Malloy’s State Bond Commission prepares to give corporate welfare to huge hedge fund.

Later this morning, Governor Dannel Malloy and the State Bond Commission are slated to vote on Malloy’s deal to give tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to AQR Capital, a hedge fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Initial reporting on the bizarre deal came via Wait Wait? when it reported, Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare.

Now CT Newsjunkie provides more in-depth reporting in a breaking story entitled, State Bond Commission Poised To Give Another Hedge Fund Money.

The CT Newsjunkie reports;

After a controversial decision earlier this year to give $22 million to the world’s largest hedge fund, Connecticut’s Bond Commission is looking to give $32 million to a Greenwich hedge fund managing $172.4 billion in assets.

On Tuesday, the state Bond Commission is being asked to approve a $28 million loan and $7 million in grants to AQR Capital in Greenwich. In exchange for the help from the state, the company will retain 580 jobs and create up to 217 new jobs within two years, according to the Bond Commission agenda.

The first $13 million of the loan will be forgiven if the company retains 797 jobs for two years. According to its website, the company already had 744 employees as of Sept. 30, 2016, but not all of its employees are in Connecticut. The company also has offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Hong Kong, and Sydney, according to its website.

The company will receive an additional $15 million forgivable loan with the goal of another 189 jobs within five years. The company would also be eligible for $7 million in incremental grants if it creates and retains an additional 140 jobs for a total of 1,126 jobs.

When the state gave $22 million to Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, the deal was criticized by a number of people on both sides of the political aisle because it comes at a time when the state is struggling with its debt, which is taking up an ever-increasing part of the state budget.

Perhaps most telling of all is that the company is ducking media questions about he deal.  As CT Newsjunkie added, “

“Phone calls to the company were not returned.”

For more on the AQR deal see Wait, What? article:  Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare

To read and comment on the full CT Newsjunkie on AQR go to:  http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/state_bond_commission_poised_to_give_another_hedge_fund_money/

Charter lobby chases cut of public funds (By Wendy Lecker)

Beware parents, teachers, school administrators, local education officials and Connecticut taxpayers! 

Not satisfied with diverting more than $110 million a year to privately owned, but publicly funded, charter school companies in Connecticut, the charter school industry is about to make a massive grab for even more public funds via a gimmick called “Money Follows the Child.”

Counting on the support from the ally, Governor Dannel Malloy, the charter school industry is intent on leaving Connecticut public schools will fewer resources and Connecticut residents with higher tax bills.

In her latest commentary piece entitled, Charter lobby chases cut of public funds, and first published in the Stamford Advocate, public education advocate, Wendy Lecker, lays out the issue.

As soon as Connecticut’s school funding decision in the CCJEF case was rendered, charter lobbyists in Connecticut began salivating at the prospect of using their political influence to craft a new school funding system that would benefit charter schools. Families for Excellent schools planned a rally for “fair funding” for charter schools and ConnCAN kicked its propaganda machine into high gear with polls and statements about the horrors of inequitable funding in Connecticut. The case is now on appeal, but the charter lobby is pressing its agenda now.

The embrace of the CCJEF decision by the charter lobby was extremely disingenuous, given that since the case was filed in 2005, neither ConnCAN nor any of the charter advocates even acknowledged the existence of CCJEF.

CCJEF was never about funding privately managed charter schools serving 1 percent of Connecticut students. The CCJEF plaintiffs seek adequate and equitable funding for the vast majority of children who attend Connecticut’s public schools — particularly in Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

However, ConnCAN, Families for Excellent Schools and Northeast Charter Network now see their opportunity to use the language of equity to serve their interests.

If you think it is illogical to call diverting public money intended for poor school districts serving the many to privately managed schools that serve the few “equity,” you are not alone.

In a growing body of case law, courts across the country are rejecting attempts to use their state constitutions to obtain equal funding for charter schools.

The most recent loss was suffered this month in New York by Northeast Charter Network — a well-funded lobby active in Connecticut — where an appellate court dismissed its attempt to get equal facilities funding for charter schools in Buffalo and Rochester.

New York’s decision is consistent with decisions in Arizona and New Jersey, where charter advocates sued for equal funding, and in Massachusetts, where charter advocates attempted to force the state to lift the charter cap. Washington State’s Supreme Court also ruled that charter schools are not entitled to equal funding, though on different grounds.

Charter advocates used similar arguments in these cases. They claimed that poor school districts have low student outcomes, so if a child chooses to go to a charter school they claim has better outcomes, that charter school has the right to equal funding.

In deciding these cases, courts have exposed the claims of charter schools as being at odds with the nature and purpose of the constitutional right to an adequate education.

First and foremost, these courts point out, charter schools do not have a constitutional right to anything. State constitutions protect children, not schools.

Choice is not a constitutional right, either. As the Massachusetts court explained, while the state must educate all children, there is no “constitutional right to choose a particular flavor of education.” Charters are the prime example of how school “choice” undermines constitutional notions of equality, as they often increase segregation, fail to serve English Language Learners, students with disabilities and other vulnerable children, and impose disproportionately harsh discipline on children of color.

The courts also note that while a state must adequately fund public education, there is no right to two parallel public school systems. They ruled that if a child can attend a district public school that is fully funded, then her right to an education is sufficiently safeguarded.

The courts emphasize that if the public school is not fully funded, the solution is certainly not to divert public funds to a charter school. As the New York court observed, funneling public dollars into a charter school is inconsistent with the State’s constitutional obligation, because “to divert public education funds away from the traditional public schools and toward charter schools would benefit a select few at the expense of” the majority of students in public schools.

These courts also note that charter schools are not like public schools. They are exempt from requirements that traditional public schools must follow. Most notably, they do not have to serve all children in a district nor provide all programs that public schools must provide. They were always envisioned as transitory, and can have their charter revoked if authorizing agencies conduct proper oversight.

Connecticut must reform its school funding system. But it cannot be misled by the charter lobby’s warped “save a few, forget the rest” mentality. Our leaders must ensure a well-funded public school system that serves all children, no matter what their needs. True equity means an adequate education for all.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s commentary piece at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Charter-lobby-chases-cut-of-public-10594980.php

Malloy gives Climate Change Denier $35 million in taxpayer funded corporate welfare

Despite Connecticut’s massive and growing fiscal crisis, Governor Dannel Malloy’s corporate welfare program continues to spin out of control.  This time the recipient of the Malloy administration’s taxpayer funded give-a-way program is another massive, extraordinarily profitable hedge fund, a company headed by a multi-millionaire corporate executive who is a climate change denier.

Last Wednesday, as the nation and its citizens reeled from the results of Election Day, Governor Dannel Malloy announced his decision to give Greenwich-based AQR Capital Management $35 million dollars in Connecticut taxpayer funds.

AQR Capital Management is one of the nation’s largest hedge funds, with assets of over $159 billion. The company’s CEO, Cliff Asness, is known for his Republican, Libertarian and right-wing politics, including his consistent denial that climate change is a problem facing the world.

As the Hartford Business Journal reported in, Greenwich firm to expand with $35M in state loans, grants,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday announced the company’s participation in the Department of Economic and Community Development’s First Five program, providing up to $28 million in loans and up to $7 million in grants to support the firm’s $72 million expansion project. AQR Capital will retain 540 jobs as it creates new ones, Malloy said.

Since the Malloy administration’s corporate welfare program is funded through state borrowing, the $35 million gift to AQR Capital Management will cost taxpayers well in excess of $40 million.

Making the corporate subsidy all the more outrageous, AQR’s top executive has been an extremely controversial figure in the business world.

Addressing Cliff Asness’ statements, a Fortune Magazine article published on March 11, 2015 and entitled, Top hedge fund manager: Global warming isn’t a danger, reported;

One of Wall Street’s most successful hedge fund managers is once again wading into the climate change debate. His conclusion: It’s not as big of a problem as some suggest.

The hedge fund executive went on to suggest that, “based on the current pace of global warming, it will take another 500 years before the changes become a real problem.”

Connecticut crippling state debt is already making it impossible to maintain vital services and will leave future generations with impossibly high debt payments.

In fact, Governor Malloy’s unprecedented use of corporate welfare will cost Connecticut taxpayers well in excess of $1 billion and his fiscally irresponsible policies have already undermined Connecticut state government’s ability to meet its obligations in the years and decades to come.

Malloy administration approves faux Relay School of Education teacher training program

Independent investigation needed into Malloy and charter school industry’s action to undermine teacher certification in Connecticut.

Is influence peddling behind the likely approval of Relay School of Education’s Connecticut proposal?

Although the corporate education reform entity, Relay School of Education, has recently been prohibited from working in California and Pennsylvania, Governor Dannel Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education are poised today to grant the controversial teacher training scheme, “full program approval” to operate in Connecticut.

The stunning move comes after months of illegal lobbying by the Relay School of Education, including direct contact between Relay corporate officers and some of the highest ranking officials in the Malloy administration.

Relay School of Education is closely associated with the charter school industry and has particularly close ties to Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school chain with schools in Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island.  Achievement First’s CEO is a key player on the Relay School of Education’s Board of Directors.

Charter school advocate Jonathan Sackler, who help fund Achievement First and sits on its Board of Directors is one of Malloy’s largest campaign contributors.  A number of Malloy’s other top campaign contributors have deep connections to Achievement First and the charter school industry that has been working, so hard, to persuade the State Department of Education to overlook Relay School of Education’s poor track record and faulty Connecticut proposal.

In addition to engaging in illegal lobbying, the Relay School of Education has been violating state law and regulations by engaging in activities prior to receiving state approval.

However, despite these serious legal problems and a proposal deemed insufficient by a number of experts, State Department of Education officials are pushing for a quick approval of the Relay School of Education’s application at today’s State Board of Education meeting.

If Malloy’s appointees on the State Board of Education approve the Relay School of Education’s proposal, Connecticut’s Attorney General, the Office of State Ethics and the State Auditors should immediately open an investigation into the role Governor Malloy’s administration or his campaign contributors played in tilting executive decision making in favor of the Relay School of Education.

Connecticut’s students, parents, teachers, public schools and taxpayers deserve better.

Relay Graduate School of Education – Illegal lobbying marks effort to undermine Connecticut’s teacher certification law

The charter school industry and their allies in the corporate education reform business are chortling over the news that the State Board of Education is meeting on Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building Room to approve an underhanded effort to allow a major education reform company to end-run Connecticut’s teacher preparation program.

According to the State Board of Education’s agenda, Governor Dannel Malloy’s political appointees will hold an executive session, on Wednesday, and then immediately re-convene to adopt a motion that would allow the charter school industry’s Relay Graduate School of Education to operate in Connecticut.

Recently rejected in both California and Pennsylvania, the Relay Graduate School of Education corporation has set up shop in New Haven, Connecticut where it offers selected charter school personnel and others with a drive-through Master’s Degree in Education.

As for Relay Graduate School of Education, Seton Hall Professor Daniel Katz wrote a scathing article about the education reform entity reporting;

It is a “Graduate School of Education” that has not a single professor or doctoral level instructor or researcher affiliated with it. In essence, it is a partnership of charter school chains Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First… Relay’s “curriculum” mostly consists of taking the non-certified faculty of the charter schools, giving them computer-delivered modules on classroom management (and distributing copies of Teach Like a Champion), and placing them under the auspices of the “no excuses” brand of charter school operation and teachers who already have experience with it.

Not only is the Malloy administration’s upcoming action bad public policy, it now appears that the Relay Graduate School of Education is violating Connecticut law on two fronts.

Although officials from the highest level of the Relay School of Education have been lobbying top officials of the Malloy administration, the New York based company has failed to register with the State Ethics Office, as required by state law.

Connecticut law clearly requires that any individual or organizations engaged in lobbying MUST register and file monthly reports with the Office of State Ethics. A requirement that Relay has failed to fulfill.  The Ethics agency explains that,

“Administrative Lobbying  is  any lobbying that affects, among other things, the rules or regulations of an executive agency, and the actions of an executive or quasi-public agency regarding a contract, grant, award, purchasing agreement, etc.;”

In addition to illegally seeking to impact Connecticut public policy, Relay is also violating state law by beginning operations in Connecticut prior to being granted the required permission.

Sadly, the effort to undermine Connecticut’s teacher preparation system and the value of teacher certification is nothing new for Malloy and his administration. Malloy has consistently sought to divert scarce public funds to the charter schools, while degrading the value of Connecticut’s teacher preparation programs.  In this case, he achieves both goals.  The Vice Chair of Relay Graduate School’s Board of Directors is none-other-than Dacia Toll, the CEO of Achievement First, Inc., the charter school chain that has pulled in millions of dollars in Connecticut taxpayer funds as a result of Malloy’s policies.

You can read more about the Relay School of Education via Wendy Lecker’s article – Drive up education degree is an insult to every student, parent, teacher and taxpayer

Malloy claims $5.7 million state budget deficit … But $400 million is closer to the truth

Early last summer the Connecticut General Assembly adopted a budget agreement that had been negotiated between Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives.

In truth, the new state budget was out of balance the day it was signed into law and the situation has only gotten worse over the last four months.

Connecticut Income Tax revenues are down.

Connecticut Sales Tax revenues are down

Of the $209 million in “lapse” savings required in the state budget, Malloy has yet to identify $61 million in cuts.

And while the budget plan required about 2,000 layoffs in order to balance, the governor has only implemented about half that number.

Meanwhile, the poorly developed Malloy/Democratic austerity budget will lead to a variety of expenditures above budgeted amounts.

Together, these items translate to a REAL budget deficit in this year’s state budget in the range of $400 million or more.

However, rather than tell the citizens of Connecticut the truth about Connecticut’s continuing fiscal crisis, Governor Dannel Malloy lied to the people of Connecticut in the hope that voters would not take their anger out on the Democratic legislators who voted for the bad budget deal.

As the CT Mirror explained,

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy reported a minuscule state budget deficit [On October 20, 2016] — projecting a $6 million shortfall in state government’s $17.9 billion General Fund.

[…]

“We are projecting a minor $5.7 million operating deficit,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes, Malloy’s budget chief, wrote in his official monthly forecast to Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

“Given that our estimates reflect information only through the first quarter of this fiscal year, this projection does not represent a material deviation from the budget plan.”

[…]

Still, it comes just six weeks after the administration reported a fiscal hole 23 times larger than this one in a memo to dozens of agency heads.

The CT Mirror’s story added,

“These budget numbers from the governor’s office are at odds with what every other reasonable observer knows and what other independent analysts have stated: Connecticut’s finances are a mess and 20 days before the election this partisan Democratic office wants to confuse and defuse when it comes to the salient facts,” House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said. “We are in huge trouble and we all know it will come out after Nov. 8, Election Day.

And

“The governor has downplayed and misstated facts for at least a year,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said. “The inability to face the real facts just gets this state deeper and deeper and deeper into trouble, and the enablers are the Democratic majority.”

For those tracking Malloy’s deficit charade, the CT Mirror broke the story that Malloy’s Budget Director wrote to agency heads last month informing them that there was a $133 million revenue shortfall in this year’s budget.  However, days later, this same official wrote to State Comptroller Kevin Lembo telling him that there was no budget deficit at all.

Malloy’s latest political tactic is strikingly similar to the one he used when he was running for re-election in 2014.  For months he told Connecticut voters that there was no state budget deficit, nor would there be any state budget deficit if he was re-elected to a second term in office.

However, ten days after Election Day 2014, Malloy announced that a major state deficit had suddenly appeared.

While Malloy strains to keep the magnitude of this year’s state budget deficit secret, the truth will become increasingly apparent in the weeks following this year’s November 8th election.

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.

 

Malloy Administration considering 64.5% tuition increase for 17,000 Community College students

Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democrat controlled General Assembly have already made record cuts to Connecticut’s public colleges and universities, cuts that have resulted in massive tuition increases and reduced services, but as the CT Mirror is reporting, Governor Malloy’s austerity budget strategies may now lead to a 64.5 percent increase in tuition and fees for more than 17,000 of Connecticut’s college students.

While Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and other national Democratic leaders propose to make a community college education free in the United States, the Malloy administration is floating a proposal that would lead to a massive spike in cost for those attempting to get a college degree at one of Connecticut’s community colleges.

In, Steep tuition hike pitched for many community college students, the CT Mirror reports

Currently, students who pay full-time tuition can take up to 18 credit hours. A proposal that the Board of Regents’ finance panel will consider next Thursday would charge students $150 in tuition and $74 in mandatory fees for each credit they take over 12. A student who took 18 credit hours would be charged an extra $1,344 over the current cost of $2,084 a semester, a 64.5 percent increase.

[…]

There were 17,073 community college students who took more than 12 credits a semester last year, about one of every six community college students. If the colleges had charged for credit hours in excess of 12, the proposal estimates, the colleges would have collected $8.7 million in tuition revenue.

The Malloy administration’s strategy is likely a bait and switch effort to make an otherwise outrageous tuition increase look “reasonable.”

Considering the state of the economy and the socio-economic status of the students attending Connecticut’s community colleges, any major increase in tuition will mean fewer students getting the college education they need to live more fulfilling and productive lives.

Why is Governor Dannel Malloy on a mission to destroy Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High Schools

Yesterday’s news headlines read:

State education board eyes closing 2 vo-tech schools, other cuts  (CT Mirror 10/5/16)

And

More Layoffs, Vo-Tech School Closures Possible As Malloy’s Budget Office Seeks Spending Cuts (Courant 10/5/16)

The message to Connecticut’s young people was clear and concise.  Think twice before planning to go to one of Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High Schools.

It was déjà vu all over again!

Governor Dannel Malloy talks a good game about making Connecticut’s children “college and career” ready, but his actions and his budget plans speak louder than words.  In fact, they tell a very different story about his commitment to children and Connecticut’s economy.

In 2011, at the beginning of his first term as governor, Dannel Malloy actually proposed to disband Connecticut’s successful Vo-Tech high school system altogether, this despite the fact that theses schools have provided tens of thousands of Connecticut citizens with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and the workforce.

When students, parents, teachers, the business community and legislators fought back, Malloy eventually retreated and allowed the 18 schools and their nearly 11,000 students to exist.

However, from that day on, a short-sighted and mean-spirited Malloy administration has consistently used the state budget to squeeze the life out of these important and valuable schools, all while the governor claimed he was making education a priority.

A Wait,What? headline from this past May told the story.  Entitled, Malloy and Legislative Democrats target Regional Vo-Tech high schools for devastating cuts, the article reported that the so called “compromise” budget agreement between Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders cut the Vo-Tech High School budget by $7.8 million, dropping the state’s investment in vocational and technical education from $171 million a year to $163 million.  The new budget also empowered Malloy to cut the Vo-Tech high schools even more via layoffs and budget rescissions.

Some Democrats cried big alligator tears about the irresponsible budget but most, nevertheless, voted in favor of the despicable reductions that have already reduced programs and limited opportunities at the Vo-Tech schools.

And now, the Malloy administration is preparing to do even more harm to Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools.

In what should be an unbelievable move, Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education have voted to eliminate two Vo-Tech High Schools as part of their budget cutting plan.

The CT Mirror explains;

The State Board of Education Wednesday endorsed a proposal to close two of the state’s vocational technical high schools and end all athletic programs at the remaining ones if the department’s budget is cut by 10 percent in the next fiscal year – an amount the governor’s budget chief has told agencies is likely.

These state-run schools enroll 11,000 students and have steadily been cut over the last several years as state legislators worked to close budget deficits.

Budget proposals serve as a blueprint, effectively highlighting a governor’s priorities and goals.

Let there be no mistake…

Malloy’s unending efforts to destroy Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical system speak volumes.

Students, parents, teachers and taxpayers are on notice, yet again, that Connecticut has a governor who utterly fails to understand or appreciate Connecticut public schools or what is best for Connecticut’s economy and its citizens.