ALERT – Lobbyists for the “Education Reformers” spend $1.9 million more in Connecticut.

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While 2015 was a bad year for many Connecticut taxpayers and for those that rely on vital state services, it was a very, very good year for Connecticut’s charter school industry.

Making deep and significant cuts to a broad range of critical services, including funding for public education, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly actually handed even more public money over to the privately owned, but publicly funded charter schools.

While leaving Connecticut’s real public schools without sufficient funds, Malloy and Democratic legislators approved a deal to divert more than $100 million dollars this year to the companies that operate Connecticut’s charter schools.

Why would Malloy and Connecticut’s elected officials turn their backs on their own students, parents, teachers and public schools?

Maybe it had something to do with the record breaking amount of money that the “education reformers” and the charter school industry spent lobbying the Governor and the legislature.

Connecticut’s Democratic legislative leaders initially said they would not agree to giving Connecticut’s charter schools even more money, Malloy demanded that it was, “his way or else.” Rather than doing the right thing and standing their ground against the bully, Democratic legislators even gave Malloy the additional money he wanted to open two new charters schools – one in Bridgeport and one in Stamford. Both local boards of education in Bridgeport and Stamford had overwhelmingly opposed the proposed charter schools, explaining that they did not need or want additional charter schools in their district.

Ignoring Connecticut’s collapsing fiscal situation, the Governor and legislature actually handed the charter schools even more scarce public funds, even though those schools discriminate against Connecticut children by refusing to accept and educate their fair share of students who require special education services and those who aren’t proficient in the English language and therefore need additional English language services.

According to the latest lobbying reports filed by the various corporate education reform lobbying groups with the Office of State Ethics, the corporate-funded advocacy organizations that support charter schools, the Common Core and the absurd Common Core testing scheme spent more than $1.9 million lobbying Malloy and the legislature in 2015.

Leading the spending spree was the New York-based entity that calls itself, “Families for Excellent Schools, Inc.”  This is the group that bussed in parents and students from as far away as New York City and Boston to hold a rally at the Connecticut State Capitol demanding more money for the privately owned charter schools.

The additional $1.9 million in lobbying expenditures brings the total amount these groups have spent in support of Governor Malloy’s pro-charter school, pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher initiatives to more than $9 million, making it the most expensive lobbying campaign in Connecticut history.

The list of corporate-funded education reform entities that reported lobbying Malloy and the legislature in 2015 included Achievement First, Inc., the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now Inc.  (ConnCAN); Families for Excellent Schools Inc.; the Connecticut Council for Education Reform Inc. (CCER); the North East Charter Schools Network and the Bronx Charter School of Excellence.  A number of other charter school and education reform front groups, including Educators 4 Excellence, Excel Bridgeport and Achieve Hartford were active around the state but claim that they did not communicate with the governor or legislators and therefore do not need to reveal how they spent their money.

Connecticut has become a case study in how “big money” is changing how education policy and politics is conducted.

Malloy and Dems take giant step backwards as World Leaders negotiate effort to save the Earth from Climate Change (updated)

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NOTE:  Updated with responses from Malloy administration agencies

Heralded as groundbreaking legislation designed to promote energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gasses, in 2007, Republican Governor Jodi Rell signed legislation that “permanently” exempted weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the Connecticut State Sales Tax.

The legislation, which was overwhelmingly adopted by the Democratic-controlled Connecticut General Assembly, was cited as one of the state’s major accomplishments.

Gina McCarthy, then Connecticut’s Commissioner of Environmental Protection and now the head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, highlighted the “landmark” legislation in her 2007 Annual State Report entitled Protecting and Restoring our Environment.

In a 2014 national EPA report on “Existing State Policies and Programs that Reduce Power Sector CO2 Emissions,” McCarthy’s agency explained the importance of “State tax incentives for energy efficiency,” writing

“…sales tax exemptions…spur private sector innovation to develop more energy efficient technologies and practices and increase consumer choice of energy-efficient products.

To this day, the federal government promotes Connecticut’s sales tax exemption law on its Department of Energy website

However, just two weeks ago as world leaders, including Gina McCarthy, worked around the clock to develop the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Governor Malloy and Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly repealed Connecticut’s important sales tax exemption on weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs as part of their “Democratic Budget Deal.”

Why?

The reason remains a mystery, but faced with a growing state budget deficit the Democrats’ “budget mitigation bill” included a variety of budget gimmicks, significant cuts to important human services and education programs, a major tax break for General Electric (and a handful of other large companies) and a sentence repealing Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 12-412k. [The state statue that exempts residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs from the state sales tax]

Section 12-412k. (a) For purposes of this section, “residential weatherization products” means programmable thermostats, window film, caulking, window and door weather strips, insulation, water heater blankets, water heaters, natural gas and propane furnaces and boilers that meet the federal Energy Star standard, windows and doors that meet the federal Energy Star standard, oil furnaces and boilers that are not less than eighty-four per cent efficient and ground-source heat pumps that meet the minimum federal energy efficiency rating.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of the general statutes, the provisions of this chapter shall not apply to sales of any residential weatherization products or compact fluorescent light bulbs.

With no public notice, hearing or debate, Malloy and the legislature simply voted to eliminate the sales tax exemption on residential weatherization products and energy-efficient light bulbs as of January 1, 2016.

The move will mean that Connecticut residents trying to weatherize their homes or buy energy-efficient light bulbs will pay an additional $3.6 million in sales tax to the State of Connecticut in FY 2016 and $7.5 million in FY 2017.

But, of course, perception is always more important than reality;

The recent move to reduce Connecticut’s commitment to energy efficiency and slow climate change didn’t stop Governor Malloy from making sure he was part of the news story and photo opportunity when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to Connecticut last week to talk about the Paris Agreement.

As CT Newsjunkie reported with, “EPA Chief Returns to Hartford, Touts Paris Agreement On Climate Change,”

It was a homecoming of sorts for Gina McCarthy, the current administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency who served as the head of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection from 2004 through 2009.

Flanked by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and members of the Connecticut Auto Retailers Association, McCarthy returned to … to talk about the Paris agreement, under which 195 countries have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

She said climate change is one of the biggest “economic and national security challenges of our time,” and because of the leadership of President Barack Obama, “we were able to get an agreement in Paris that everyone should be proud of.”

[…]

McCarthy said the only reason they were able to push forward with a plan to reduce emissions here in the United States and a plan to lower the temperature of the climate globally is because states like Connecticut are paving the way.

[…]

The governor said Connecticut is doing its part to address the impact of global warming.

Several years ago the state passed legislation to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and it became the first “range confident” state for electric vehicles in the nation.

“Climate change is happening. Make no mistake about that,” Malloy said. “And it’s time to take action to address the challenge in a responsible and thoughtful way.”

It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon, Malloy added.

Yup, Governor Dannel Malloy, who now serves as the head of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and therefore the spokesman for the country’s Democratic Governors actually spoke up about Climate Change saying, “It’s a problem we can’t fail to act upon.”

The only problem is that Malloy failed to tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the media or the public that he had, in fact, acted…

But alas, it was in exactly the wrong direction.

Footnote:

The 2007 legislation exempting weatherization and energy-efficient light bulbs passed the Connecticut House of Representatives on June 1, 2007 by a vote of 128 -19, with both present Speaker of the House Sharkey and Majority Leader Aresimowicz voted in favor of the bill. The next day the bill passed the Connecticut State Senate by a vote of 32-3 with now President Pro-Tempore Looney and Majority Leader Duff voting “Yes.”

The advocacy group, Energy Northeast, wrote about the original sales tax exemption stating;

Illustrating the bi-partisan and diverse stakeholder appeal of legislation requiring [greater energy efficiency] is Rhode Island’s 2006 efficiency procurement law [which] passed a Democratic-majority state Senate and House unanimously and was signed at a joint press event with the sitting Republican Governor a few days later. Similarly, Connecticut’s 2007 Efficiency Procurement legislation was passed overwhelming by a Democratic-majority state legislature and signed by a Republican Governor.”

But that was then and this is now…

Eight years after the bi-partisan commitment to promoting energy efficiency and with the issue more important than ever, Connecticut’s Democratic Governor and Democratic General Assembly decided that a few million dollars in additional state revenue was more important than continuing to help Connecticut residents weatherize their homes and buy energy-efficient light bulbs.

Requests for comment were made to Governor Malloy’s Office, the Office of Policy and Management and various agencies in the Malloy administration.

The Department of Revenue Services responded by email saying  they would have no comment.

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s Communication Director responded as follows:

In these difficult financial times for our state, we recognize that tough decisions have to be made.  In order to balance the state’s budget, the General Assembly has had to look at eliminating sales tax exemptions on many products and services.

While the sales tax exemption that covered many products used for weatherizing homes was certainly an added incentive for people to take action, we believe its elimination will not have a significant impact on the public’s appetite for energy efficiency projects.

Homeowners and businesses understand the importance of weatherization and energy efficiency – and the kinds of saving that can be achieved.  This concept has become deeply embedded in people’s minds and even without an sales tax exemption there will continue to be a strong focus on saving energy.

 

 

You can read more about McCarthy’s visit to Connecticut last week via the CT Mirror’s EPA’s Gina McCarthy stops by with a Paris postcard

 

Denying reality, Malloy blames legislature for cuts to Tourism and Arts in recent “Democratic budget bill”

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In a stunning attempt at revisionist history, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to WNPR radio to blame the Connecticut General Assembly for the recent cuts to the state’s tourism and arts programs when, in fact, it was the legislature that had reduced – by a significant amount – the cuts that Malloy has repeatedly has wanted to those programs.

However, the truth didn’t stop the Democratic Governor from throwing the legislature, and especially his Democratic colleagues, under the bus.

Here are the facts:

At the beginning of this year, Governor Dannel Malloy proposed a state budget that reduced Connecticut’s “Still Revolutionary” Tourism Marketing Program from $12 million to $10 million dollars.

At the same time, Malloy proposed about $5.9 million in cuts to Connecticut’s various museums, cultural and arts programs.

During the budget process, the Connecticut legislature rejected the vast majority of cuts to the cultural and arts programs but did reduce funding for the State Tourism Marketing Program by an additional $500,000, bringing this year’s State Tourism Marketing Program to a total of $9.5 million.

This fall, faced with a growing state budget deficit, despite having claimed he had signed a balanced budget 90 days earlier, Governor Malloy called for bi-partisan budget negotiations to develop a new budget deficit mitigation plan to balance the budget.

As part of that process, on November 10, 2015, Malloy issued a proposed list of budget cuts that included an additional $1 million cut to the State’s Tourism Programs ($500,000 for the State Tourism Marketing Campaign and $500,000 to the State Tourism Districts.)  Malloy also proposed an additional $4.5 million in cuts to the state’s museums, cultural and arts programs.

When the Democrats in the General Assembly passed the “Democratic Budget Deal” last week, it included a $1 million reduction to the State Tourism Marketing Program, but again rejected Malloy’s attack on Connecticut’s culture and art programs.

But rather than tell WNPR Connecticut Public Radio’s Ray Hardman the truth during a recent news segment about the budget cuts to the State’s tourism and arts programs, Malloy straight out lied about his role in the entire process.

First, in a politically blatant maneuver to mislead the public, Malloy tried to suggest that the decision to reduce state funding for tourism and arts was the result of a bi-partisan agreement, which of course, is completely false.   While the budget negotiations began with the Republican legislative leaders at the table, no bi-partisan agreement could be reached and the package was eventually passed with only Democrats voting in favor of the bill.

Second, in an even more politically embarrassing move – considering Malloy isn’t up for re-election in 2016, but Democratic legislators will be facing voters next November –  Malloy decided to throw his fellow Democrats under the bus for suggesting that it was the legislators who were the ones focused on cutting tourism and the arts.

As WNPR’s story explained;

Tourism and the arts took a hit in the budget adjustment agreed on by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature in special session earlier this week. The adjustment was needed to fill a $350 million hole in the state budget.

The biggest hit to culture and tourism was a $1 million cut to the state’s “Still Revolutionary” tourism marketing campaign. That’s despite strong tourism numbers this summer, showing increases in both hotel occupancy and out of state visitors. Regional tourism offices were also affected.

“It’s not something I advocated for,” said Malloy of the cuts in an editorial meeting with WNPR. “But in a bipartisan process, you have to make compromises. Members of the legislature are not as supportive as I am, and this is an ongoing and fairly constant battle.”

That Malloy would duck his role in cutting state funding for tourism and arts programs by suggesting that the Republicans supported his budget proposal is bad enough, but considering that as a Democrat, Malloy is supposed to be supporting his fellow Democratic elected officials, it is particularly troubling that the Governor would twist the truth in an effort to blame Democratic legislators when they were the ones who were actually working to reduce the damaging cuts that Malloy was trying to push through.

Of course, more cuts to tourism and the arts are coming since the Democrats in the General Assembly did give Malloy the authority to cut an additional $93 million from this year’s state budget, cuts that he will make without the legislators review or approval.

When WNPR asked about that next round of cuts, Malloy said that culture, arts and tourism would be far down on his list of possible new cuts…

Yeah and I have a nice bridge for sale….

The Decline of the Great American Middle Class

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Whether driven by benign-neglect or outright disdain, the “advanced capitalist system,” along with the nation’s two-party, “incumbency” form of government continues to undermine the country’s Middle Class and hold down those without the resources to live full and fulfilling lives.

As Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a professor of Economics at Columbia, recently noted,

“The world’s quintessential middle class society is on the way to becoming its first former middle class society.”

According to a new Pew Research Center report,

“In early 2015, 120.8 million adults were in middle-income households, compared with 121.3 million in lower- and upper-income households combined…marking the first time in the center’s four decades of tracking this data that the size of the latter groups has transcended that of the first.

[…]

Fully 49% of U.S. aggregate income went to upper-income households in 2014, up from 29% in 1970. The share accruing to middle-income households was 43% in 2014, down substantially from 62% in 1970.

[…]

And middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.

[…]

Meanwhile, the far edges of the income spectrum have shown the most growth. In 2015, 20% of American adults were in the lowest-income tier, up from 16% in 1971. On the opposite side, 9% are in the highest-income tier, more than double the 4% share in 1971.

[…]

The hollowing of the American middle class has proceeded steadily for more than four decades. Since 1971, each decade has ended with a smaller share of adults living in middle-income households than at the beginning of the decade.

Previous observations about the decline of the middle class and growing chasm between the super wealthy and everyone else, on this blog and elsewhere, has generated complaints about the inappropriateness of discussing what they claim to be a call for “class warfare.”

But it is long past time for the nation to drop that defense and for our elected officials to recognize that if we continue to refuse to discuss inequality, equity and fairness, we most certainly will be talking about class warfare, but we will be talking about it in the context of the very real frustration, anger and violence that will continue to grow and spill into the streets of the cities and towns across the United States.

Call it class warfare or use some other euphemism, but talk about it we must.

And that discussion needs to begin with the prompt adoption of a tax system that is fairer and more just, in which the wealthy are required to pay their fair share.

As Wait, What? readers know, in Connecticut the wealthiest pay about 5-6% of their income in state and local taxes, the middle class about 10-11% and the poor in excess of 12%.

Connecticut’s legislators could make a profound impact by ending the budget games and empty political rhetoric and actually changing the tax structure to reduce the burden on the Middle Class and all of those who are striving to make ends meet.

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce

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The Connecticut General Assembly will return to the state capital today to vote on a “Democratic Budget Deal” that they claim will eliminate this year’s budget deficit by authorizing Governor Dannel Malloy to cut an additional $93 million in unspecified programs and raiding money from a variety of dedicated special funds.

A CT Mirror article written by Keith Phaneuf and entitled, CT deficit plan taps many special funds and one-time sources, pretty much sums of the Democrat’s budget balancing strategy.

One of the most disturbing provisions of the new “Democratic Budget Deal” is that for the third time in three years the Democrats are going to steal the money that has been set-aside to install seatbelts in school buses and use the funds to help balance the state budget.

On December 20, 2012, the Wait, What? headline read; Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority?

Following the tragic school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford in January 2010, a crash that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools, the legislature kicked into action.

On May 1st of that year the General Assembly passed what was to become Public Act 10-83.

The law created the Connecticut School Bus Seat Belt account, “a separate non-lapsing account in the General Fund” and required the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to administer a program to use the funds in the account to help school districts pay for the cost of equipping school buses with lap/shoulder (3-point) seat belts.

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $175.

[On 12/19/2012] the Legislature’s deficit mitigation bill included language overriding the previous law and transferring the $4,700,000 from the School Bus Seat Belt account into the General Fund to help eliminate this year’s $415 million deficit.

Gone is the money for school seat belts.

That tragedy was yesterday’s news.

And besides, who would remember that the account in question grew out of the concern elected officials had for the safety of our children.

Then on June 3, 2015 came, The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget

[Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!]

After working through the night, the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State House of Representatives and the Connecticut State Senate finally twisted enough arms to take up the state budget plan that they negotiated with Governor Dannel Malloy.

After hours of debate, the House passed the $40.3 billion, two-year budget plan by a vote of 73 to 70 with eleven Democrats voting against their party’s leadership.

[…]

Section 55(d) of the budget requires that,

“On or before June 30, 2015, the sum of $ 3,000,000 shall be transferred from the school bus seat belt account, established in section 14-50b of the general statutes, and credited to the resources of the General Fund for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015.

Wait, What?

These people would actually steal the money that is dedicated install seat belts into school buses and dump it into this year’s General Fund to make the state deficit look smaller?

Who on earth would do such a terrible thing?

On wait, I remember?

And so will long time Wait, What? readers.

Now, as Keith Phaneuf reports,

Other fund diversions used to supplement the new deficit-mitigation plan include:

  • $22.1 million from reserve accounts from public colleges and universities.

  • $2 million from a biomedical research fund.

  • $2 million from a program to fit school buses with seat belts.

  • And nearly $3.7 million from four miscellaneous accounts.

This additional raid of the School Bus Seatbelt Fund means that over the course of three years, the Democrats have diverted nearly $10 million in funds meant to retrofit school busses with seatbelts and used that money to fill holes in the state budget.

And if that bait and switch maneuver isn’t disturbing enough, imagine if you were a parent of a student attending one of Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.  You’ve paid thousands and thousands of dollars, potentially tens of thousands of dollars, in tuition and fees and now you learn that Connecticut’s elected officials are reaching into the university and college’s “reserve accounts” (funded by tuition) and grabbing $22.1 million to balance the state budget.

The CT Mirror article goes on to explain;

While the General Assembly is expected to adopt a plan in special session Tuesday to close most or all of this fiscal year’s budget deficit, restore some funds for hospitals and finance modest business tax breaks, almost 40 percent of the plan diverts resources from specialized funds and various one-time sources.

[…]

Besides mitigating or eliminating that shortfall, the savings also will be used, Democratic legislative leaders said, to restore some earlier cuts to hospitals and social service programs, as well as to finance modest corporation tax cuts.

The Democratic plan, which Republican minorities in the House and Senate are expected to vote against, also would produce $212 million in savings in the 2016-17 fiscal year, Looney added. According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, next fiscal year already faces a built-in hole of $552 million.

But according to a summary of the plan obtained by The Mirror, just over $135 million in general fund savings this fiscal year would come by diverting or raiding other programs, including two of the biggest initiatives Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Democratic legislators built into the current budget.

Just over $35 million in revenues owed to the Special Transportation Fund would be diverted, which probably would force officials to draw down the fund’s reserve. Nonpartisan analysts already have warned that the transportation fund — despite being targeted in June to receive an annual share of general fund sales tax receipts — is on pace to fall into deficit by the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Democrats also would defer a $70.4 million deposit owed to a special new revenue-sharing program designed to help cities and towns control property tax hikes.

Finally, perhaps the most telling point of all is that despite the fact that legislators will be voting today on this “package,” the CT Mirror noted that,

“Though full details of the deficit-mitigation bill weren’t available late Monday, the plan also hinges heavily on the administration’s finding $93 million in undefined savings.”

Rather then fulfill their legal and moral obligation to set Connecticut’s State Budget, Democratic legislators will simply hand that task over to Governor Malloy.

Connecticut Public Financing Program “Safe”, For Now … But…

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As CT Newsjunkie reported late yesterday,

“By the end of the day Thursday, both House and Senate Democrats who proposed suspending Connecticut’s landmark public financing system in 2016, had withdrawn their proposals.

Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, made the announcement early Thursday afternoon and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz agreed to find the money elsewhere later Thursday afternoon. The news of the reversal came part way through a press conference held by ConnPIRG, Common Cause, lawmakers and other defenders of the clean election system.”

As reported in yesterday’s Wait, What? post entitled, Connecticut’s Democratic Legislative Leaders call for suspending elections to save money…,

The Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly proposed suspending Connecticut’s public financing system, thereby allowing legislators to transfer about $11 million toward the $254 million budget deficit in this year’s state budget.

Their plan would roll back the campaign finance system that Connecticut adopted after former Governor John Rowland resigned in disgrace and was sent to prison.

Instead of keeping Connecticut’s Clean Election Program in place, Democratic leaders would return the state to the “Wild West” campaign fundraising system that favored incumbents and ensured that campaigns for the legislature were primarily financed by political action committees, lobbyists and those who benefit financially from state contracts.”

Former Governor Jodi Rell joined in condemning the Democratic leader’s move to end the Clean Elections Program but correctly noted that Governor Malloy and the General Assembly had already undermined some of the most important aspects of the historic effort to keep dirty money out of Connecticut politics.

In a statement Rell observed,

“The Democrats have effectively eviscerated the spirit of the law since 2011 and now they are looking to overturn the actual letter of the law altogether.”

Meanwhile, faced with a state budget deficit in excess of $254 million, the Senate Democrats issued their own proposal yesterday. (See CT Newsjunkie’s The Democratic Divide and CT Mirror’s Senate Dems break with House, go own way on deficit.)

As the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains,

Senate Democrats issued their own deficit-mitigation plan Thursday, pressing for a retirement incentive plan opposed by House Democrats and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as damaging to the state’s overburdened pension system.

The retirement incentives were offered in place of suspending the state’s public financing of campaigns, a measure included in a list of spending cuts they jointly proposed Monday with House Democrats.

[…]

An estimated $163 million would be saved over this fiscal year and next, Senate Democrats say, by paying incentives to encourage senior state employees to retire.

Of course Connecticut has learned the hard way that while retirement incentives “reduce” the state payroll by persuading state employees to retire early, it does that by moving employees from the state payroll over to the pension fund, which is already extraordinarily underfunded.

In addition, since some state employee positions must be refilled in order to maintain some of the most critical state services, early retirement programs never save as much money as initially proposed.

For Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, early retirement incentive programs disrupt the level and quality of vital services they receive.

In addition, while the budget cutting plans issued by Governor Malloy, the House Democrats, the Senate Democrats and legislative Republicans differ in various ways, all target the University of Connecticut, Connecticut’s State Universities and the state’s Community Colleges for even more devastating cuts ranging in size from a low of $12 million to Governor Malloy’s high of $28 million.

Malloy has already dealt Connecticut’s public colleges and universities with the biggest budget cuts in Connecticut history, which in turn have led to massive tuition increases and reduced educational opportunities and programs.

Governor Malloy – A politician who simply cannot tell the truth

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Monday, October 18, 2015,

Standing outside his state Capitol office Monday, Malloy said there’s been a significant downturn on Wall Street, and personal income is not rising as fast as expected. That’s why his budget office was expected to report that even after $103 million in emergency budget cuts last month, the state is running a $118.4 million deficit, only four months into the new fiscal year. A majority of the deficit is attributed to the $109 million drop in personal income taxes. –  CT Newsjunkie

NOTE:  The $118.4 million deficit COMES AFTER the destructive and callous $103 million in cuts that Malloy announced a month ago – cuts that will reduce a variety of vital services including to those for people with developmental disabilities and mental health problems, as well as, reductions that will domino into almost $190 million in cuts in state and federal funds to Connecticut’s hospitals.

  • When Governor Malloy signed the new state budget into law in June, the Malloy administration claimed the state budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • In July, at the start of the fiscal year, the Malloy administration claimed the Connecticut State Budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • In August the Malloy administration claimed the Connecticut State Budget was balanced with no deficit in sight.
  • Even as late as the first week of September, the Malloy administration said the State of Connecticut had a small surplus.

And then on September 18th,

“Responding to a weak stock market, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy ordered $103 million in emergency cuts Friday…

[…]

Benjamin Barnes, the governor’s budget chief, said lower-than-expected income tax receipts and the drop in the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index for the first nine months of 2015 prompted the reductions just three months into the state’s fiscal year. – CT Mirror

And now, a month later Malloy holds another press conference to announce the hole in the budget has grown by another $118 million and this time he is open to “talks” with the legislature, including the Republicans.

Less than sixty days ago, the State of Connecticut had a surplus, now the situation has suddenly changed, the budget problem is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars ($221 million) and growing.

And the political spin for this development?

Malloy and his team explain that the problem is the stock market.

But as the CT Mirror’s has Keith Phaneuf has noted for months and re-explains in his latest CT Mirror story entitled Questions about the last recession complicate CT’s budget woes, the problem facing Connecticut is not simply a “drop in the stock market” but a much more serious problem with the economy.

Although a portion of the jobs lost during the Great Recession have returned, many of those jobs are lower paying and salaries out here in the real world are not growing.

Yet despite that reality, Governor Malloy, with the full support of the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly, pushed through a budget that was based on rosy and overly optimist projections that the economy was so strong that Connecticut would “grow” its way out of the budget problems.

Nothing could have been further from the truth then and their irresponsible maneuver means the “chickens are coming home to roost” now.

And make no mistake, none of this was a secret.

The Wait, What? post on June 3, 2015 – The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget and the Wait, What? post on June 29, 2015 – CT’s Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse and

While people across the political spectrum can debate over how best to deal with the growing budget crisis, no real solution will be adopted until Governor Malloy stops lying to Connecticut residents and promotes a discussion based on the truth.

Of course, that appears to be something he is simply incapable of doing.

A reader asks their Legislator – Why did you bail on Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers?

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Bill Morrison is an outstanding educator and education advocate.

A regular reader and participant on the Wait, What? blog, Bill recently followed up on the post Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam, to ask his state legislator why they simply turned their back on their constituents when Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed a bill that would have required Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate education experience.

If everyone would take such action, legislators across the state would understand that their subservient behavior to Malloy’s whims was unacceptable.

What follows is Bill’s correspondence with his legislator followed by a breakdown of how legislators voted on the veto override effort.

From Bill Morrison:

I wrote the following letter to my Representative. He was one who failed to even show up.

Dear Representative Ryan,

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a registered Democrat, a constituent, and I voted for you. I am also retired Navy, and I am a public high school history and social studies teacher.

That said, I am extremely disappointed that my state legislature allowed itself to be bullied into not overriding Malloy’s veto of the Bill setting minimum professional standards for State Commissioners of Education. As a professional educator, I am heartily sick and tired of Malloy’s targeting us for persecution, demonization, and vilification. I am sick of him undermining our strong efforts, especially in urban schools. And, I am disillusioned that a Democrat governor could so obviously pander to corrupt corporate interests through his immense support of charter schools and high-stakes standardized testing. In short, I am very disgusted by my own Party because of its sycophancy towards Malloy and corporate interests.

Yesterday, the legislature voted not to override Malloy’s veto, with many Democrats not even showing up for the vote. As you are aware, Malloy’s previous Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, was extremely unqualified for the position, and he wreaked havoc in Connecticut’s public schools. His appointment was on obvious conflict of interest because of his affiliation with Achievement First Charter Schools (a corporation that gained financially because of Malloy’s and Pryor’s influence), and he was manifestly not qualified for the position because of his not having any background in education. I had hoped that the legislature would stand up for the Connecticut’s citizens instead of slavishly pandering to Malloy. Instead of doing the right thing for Connecticut’s children, families, and schools, Democrats would not even stand up for a Bill that they had drafted in the first place, a Bill that passed the Senate unanimously with all but five dissenters in the Legislature.

I feel nothing but shame for my Party, and I sincerely hope that Democrats learn from this that they need to return to their roots and support their true constituents not big money.

Bill Morrison

While nearly every Republican legislator voted in favor of students, parents and teachers, the vast majority of Democratic legislators reversed their support or simply failed to show up when the vote to override Malloy’s veto was taken.

Here is more information about how legislators voted;

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included; 

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/

And scroll down for form to use to identify your elected officials

Democrat controlled legislature’s action on Malloy’s education veto nothing but a scam.

8 Comments

A lesson on power politics and how many legislators will jettison their constituents in order to hang with the power elite.

Where did your elected representative stand on the veto issue?

A handful of Democrats and a bunch  of Republicans proved that they are willing and able to stand up for the students, parents, teachers and public schools in their district.  The others… nope!

At yesterday’s constitutionally mandated 2015 veto session of the Connecticut General Assembly, 50 of the 87 Democratic members of the Connecticut House of Representatives (57 percent) didn’t even bother to show up show up and vote.

With only 37 of the 87 Democrats in the chamber, the Democratic leaders were able to ensure that there were not enough votes to override Governor Dannel Malloy’s veto of the bill requiring Connecticut’s Commissioner of Education to have appropriate education experience.

As the CT Newsjunkie reported in the article entitled, General Assembly Opts Not to Override Malloy’s Vetoes,

The House needed 101 votes to override Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s veto of a bill that outlined qualifications for a state Education Commissioner, but only 62 lawmakers voted in favor of an override Monday.

At least 21 representatives voted not to override the bill and a whopping 68 representatives did not attend Monday’s constitutional veto session. And even though House Speaker Brendan Sharkey allowed a vote on one of Malloy’s vetoes, the outcome was a foregone conclusion.

Sharkey said there were members of the Democratic caucus who felt strongly about the Education Commissioner bill to turn out Monday and vote to override it. There were 18 Democratic lawmakers who voted in favor of overriding Malloy’s veto.

One of those was Rep. Robyn Porter, D-New Haven. She said she thought the legislation, which specified that education commissioners must have at least five years’ experience as a teacher and three years as an administrator, was “good public policy.”

The bill originally passed the House 138-5 and got unanimous support in the Senate before being squelched by Malloy.

No Democratic legislator voted against the bill during the regular session, but apparently terrified to upset Governor Dannel Malloy or go against their own Democratic leaders, nearly 60% of the Democratic members of the House of Representatives failed to show up for the vote.

Of the 37 Democrats who did attend the veto session, 18 voted to override Governor Malloy’s veto, while an incredible 19 Democrats rolled over and changed their votes in a bizarre subservient gesture to Malloy.

Democrats switching sides to vote in favor of Malloy’s veto included the Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Majority Leader of the House Joe Aresimowicz, Chairman of the Education Committee, Andrew Fleischmann, Chairman of the Human Services Committee Peter Tercyak, and Windham State Representative  Susan Johnson  The entire list included;

DEMOCRATS supporting Malloy’s veto
ALTOBELLO
ARCE
ARESIMOWICZ
FLEISCHMANN
GENGA
HENNESSY
JANOWSKI
JOHNSON
LOPES
MCGEE
SANTIAGO, E.
SANTIAGO, H.
SIMMONS
STAFSTROM
TERCYAK
SHARKEY (SPKR)
GENTILE (DEP)
GODFREY (DEP)
SAYERS (DEP)

 

Democrats who failed to even show up at the 2015 Veto Session included

DEMOCRATS FAILED TO SHOW UP
ADAMS X
ARCONTI X
BACKER, T. X
BAKER X
BARAM X
BECKER, B. X
BERGER X
BOUKUS X
BRYCKI X
BUTLER X
CANDELARIA, J. X
CONROY X
CUEVAS X
CURREY X
DARGAN X
DILLON X
ESPOSITO X
FOX X
FRITZ X
GONZALEZ X
GUERRERA X
HAMPTON X
HEWETT X
KINER X
LESSER X
LUXENBERG X
MCCARTHY VAHEY X
MCCRORY X
MEGNA X
MILLER, P. X
MUSHINSKY X
PERONE X
REED X
RILEY X
RITTER X
ROJAS X
ROSARIO X
ROSATI X
ROSE X
SCANLON X
SERRA X
STALLWORTH X
TONG X
URBAN X
VERRENGIA X
WALKER X
ZONI X
MILLER, P.B. (DEP) X
MORRIS (DEP) X
RYAN (DEP) X

 

Democrats who stood up to Malloy and the Democratic Leadership and voted to override Malloy’s veto;

 

DEMOCRATS VOTED TO OVERRIDE MALLOY
ABERCROMBIE Y
ALBIS Y
ALEXANDER Y
COOK Y
D’AGOSTINO Y
DEMICCO Y
HADDAD Y
JUTILA Y
LEMAR Y
MORIN Y
NICASTRO Y
PORTER Y
ROVERO Y
SANCHEZ Y
STEINBERG Y
VARGAS Y
WILLIS Y
ORANGE (DEP) Y

 

Perhaps most telling of all, the following Democratic legislators co-sponsored the legislation requiring Connecticut’s commissioner of education have educational experience and then failed to back the bill when that support was necessary.

Rep. David W. Kiner, 59th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. David Arconti, 109th Dist.                    (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Juan R. Candelaria, 95th Dist.              (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Terry B. Adams, 146th Dist.                  (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Patricia Billie Miller, 145th Dist.         (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Kim Rose, 118th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Rep. Louis P. Esposito, 116th Dist.               (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Eric D. Coleman, 2nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, 17th Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.                           (Did not show up for the vote)

Sen. Marilyn Moore, 22nd Dist.                    (Voted NO on holding a vote)

If you don’t know who your State Senator or State Representative is go to http://www.cga.ct.gov/  and scroll down

By Comparison, 45 of the 64 (70 percent) of the Republicans were present at the Veto Session and all but two voted to override the Governor’s veto.

In the end, of the 62 members of the House of Representatives who were willing to stand up to Malloy, 70 percent were Republicans.

As CT Newsjunkie reported, in what may have been the most absurd moment of the entire 2015 legislative session, West Hartford Democrat and Chairman of the Education Committee Andrew Fleishmann changed his position in order to vote with Malloy explaining,

“[T]here was interest from the governor’s office to address the issue of Education Commissioner qualifications in the future. He said there will be an ongoing dialogue and it’s likely the bill will come up again next year.

“The administration is always open to discussion,” Fleischmann said.

The Republican legislators were clear, not only on the substance of the issue, but on the even more important procedure in which the Democrats ducked their responsibility to their constituents and the people of Connecticut.

The Republican leader of the State Senate, Len Fasano stated,

“This is politics over policy. “The legislature has spoken. The governor has every right to veto it, but when the majority party follows the politics and not the policy that makes this building very scary to me.”

Proving the accuracy of Fasano’s statement, the State Senate met after the House of Representatives had adjourned and voted 18-12, along party lines, not to take up any of Malloy’s nine vetoes.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff went so far as to blame the entire situation on the Republicans saying that the veto session was “complete theater by the Republicans.”

Duff added that the Republicans, “have been on a ‘bad news tour’ for the past month and have taken ‘rooting for failure to a new level.’”

Quite a commentary when a Democratic leader of the Connecticut State Senate claims that a demand that the Legislative Branch fulfill its constitutional duty is nothing but “theater by the Republicans.”

If Connecticut’s 2015 veto session proved anything, it is that in Hartford, as in Washington, far too many politicians have lost their way….forgetting that they serve the people of their district and not those who already have way too much power.

They would all do well to remember the lines of Bob Dylan’s song, “The Times They Are A-Changin'”

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’

You can read the full story in the CTNewsjunkie at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/general_assembly_doesnt_override_malloy/

More coverage can also be found in the CT Mirror at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/07/20/malloy-vetoes-stand-but-house-gop-forces-an-override-debate/

CT Republicans step up for students, parents and teachers as Democrats run away and hide

9 Comments

Watching the way Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has sought to undermine public education while denigrating, insulting and bullying public school teachers, one is left with the inevitable conclusion that Connecticut’s chief elected official is driven by some personal problem he has with educators.

But seeing the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly roll-over in support of Malloy’s corporate education reform initiatives and flee from the Democratic Party’s historic role as advocates for teachers, the teaching profession and public education suggests that the legislators elected under the Democratic Party Banner simply don’t feel a sense of appreciation, duty or obligation to support teachers or the students, parents and public schools of their districts.

The Decision to forgo even holding a vote on Governor Malloy’s veto of a bill to require Connecticut’s commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience has become a prime example of the Democratic Party’s apparent unwillingness to actually stand up and be counted on behalf of public education.

Of the 108 Democrat legislators in the Connecticut General Assembly, not one voted against the bill requiring the commissioner of education to have appropriate educational experience, but these same Democrats have now refused to even hold a vote on whether to sustain or override Malloy’s veto.

Political insiders dismiss the issue as nothing more than the realities associated with power politics.  While such politics is hardly new to Connecticut or the country, the underlying problem cannot be explained away so easily.

See: Malloy, Executive Power and the Politics of Appeasement (Wait, What? 7/18/15)

The harsh reality is that Governor Malloy, along with a variety of other Democratic leaders including Governor Cuomo of New York, Mayor Emanuel of Chicago and President Obama, have been engaged in an unprecedented assault on public education.

The utter failure of Democratic legislators, at the federal and state level, to stand up to that assault reflects a problem that has become so serious that proponents of public education are being forced to come to grips with the fact that the Democratic Party appears to be simply walking away from what may very well be the single most important issue in a democratic, egalitarian society.

While many Republicans across the country have acted no better, the Republican Party in Connecticut has taken an increasingly strong stand on behalf of public education.

While some would say their gesture is primarily political, the uncomfortable truth is that it is the Democrats who have repeatedly shown voters that politics trumps policy when it comes to these critically important education issues.

While Connecticut’s Democratic legislators have refused to even vote on whether to override Malloy’s veto, the response from Republican leaders have been clear, concise and absolutely on the side of students, parents, teachers and the value of public education to our future.

Democratic legislators may be gripped by fear when it comes potentially “embarrassing” Governor Malloy by overriding his veto, but people in the real world would rather see Connecticut’s Legislature Branch overcome their self-induced level of terror and actually perform their Constitutional responsibility.

As the Bristol Press put it in editorial this weekend entitled, OUR VIEW: Legislators must remember who it is they represent;

On Monday, the General Assembly will come together in special session, one that is technically is required, to decide whether members want to override any of the governor’s vetoes from the 2015 regular session.

But members won’t have the opportunity to restore any of the bills Gov. Dannel P. Malloy rejected, thanks to a decision by the Democratic leadership in the Legislature.

“The general consensus among our members, and in light of some of the governor’s concerns, is that these issues would be best re-looked at during the next regular session. Therefore we will not be scheduling any override votes,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, wrote Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, were not happy to hear the news.

“Failing to challenge the governor on his vetoes is putting politics before policy,” they said in a statement. “The legislature has overridden past governors, including Rell and Weicker. But Democrat lawmakers have never overridden a single Malloy veto ever. Simply accepting the governor’s vetoes is failing to represent and protect our constituents. We have a constitutional duty to the public to reassess these bills.”

They continued, “this is not a decision for only the majority leaders to make. Under our constitution it is up to the legislative body’s majority vote to consider an override of a governor’s veto. As such, there should be an opportunity for the assembly as a whole to voice its opinion. To gavel in and out without any reconsideration and without hearing input from all lawmakers violates our constitutional duty and therefore our obligations as elected representatives.”

We agree. Whatever their party, our elected representatives in the House and Senate are supposed to be the people’s voice at the Capitol. We understand that the leadership doesn’t want to put the rank and file in a position where they must choose between voting against the head of their party or against their constituents — if that’s what their conscience and the voters request — but  failing to do so leaves the people of Connecticut without representation. It also increases the arbitrary power of the governor’s office, suggesting that, even if a majority of the members of the Legislature disagree with him — and we have no reason to believe that they do — he shouldn’t or can’t be challenged.

Our view: Let the democratic process — small D — unfold!

Yes, the message to Democrats in Hartford is “let the democratic process – small D – unfold!”

But for those who belong to the Democratic Party or who tend to vote for the Democratic candidates, a parallel question is whether the Democrats’ continuing failure to stand up for public education invalidates their right to serve as the majority party in Connecticut.

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