’s observation correctly;

The CT Mirror text reads; “Curious how many students skipped the test in your school? Click here to find out.”

Of course, any honest reporting of the situation would recognize that students didn’t “skip” the Common Core SBAC test.

Students did not participate in the Common Core SBAC test because their parents refused to allow them to participate in the inappropriate and damaging testing scheme.

There is a big difference between “skipping” and being opted out!

But perhaps even more telling is that the CT Mirror didn’t even bother to interview a Connecticut parent who opted their child out or discuss the issue with any of those who led Connecticut’s opt out movement.

Finally, rather than respecting parental rights, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education recommends that the solution to the whole situation is to give children a sticker.

As the CT Mirror goes on to explain, the Malloy/Wyman administration’s approach to increasing the student participation rate in the faulty Common Core SBAC testing program is not to fix the problems with the Common Core testing program or respect parental rights, but to give students a sticker for taking the destructive test.

The CT Mirror notes;

Wentzell said during a recent interview that she believes students should get some sort of sticker after they take their exam to highlight the importance of participation, just as citizens do on Election Day after they vote.

You can read CT Mirror full story at State sets penalties for schools with high exam ‘opt-out’ rates and related CT Mirror articles via the following links

Instead of writing their own story about the Malloy/Wyman approach to the SBAC testing opt-out issue, the Hartford Courant simply used the CT Mirror’s version of the story.  See:

Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich

As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s failure to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, his proposed state budget includes disastrous cuts to vital state services and programs while continuing the policy of coddling the rich and unfairly burdening the middle class. While Malloy’s state budget proposal includes tens of millions more for wasteful and destructive programs like the Common Core, the Common Core SBAC testing and charter schools, Malloy put forward a budget that reduces funding for education and cuts deeply into programs that directly benefit Connecticut’s children. According to CT Voices for Children, a Connecticut based research organization, more than half of Malloy’s budget cuts (54%) are aimed at Connecticut’s children.  Add in the cuts for those with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges and the other budget cuts aimed at the state’s other vulnerable citizens and the legislature is forced to deal with a budget that Malloy and his administration should be ashamed of. At the same time, Malloy’s plan demands that the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly continue to undermine the state’s middle class and the economic well-being of their own constituents in order to “protect” Connecticut’s wealthiest residents. The data highlighting Connecticut’s regressive tax system is clear, concise and extremely disturbing. After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay an average of 5.5 percent for their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5 percent for middle-class families and more than 11.0 percent for the state’s poor. Rather than a progressive tax system, or even a flat tax system, Connecticut has developed a state and local tax system that allows the rich to skate free, while leaving the burden of balancing state and local budgets onto those who make far less. Keith Phaneuf reported the situation accurately when he wrote in today’s CT Mirror,

“Just before the income tax’s enactment (1991), the state taxed capital gains at 7 percent, and dividends and major interest income at rates as high as 14 percent. Those rates went away when the income tax was enacted. Earnings from these sources instead were subject to the top income tax rate, which stood in 1991 at 4.5 percent. The top rate has risen just three times in the 24 years since then – to 5 percent in 2003, 6.5 percent in 2009 and 6.7 percent in 2011 – and still remains below the old capital gains and dividends rates.”

The harsh reality is that Connecticut’s state and local tax system is designed to punish middle and lower income families. But Democratic legislators could push back against Malloy’s unfair budget policies. Connecticut’s top “marginal income tax rate” is 6.7 percent, a rate that is much lower than that in New York (8.82%) or New Jersey (8.97%).  Increasing the marginal income tax rate on Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers (those making more than $1 million) to bring it in line with New York State would bring in over $400 million a year. Eliminating a number of the useless sales tax exemptions that lobbyists have pushed through for their clients would raise another $400 million a year and ending some of the corporate welfare (tax expenditures) that Malloy has been doling out would mean that Connecticut could have a balanced budget that doesn’t destroy vital state services. The solution to Connecticut’s budget crisis is actually not hard to identify, but it does require conviction and honesty on the part of Connecticut’s elected officials…and that apparently is exactly what they are lacking. The next six weeks will determine what side of the battle the members of the Connecticut General Assembly will take.  The choice is simple.  Continue to follow Governor Malloy’s disastrous policies or actually come down on the side of their constituents and make the rich pay their fair share.

CT Capitol Report Headline Reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

While some tend to fall back on the phrase, “I told you so” much too often, the truth is that rarely does one get a chance to point to someone else confirming an individual’s claim that that they really were right when others were wrong….

So with that as the backdrop and propelled by an opportunity to brag, tempered by an appropriate dose of humility, I am proud to report that ctcapitolreport, the state’s leading news aggregation website, is sporting a headline that reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

The reference is to my long-standing and on-going observation that in order to balance next year’s Connecticut state budget, provide sufficient revenue to fund critical services and begin to reduce the unfair tax burden on Connecticut’s middle class, Connecticut’s elected officials must find the courage to actually do what is necessary and that means appending Connecticut’s tax code to require that the state’s wealthy begin to pay their fair share of taxes.

Longer term Wait, What? readers will recall that this blog does cover issues other than the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Scheme.

In fact, another primary focus of this blog has traditionally been Connecticut’s irresponsible fiscal policies that have resulted in a truly regressive tax system in which the state’s lowest income families pay about 12 percent of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes and the wealthy, who have been coddled by both Democrats and Republicans, only pay about 5 to 6 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

While the inequities in Connecticut’s tax system have been growing for decades, the problem has become particularly severe as a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s unending fiscal gimmicks and his unprecedented dedication and addiction to irresponsible fiscal policies.

The article the website  is referring to is a news story posted early today by Connecticut’s premier budget reporter, Keith Phaneuf of the CTMirror.

Phaneuf has written another MUST READ story for those who want to understand Connecticut’s state budget and how Governor Dannel Malloy lied his way through the 2014 gubernatorial campaign by claiming there was no state deficit and that if he was re-elected we would eliminate the projected $1.4 billion projected deficit for next year without having to raise taxes or cut services.

Keith Phaneuf’s latest article is entitled “Tax hike ideas abound at the Capitol,” and can be found at:

The CT Mirror piece concludes with the following;

Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, who tried unsuccessfully to petition onto the 2014 gubernatorial ballot, predicted last summer that the big budget deficits projected for the next two fiscal years would eventually force a progressive income tax debate this spring.

“Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair in state income tax is the only responsible way to balance the state budget and begin to reduce the heavy and inappropriate burden on Connecticut’s middle-income taxpayers,” Pelto said last week. “Failure to require the rich to pay their fair share will mean unacceptable cuts in vital services and hurting the middle class and all working families by shifting even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers.

Or, in other words, “I told you so.”

Hey CT Mirror when did education fall off the list of “Pressing Issues”

Earlier this week the “independent” news organization known at CT Mirror posted the news, “Mirror announces ‘Policy Pairings Series’ — Four Issues, Four Breweries.”

The CT Mirror article explained,

Four Connecticut homegrown breweries will serve as the backdrops for discussion of pressing state issues as The Connecticut Mirror launches its first “Policy Pairings Series.” Two events are scheduled for April and two for May at locations across the state.

Tickets are available starting today at

All events will be moderated by Mirror staff and are scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. The dates, locations and topics are:

Thursday, April 23 – Shebeen Brewing, Wolcott (Taxes)
Tuesday, April 28 – Two Roads Brewing Company, Stratford (Road transportation)
Tuesday, May 12 – Thomas Hooker Brewing Company, Bloomfield (Business climate)
Tuesday, May 19 – Half Full Brewery, Stamford (Rail transportation)

The series is sponsored by the CT20x17 campaign, a non-partisan coalition of business, professional, and community organizations working together to strengthen Connecticut’s economy.

The CT Mirror noted that events are intended to be discussions “of the pressing state issues” and that the effort is the kickoff of the Connecticut Mirror’s new “Policy Pairings Series.”

Following the link provided by the CT Mirror – – one finds a page highlighting the fact that the events are sponsored by “CT20x17: Build A Brighter Economic Future for Everyone,” along with the disclaimer;

The Connecticut Mirror is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization. Even though donors and corporate sponsors may underwrite events, they play no role in determining the content or line of questioning.

Did the CT Mirror really just say that donors and corporate sponsors, “play no role in determining the content?”

According to its webpage, “CT20x17 is a coalition of residents, associations, and businesses all dedicated to achieving the benefits for everyone of making Connecticut a top 20 state for economic competitiveness by 2017.”

The organization adds,  “Organizations from around the state have thrown their support behind the CT20x17 campaign and its framework of commonsense policies.”

CT20x17 adds that these organizations, “recognize that despite making progress in developing a talented future workforce, reducing energy costs, and cutting government red tape, our economic recovery has not kept pace with the national and regional economies. It is critical that we break that pattern and unlock the state’s enormous potential.”

Hooray for unlocking the State’s enormous potential!

And so the group is sponsoring a series of sessions about unlocking the “State’s enormous potential.”

But the independent CT Mirror could find no place in a discussion about unlocking Connecticut’s enormous potential to discuss the vital issues surrounding primary, secondary and higher education in Connecticut or about Connecticut sad record of inadequate funding for the one thing that would actually unlock the state’s enormous potential?

Hey CT Mirror, what gives?

It turns out that CT20X17 – The group dedicating to “unlocking the state’s enormous potential” – doesn’t even have an educator or public education proponent on its Steering Committee.  In fact, the committee is exclusively made up of Connecticut’s corporate elite or their representatives.

The CT20x17 Steering Committee includes;

  • John DiCarlo, Public Policy and Economic Development Manager, Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Ethier, CEO, Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Connecticut, Inc.
  • Oz Griebel, President & CEO, MetroHartford Alliance
  • Jennifer Jackson, President & CEO, Connecticut Hospital Association
  • Cliff Leach, Vice President, Government Affairs, The Hartford
  • John O’Toole, Board of Directors, Connecticut Economic Development Association
  • Tim Perra, Director, Global Communications, Stanley Black & Decker
  • Kim Sirois Pita, Kim Pita Peaces
  • Jeff Pugliese, Vice President, Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce
  • Bill Purcell, President, The Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Tony Rescigno, President,Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce
  • JoAnn Ryan, President & CEO, Northwest Connecticut’s Chamber of Commerce
  • Paul Timpanelli, President & CEO, Bridgeport Regional Business Council

So here comes a corporate sponsored series of forums on Connecticut’s pressing issues and yet no discussion of education…

And adding insult to injury, the CT Mirror informs readers that its kick-off session, sponsored by CT20X17, will focus on the “THE FUTURE OF CONNECTICUT’S TAX POLICY,” yet there isn’t even a panelist at the tax forum who will argue that Connecticut actually needs a fair, progressive tax structure in order to provide the range of services and programs that will address all of the challenges facing Connecticut.

Instead, the panelists who are participating in the forum, while undoubtedly experts and well meaning, are either part of the existing dysfunctional and regressive tax system that haunts Connecticut or are dedicated to the corporate sponsored rhetoric of lower taxes, especially for the wealthy and elite within the business community.

According to the CT Mirror’s promotional materials, the discussion on the The Future of Connecticut’s Tax Policy will be led exclusively by;

Sen. Scott Frantz (R-36th District) – Ranking Member, Finance, Revenue & Bonding
William Dyson (D) – Co-Chair, State and Local Tax Structure Review Panel
Stephen LaRosa – Senior Director, State & Local Tax, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Let’s be clear.

We all recognize that the newspaper industry is virtually extinct and the new world of cyber-based media outlets means that entities like the CTMirror must find significant sources of revenue, other than from advertising dollars, but it is extremely disturbing to think that the CT Mirror would claim corporate sponsors have no role in determining content when the evidence is exactly the opposite.

Just this past week the CT Mirror bragged about a major corporate sponsorship that will allow them to host a discussion about the “pressing issues” of our time…

But then we learn that education is not deemed a pressing issue and even the discussion of taxation is limited in scope to ensure there is no meaningful opportunity to discuss the reality that we need to require the wealthy to start paying their fair share and that we must dramatically alter our present tax code so that we can change Connecticut’s unfair and regressive tax structure into one that is fairer, more progressive, provides the resources necessary to fund government functions, including education, and promotes rather than destroys the middle class.

Rather than misleading readers by claiming  that, “Even though donors and corporate sponsors may underwrite events, they play no role in determining the content…,” perhaps the CT Mirror should be more transparent by simply appending the following to their site….

“Paid for and authorized by our corporate sponsors.”

In that way, at least Connecticut citizens would have a fighting chance to know that this “platform of independence” is compromised by the need for operating funds.

Breaking News – Watch for Malloy to announce cuts to vital services by end of day!

[Putting aside myself-imposed break from blogging for a moment]….

The primary refrain from Governor Malloy and his political campaign was that there was no state deficit this year nor would there be one next year or the year after.

Malloy stuck to this false claim despite the fact that the Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis, the State of Connecticut’s independent fiscal operation had identified areas where the Malloy administration intentionally underestimated this year’s budget in order to make it appear balanced and went on to project that the state of Connecticut would be facing a $1.4 billion projected budget deficit next year and a budget deficit in the range of $5 million over the next three years.

Throughout the campaign, Malloy and his team mocked the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ projections.

Even in the last gubernatorial candidate debate, forty-eight hours before the polls opened, Malloy continued to claim that there was no deficit, there would be no deficit and that, if re-elected, he promised that he would not cut state services, raise taxes or need to engage in talks with the state employee unions about concessions.

To bolster Malloy’s false claims about the state budget, on October 20th, just days before Election Day, Malloy’s budget director even wrote,

“Revenue and expenditure trends remain consistent with the budget plan, and we continue to project a $0.3 million balance from operations.  [Translated to English that mean that the Malloy administration reported that the state was on track to have a $300,000 surplus for this fiscal year]

Considering that Malloy’s budget director knew his statement was a lie, if Connecticut was a corporation with stocks, the Securities and Exchange Commissioner (SEC) would have had the right to take action against the state for intentionally and fraudulently lying to stockholders.

But the harsh legacy of Malloy’s 2014 campaign is that the governor and his political operatives managed to make it through the campaign without having to tell Connecticut’s voters the truth about the state’s fiscal situation.

The truth then – and now – is that lower than expected revenues and additional spending due to Malloy’s decision to intentionally underfund certain programs meant this year’s Connecticut state budget contained a $100 million deficit.

Sadly, the truth was available to voters but in the blur of the final weeks of the campaign, few voters were aware of Malloy’s underhanded tactic to mislead the electorate about the growing budget deficit.

Now, ten days after the campaign is over, the Malloy administration is scrambling to put together a series of budget cuts.

Since these cuts will fly in the face of Malloy’s campaign statements watch for Malloy’s people to announce the cuts late today.

Traditionally politicians like to announce bad news late on Friday afternoons believing that most reporters have closed up their computers for the week, and that even more importantly, the public won’t be paying attention to state news on the weekend.

The true irony is that Malloy’s cuts are likely to disproportionately hit Connecticut’s state employees and programs that Malloy promised to protect.

During his first term in office, Dan Malloy made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut public colleges and universities.  In an attempt to win back the support of college students and their parents, along with faculty and staff at Connecticut’s colleges, Malloy repeated promised to make higher education a top priority.

But Connecticut’s college students will likely be among those who are most hurt by Malloy’s impending budget cuts, as will other state and unionized employees.

This after the union leaders spent millions urging their members to support Malloy’s re-election bid.

Those interested in knowing the truth about Connecticut’s budget situation should take the time to read the news articles written by CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf.

Nonpartisan analysts tracking $84M in potential cost overruns in state budget (Oct 31)

CT budget again faces red ink as federal grants, gaming revenues shrink (Nov 10)

Malloy to order emergency cuts, restrict hires to counter impending deficit (Nov 13)

Then watch for coverage tonight and over the weekend about Malloy’s budget plan.

“Corporate tables available” — a sign of the times

Today’s features an article entitled, “Corporate tables available for “Small State, Big Debate.”

As CT Mirror advertises its upcoming conference – “Small State, Big Debate:  Inequality” – the headline isn’t “Tables available” or “Packages available” but “Corporate” tables are available.

According to the story,

Corporate tables are available for The Connecticut Mirror’s first signature event, “Small State, Big Debate: Inequality” on Tuesday, April 29, at the University of Hartford. You can find registration, speakers and the day’s schedule at the event’s website here.

And the CT Mirror article concludes with the statement,

In 2014, inequality is a defining presence in Connecticut and throughout this country. Equity issues persist with topics such as health, income, education and housing. We have put together a program that will bring the conversation to another level and hope you will be a part of it at the University of Hartford on April 29.

CT Mirror is one of Connecticut’s finest media outlets.  They probably don’t mean to be telegraphing the core underlying issue with inequality in Connecticut and the United States.

Or maybe they are.

Or maybe it is a Freudian slip.

Or more likely it is an interesting reflection of the systemic acceptance in our “advanced capitalistic system” that corporations are people and that corporations must have a seat at the policy table — not to mention an opportunity to pay for the entire policy discussion.