Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF], Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Education Funding, Malloy, State Budget, Wendy Lecker CCJEF v. Rell, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Education Funding, Malloy, Wendy Lecker
Wendy Lecker, leading public education advocate, education funding expert and fellow education columnist, returns to the issue of Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration’s utter failure to address the historic underfunding of Connecticut’s public schools or provide our students, parents, teachers and public schools with the resources and support they need to ensure a quality education for every Connecticut child.
At a time when a comprehensive, quality education is more important than ever, it is a stunning and terrible commentary that a governor, commissioner of education and legislature would intentionally refuse to fulfill one of their most fundamental and important responsibilities. It is truly a sign of the times.
In her latest column, that first appeared in the Stamford Advocate this past weekend, Wendy Lecker writes;
Maintaining the status quo of two Connecticuts
The defense is in full swing at Connecticut’s school funding trial, CCJEF v. Rell. The state is attempting to make the case that Connecticut’s poorest schools do not need any more state funding.
As if to hammer home their point, the newly minted deal from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Democratic legislators slashes nearly $100 million from state education aid. More than $30 million will be cut from the state’s funding formula, ECS, along with tens of millions cut for school transportation, millions cut from special education; and cuts to additional state aid to Connecticut’s poorest districts, such as millions cut from priority school grants and turnaround funds.
These state aid reductions will have the most devastating effect in our poorest school districts. As detailed in an earlier column, Hartford is already forced to cut teachers, guidance counselors, intervention specialists and other key staff and programs. Further cuts to state aid will force more deprivation for these already starving schools.
How is the state dealing with this reality in court? The testimony of Education Commissioner Wentzell provides a clue. Wentzell, who spent most of her career in wealthy school districts or selective choice programs, repeatedly asserted on the stand that “leadership is much more important than money.” She even went so far as to claim that “(l)eadership without money works very well.” When asked whether resources might have something to do with student achievement, she pointedly evaded the question, even when the judge asked her directly.
Wentzell clung to her notion that all schools need is “leadership” even while conceding that CCJEF districts lack adequate basic resources such as guidance counselors. She downplayed the importance of other essential educational resources. For example, despite universal agreement that pre-K improves academic and life outcomes, especially for poor children, Wentzell said she did not know whether pre-K helps close achievement gaps. She also discounted the shortage of library and media specialists in Connecticut’s poorest districts.
Wentzell sang a different tune at Connecticut’s All-State Music Festival, just days after her testimony. The All-State Festival selects, based on auditions, student musicians from across the state from among those who already made the cut in earlier regional festivals. The students who were selected spent two days rehearsing with guest conductors, then performed for the public at the Connecticut Convention Center. Addressing the audience and more than 400 student-musicians before the concerts, Wentzell emphasized that music is essential to a quality education; claiming she and the state are committed to music education in Connecticut’s public schools.
Although the festival took place in Hartford, not one Hartford student participated in the concerts. Nor were there students from Bridgeport, Windham, New Britain or New London schools — all CCJEF plaintiff districts. The concert participants were virtually all from Connecticut’s wealthier districts.
It is not that talent only resides in Connecticut’s affluent towns. In Bridgeport, because of a lack of resources, instrumental programs are virtually nonexistent. There is no instrumental program in elementary school and very little in middle school. Harding High School had no music teacher until last year. Only one Bridgeport high school has a small band. The story is similar in Hartford. Many schools cannot offer any music classes at all. There is no instrumental music in Windham’s elementary schools, except for the higher-funded STEM magnet, and very little in middle school. As a result, Windham’s high school music programs are small. New Britain has to rely on outside grants to try to cobble together an elementary music program. Children in our poorest districts have little exposure to music education and their talent goes undeveloped.
Does Commissioner Wentzell think that “leadership” will enable these districts to conjure flutes and violins from thin air?
The contradictory messages Wentzell sent in court and on the stage at the All-State Festival are telling. For her, children in Connecticut’s poorest districts do not need essentials such as guidance counselors, pre-K, libraries, or music, as long as they have “leadership.” But children in Connecticut’s wealthiest districts can have it all.
Wentzell, Malloy and our other state leaders are clearly content with the status quo of two Connecticuts: well-appointed schools in wealthy mostly white towns, and our poorest schools, serving our neediest children and mostly children of color, unable to provide the basics. Let us hope that the judge sees the injustice Connecticut’s political leaders refuse to acknowledge.
Wendy Lecker’s article first appeared in the Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Connecticut Media Group publications. You can read and comment on it at at: http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Maintaining-the-status-quo-of-two-7467340.php
Corruption, Democratic Legislators, Democratic Party, Malloy, State Budget Democratic Legislators, Democratic Party, Malloy, State Budget
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
Beware fellow citizens…
The disastrous state budget plan developed by Governor Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly is getting worse by the minute.
Having managed to hide key budget details from the public until the day of the vote, Democratic legislators are now being instructed to approve a budget implementation bill that includes numerous outrageous provisions that would never pass if they stood on their own.
Traditionally referred to as “rats,” select legislators, lobbyists and special interests use what is called “back of the budget” language to circumvent the traditional legislative process.
A prime example of this tactic can be found in Section 188 of the new state budget bill.
Connecticut residents may remember how Governor Malloy and other state leaders endorsed the construction of the new baseball stadium in Hartford, falsely stating that not only would the facility be a win-win for the Capitol City, but that Connecticut taxpayers would not be on the hook for subsidizing the project.
Of course, such was not the case.
Legislative language hidden deep inside today’s budget bill exempts events at the Dunkin Donut stadium from having to collect Connecticut’s 10 percent Admission Tax and, instead, sets up a new law that allows Hartford to add its own 10 percent surcharge on all tickets sold at the “Home of the Yard Goats.”
The money from this extra tax would flow straight to Hartford City Hall…. Providing the boondoggle with a much-needed public subsidy from Connecticut taxpayers
To sweeten the deal, the Malloy/Democratic leadership budget also adds a provision that a group of other cities could put on their own admission tax in their particular venues, but the others could only collect up to 5% of the cost of a ticket.
Meanwhile, the same outrageous implementation budget bill includes unprecedented language that allows cities and towns to simply cut their local public school budgets by the amount of any reduction in state aid those schools.
This means that while a number of cities and towns will be getting a major pot of cash dumped on the non-education side of the budget, they won’t even have to maintain their efforts to fund their schools.
And if those two sections weren’t telling enough, any member of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives who votes in favor of this bill will be taking the truly unprecedented step of adopting a law that would literally PROHIBIT the non-partisan office of Fiscal Analysis from reporting on future budget expenditures and possible deficits that are the result of the annual increases that go with maintaining current services.
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!
With no public hearing, no public input and no public notice, Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have including language in this year’s budget implementation bill that intentionally prevents the media and the public from knowing the true ongoing costs of state government.
The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains this incredible development in his latest article;
Future state deficit forecasts are likely to shrink significantly under a method imposed in the new state budget plan that disregards billions of dollars in annual expenditures not fixed by contract or federal mandate.
The language, proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is included in an omnibus policy bill to help implement the proposed $19.76 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, blasted the measure — which was released only a few hours before the Senate was expected to debate it Wednesday morning — as a means to hide Connecticut’s fiscal woes from the public.
Malloy and his budget director, Benjamin Barnes, have been critical for several years of the deficit-forecasting methodology used by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.
OFA generally tries to assess both the current and future costs of all programs, staffing, grants and other expenditures, whether fixed by contract or federal requirement, or simply set by state law.
The new methodology would disregard cost increases in most state programs, excepting debt service, retirement benefits and federal entitlement programs.
“Moving away from ‘current services’ will help us ensure that government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot,” the governor said Wednesday. “As part the budget agreement, the state will change how it does business, and give residents and businesses the predictability they seek as government works to live within its means.”
The language is nothing but a blatant effort by Malloy and the Democratic legislature to hide the true costs of maintaining state services and preventing voters from understanding the ramifications of taxes and spending.
Dismissing the most fundamental notions of open government and democracy, Malloy and the Democratic leaders are engaged in a new political strategy based on keeping the citizens ignorant about how their government functions and how it spends their money.
No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.
Today’s original Wait, What? post is even more relevant than when it was first posted.
Any CT legislator who votes for the proposed State Budget deserves to lose in November
Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Democratic Party, Malloy, State Budget, Taxes Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Democratic Party, Malloy, State Budget, Taxes
There are times when an elected official is faced with a choice between doing what is right and doing what is politically expedient in an effort to get along to go along. The vote on the proposed state budget agreement between Governor Dannel Malloy and the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly is just such a vote.
Their proposed budget is a fiscally irresponsible and mean-spirited farce.
It is a budget that relies on record cuts to vital services and public education and unfairly dumps Connecticut’s fiscal programs on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens and our children.
The proposed budget coddles the rich and claims to limit tax increases, yet will force cities and towns across Connecticut to raise local property taxes on the state’s middle class.
And for what it is worth, the proposed budget does not even balance.
After using one-time revenue, diverting public funds from their intended purposes, borrowing to pay operating costs, and laying off thousands of public employees, this sham of a budget will be out of balance by at least $100 million dollars the day it is signed into law.
Not to mention the damage this budget will do our local public schools and to the people who need and deserve the health and human services that allow them to live more productive and fulfilling lives.
Governor Dannel Malloy is wrong when he says it is a good budget and he is lying when he says it is fiscally responsible.
The Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly who negotiated this terrible “compromise” plan are wrong when they say it is a good budget and they are lying when they say it is fiscally responsible.
And the business executives who are lobbying Connecticut legislators to vote yes on this disastrous plan are throwing the state’s citizens, including our small business owners who generate the vast majority of jobs, under the bus.
Instead of patting themselves on the back, Connecticut’s elected officials should be throwing out this piece of crap budget and get to work putting together a budget that is fair, honest and fiscally responsible.
Any legislator who votes for the Malloy/Democratic Leadership plan should be defeated in this November’s election and replaced with someone who is capable of standing up and doing the right thing for the people of Connecticut.
Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget, Taxes, Wyman Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget, Taxes, Wyman
Although Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and the Democratic leaders in the legislature have still not released all the details about the “Malloy/Democratic Compromise Budget,” the General Assembly is expected to vote on the spending plan as early as tomorrow – Thursday, May 12, 2016.
Clinging to his inaccurate claim that his budget doesn’t raise taxes, one of the small details associated with Malloy’s irresponsible approach to managing state government became apparent yesterday as the CT Newsjunkie and The Day newspaper of New London reported that the Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Office will stop, “its longstanding practice of performing toxicology tests for most sudden deaths.
The Malloy/Wyman solution – just have local towns pay the costs.
As The Day reported,
Dr. James Gill told reporters Monday that an impending 5.75 percent cut to the office’s approximately 6.2 million budget, which included two layoffs and is the latest in a series of budget cuts at the state level, means that, beginning June 1, the office will stop its toxicology work in relation to homicides, motor vehicle deaths and most suicides.
The office still will make the corresponding blood samples available to police, Gill said, but it will be up to police to seek out private toxicology testing — something that can cost almost $200 per test.
In addition, the Day explained that the State’s Chief Medical Examiner announced that the office itself could lose its accreditation from the National Association of Medical Examiners this summer due to the budget cuts and layoffs that are part of the Malloy/Democratic compromise budget.
“When an official with the association visited Connecticut last year for the office’s annual review, she noted that the office’s seven autopsy pathologists were on track to perform 325 autopsies each that year — a number that, if exceeded, would cause the office to lose its full accreditation.
In the past almost two years, the office’s autopsy numbers have increased 58 percent — from 1,488 to 2,357 — stretching employees thin and leading to a projected budget shortfall of $456,000 for this fiscal year.
The official recommended adding an eighth medical examiner to the staff, noting that Gill already has taken on a full case load in addition to his administrative duties.
“Loss of accreditation means that an office cannot meet the minimal standards of practice for death investigation,” Gill explained in a March meeting with the state legislative Appropriations Committee. “Mistakes by a medical examiner put people’s lives at risk, can result in the innocent (being) imprisoned and cost millions of dollars in civil claims.”
In the fall last year, he told the committee, the office proposed reorganizational and hiring plans that “would have saved the office money,” but couldn’t be fully implemented because of the hiring freeze in place at the time.
The Team Malloy solution…
State expenses shifted to local taxpayers
Larger budget deficits due to the required use of more overtime.
Or as Malloy calls it – “structural change.”
State Budget, Susan Herbst, Tuition, UConn, Yale State Budget, Tuition, UConn, UConn President Susan Herbst
At the end of last month, UConn Daily Campus reporter Kyle Constable sat down with UConn President Susan Herbst for an interview. Among the topics covered was the controversy surrounding the fate of the UConn Co-op, the institution that has been serving students, faculty and the greater UConn community for the past 41 years.
While President Herbst’s answers to the student reporter’s questions were telling, the session was notable, not so much for what UConn’s President said, but how she conducted herself when dealing with a member of the media.
Upon reading the recorded transcript of the interview, one possible conclusion is that when no one was looking, Donald Trump snuck into the President’s office and possessed Herbst’s mind. Alternatively, Herbst has been studying Trump’s meteoric rise and decided to take a page out of The Donald’s abusive and insulting approach to reporters and the media.
In any case, the public servant who collected a salary and benefits in excess of $768,558 during the last fiscal year – a $50,000 raise from the year before – managed to turn a routine “end-of-the-year” interview into a situation that should be cause for concern for UConn’s students, faculty and alumni, as well as, the state’s taxpayers and policymakers.
As background, the corporatization of the University of Connecticut took another strong step forward last month with UConn’s announcement that Barnes & Noble had been selected to replace the historic UConn Co-op bookstores. The UConn Co-op is closing and the national bookstore chain will step in with a promise to improve services and upgrade facilities.
Prices may (or may not) go up, depending on who is assessing the situation, but one of the benefits – according to reports produced by the University of Connecticut – is that UConn will receive “millions of dollars” in revenues from the sale of books and other items sold at the new Barnes & Noble stores.
The move to turn UConn’s non-profit bookstore over to a for-profit company has generated significant controversy. See: UConn Co-op Bookstore Could Be Replaced By National Corporation (Hartford Courant 12/8/15), UConn Co-op to be replaced by national corporation (Daily Campus 3/11/16), Barnes & Noble to Lead UConn’s Bookstore Operation (UConn Today 4/27/16)
However, as noted, the news of the moment is not about the bookstore but about the UConn President’s demeanor when sitting down with a reporter who was asking legitimate and important policy questions.
In a case like this, it is best to simply let the content speak for itself.
The Daily Campus headline read – One-on-one: Herbst talks UConn’s path forward in face of uncertainty
Then leaping to the subsection entitled: The Co-op, Barnes & Noble
Constable [The UConn Daily Campus reporter]: The Co-op has been an institution at the university for a very, very long time. There were questions about its ability fiscally sustainable in the long term for some time. Looking at the Storrs Center bookstore location – folks over at the Co-op would say they were forced into it despite the fact that they knew it would put them in a position to make the fiscally unsustainable. Did the university make a decision that ultimately resulted in the Co-op not being able to remain its bookstore?
President Herbst: No, and we have communicated a lot on this subject, yeah, we’re done. (Looking at deputy chief of staff Michael Kirk) You have anything to add?
President Herbst’s Deputy chief of Staff Kirk: About the Co-op?
President Herbst: Yeah.
Kirk: No, I mean, it’s important to keep in mind this change wasn’t just about whether or not the Co-op was profitable. Whether it’s profitable or not, the concern on their part was they didn’t they could make it for the long term. They didn’t have a way out, other than a university bailout. At the same time, there was mounting complaints from students, and faculty and fans and others saying this is not the bookstore that we want, not the bookstore we need. So those things combined led the university to say, “We should look at what our alternatives are.” It’s wasn’t just, “Oh, the Co-op’s not profitable, therefore—” It was, “We’re not getting the kind of service out of this that we need as big university in the 21st century.”
Constable: So talk a little bit about what Barnes & Noble brings to the table for the future of the university.
President Herbst: Yeah, we had— have you read all our material about this?
Constable: Of course.
President Herbst: Yeah, so, have you been to Barnes & Noble recently? Like the Yale Co-op?
Constable: Yes, earlier this week.
President Herbst: That’s what you’re going to get, getting great programming. We’ll have guarantees on how many community programs and authors, but we’ll have our own events there, too. You will have a guarantee about textbook prices and a matching program, which we don’t have right now. There will be more and diverse gear. I mean, I think you see the difference between the Yale bookstore and what we’ve had. So, there it was, right in front of you.
So there you are – it is right in front of you!
Or as Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Edition put it –“JANE, YOU IGNORANT SLUT.”
Yale bookstore good
UConn Co-op bad
Yale bookstore is for winners
UConn Co-op is for losers
Barnes & Nobile is the kind of store UConn needs to be, “a big university in the 21st century.”
And PS, anyone who doesn’t get it is just stupid
Or as Trump put it,
“We’re not going to lose. We’re going to start winning again and we’re going to win big-ly.” – Donald Trump 5/3/16
To fully appreciate President Herbst’s entire approach, check out the full Daily Campus article at: http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/5/6/one-on-one-herbst-talks-uconns-path-forward-in-face-of-uncertainty
Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Education Funding, Malloy, State Budget, Vo-Tech High Schools, Wyman Democratic Legislators, Education Funding, Malloy, State Budget, Vo-Tech High Schools, Wyman
Unable to get a budget agreement with Governor Dannel Malloy to the floor of the Connecticut House of Representative and State Senate in time, the Connecticut General Assembly crashed and burned last Wednesday night as the 2016 regular session came to the end.
Although a super-secret budget agreement had been reached between Governor “my way or no way” Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the legislature, various factors, including partisan politics and the political fallout from what is actually contained in the budget, resulted in the postponement of the debate and vote on a new state budget until a special session that will be held soon.
While some of the details about the budget agreement between Malloy and the Democratic legislative leadership have been revealed, much of it remains shrouded in secrecy.
According to budget documents that surfaced last week, the massive list of cuts to state programs and services includes an incredible $7.7 million cut to Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical high schools.
While Governor Malloy, Lt. Governor Wyman and state legislators across the political spectrum brag about their commitment to preparing Connecticut’s children for the economy of the 21st Century, their actions fall far short of their rhetoric.
The state of Connecticut reports;
The Connecticut Technical High School System (CTHSS) is committed to providing quality and challenging academic and technical programs. Its mission is to ensure that students are successful in the workplace, take advantage of postsecondary educational opportunities, and secure advanced apprenticeship training that prepare them for the 21st century workplace. Therefore, the CTHSS has developed a challenging program of study for each of the 37 technical programs. These areas include: construction, manufacturing, electronics, information technology, culinary arts, health tech, and other service areas.
But the reality is that Malloy’s record, when it comes to support for the Vo-Tech high school system, waivers between benign negligence and an outright effort to completely destroy the successful education program.
At the beginning of his first term as governor, Malloy proposed disbanding the Vo-Tech high school system altogether. When students, parents, teachers, the business community and legislators fought back, Malloy retreated and allowed the 18 schools and their nearly 11,000 students to exist.
However, the Malloy administration has consistently used the state budget to squeeze these important and valuable schools, a system of highs schools that are successfully helping thousands of students have more successful careers.
At last count, approximately 95 percent of Vo-Tech students graduate and almost half (45 percent) of those graduates go on to pursue higher education opportunities.
Others use their Vo-Tech training in one of the 30 occupational trade programs to enter the workforce with the skills needed to get and keep a job in these difficult economic times.
Yet, as Connecticut’s economy continues to lag, rather than invest in more vocational and technical programs, or at least provide the funds needed to maintain the level of services at the state’s existing schools, the budget that the Democrats are being instructed to support includes a record-breaking budget cut to the Vo-Tech high school system.
The budget the General Assembly passed last June and was signed into law by Governor Malloy provided almost $171 million dollars to fund the costs associated with Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools.
Although many, if not most, of the state legislators in Hartford are unaware of the impending disaster, the Malloy/Democratic leadership compromise budget would reduce funding to $163 million – a cut of nearly $8 million. The new budget would also grant the governor with the power to reduce funding for the Vo-Tech high schools even more through layoffs and budget rescissions.
Once the legislature adopts a new state budget, Democrat and Republic incumbents will turn their time and attention to their re-election campaigns.
When you hear them on the campaign trail saying that they support programs to provide Connecticut’s children with the knowledge and skills to be “college and career” ready … just know …. They are lying.
Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget Connecticut General Assembly, Democratic Legislators, Malloy, State Budget
Watching a horrible car crash take place would be less traumatic than witnessing Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly careen toward their constitutionally mandated deadline of midnight tonight (May, 4, 2016.)
While a Special Session of the Connecticut Legislature will undoubtedly be needed to “clean up” a state budget plan that was developed behind closed doors and remains a mystery to the people of Connecticut, and most of the legislators who will be voting for or against it in the coming hours, the sad reality is that most of the Democratic members of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives appear to be willing to vote for a state spending plan that continues to coddle the rich while instituting unprecedented cuts to vital human services, Connecticut public schools and other critically important programs.
As Connecticut’s media outlets report, details about the budget are “scarce.”
In fact, it would be impossible for most legislators to have a real understanding of how the Democrat’s “compromise” budget will impact the state, their districts or the people they have sworn to represent.
The media headlines paint a disturbing picture of the mismanagement that continues to mark Dannel Malloy’s time in office.…
Democrats, governor strike budget deal, aim for Wednesday vote (CT Mirror)
Dems Get A Budget Deal, But Republicans Have To Let Them Pass It (CT Newsjunkie)
Malloy, Legislative Leaders Reach Deal On Deep Cuts, No Tax Increases (Hartford Courant)
A true snapshot of the problem becomes evident as the CT Mirror reports;
Democratic legislators ended a tense day of negotiations with the governor Tuesday by announcing a deal on a new state budget that the General Assembly will race to adopt Wednesday before the constitutional adjournment deadline of midnight.
Passage will require the cooperation of the Republican minority, an uncertain prospect after House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, exchanged insults outside the Capitol pressroom.
Sharkey and Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, largely glossed over the spending cuts necessary to balance the budget, focusing instead on positive aspects: No tax increases, more money for transportation funding and revenue-sharing with towns, albeit at lesser amounts than originally planned. It also avoids tapping Connecticut’s emergency reserve.
The leaders said the package would close a nearly $1 billion gap in the fiscal year that begins July 1, but the line-by-line details would not be available until Wednesday.
The plan imposes deep cuts on salary accounts in most state departments and commissions that probably would require Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to reduce the state workforce beyond the nearly 2,600 jobs his administration is striving to eliminate through layoffs, retirements and attrition.
Though full details weren’t available, Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, confirmed that this budget — similar to proposals from Malloy and from GOP legislators — probably reduces funding for agency and departmental salary accounts by hundreds of millions of dollars.
These cuts probably require more personnel savings than Malloy will be able to achieve through workforce reduction efforts currently underway.
The administration began serving layoff notices last month, and the governor said he expects about 1,900 to 2,000 workers will have received pink slips by mid-June.
The administration also expects to eliminate roughly 600 more jobs through retirements and attrition.
Bye said the budget also “sends signals” to state employee unions about another key area in which legislators hope to curb spending in the future: health care and retirement benefits.
As Malloy and legislative leaders prepare to jam through a vote on a new state budget, the bottom line appears to be that the Democrats intend to adopt a spending plan that is based on;
Deep cuts to vital services
An unprecedented attack on state employees
No effort to require the wealthy to pay their fair share
And a state budget that continues to rely on the use of one-time revenues and budget gimmicks.
The real question today is not so much whether the Republicans will allow the Democrats to pass a budget, but whether the voters will continue to put up with elected officials who are unwilling or unable to properly deal with the financial and policy challenges that face Connecticut.
To drive that point home, when asked about the rush to vote, Republican Senate Leader Len Fasano responded with what may very well be the quote of the year. Fasano explained;
“Maybe they feel threatened by us. I don’t know. And I understand why they feel threatened. They have screwed up this state so badly, I understand they are very nervous about November. I get that.”
But alas, what makes the entire situation even worse of the people of the Constitution State is that the Republicans have done just as bad a job when it comes to articulating a reasonable alternative to the Democrat’s crash and burn approach to governance.
Thus the best solution may be for the voters of the state to simply throw them all out and start anew.
AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, Malloy, State Budget, State Employees, Teachers, Union Leaders, Unions, Wyman AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Malloy, State Budget, Teachers, Union Leaders, Unions, Wyman
Elected on a claim that he would stave off a “Wisconsin Moment,” Governor Dannel Malloy and his “policy partner” and side-kick Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, have not only ushered in Connecticut’s own anti-public employee, anti-government service and anti-middle class “moment,” but Malloy and Wyman are making it clear that nothing less than a Wisconsin Era.
Malloy is saying that the only budget that will get his signature is a full-fledged austerity budget; a spending plan that destroys vital state services and lays off public employees while coddling the rich and shifting even more of Connecticut’s already unfair and inequitable tax burden onto the back of Connecticut’s middle class.
In his latest diatribe, the ever smug, sanctimonious and thin-skinned bully of a governor has announced that he will veto any spending plan put forward by the General Assembly’s Democratic majority that reverses Malloy’s record-breaking, mean-spirited and draconian cuts to the critically important services that Connecticut residents need and deserve.
Pontificating that Democratic lawmakers won’t consider “enough spending cuts,” Malloy has – yet again – telegraphed that when it comes to the state’s revenue and expenditure plan it is his way or no way. It is a strategy that will require unprecedented state employee layoffs, will reduce the availability of critically important services for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, will mean less funding for Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, and will lead to higher local property taxes for Connecticut’s middle income families.
In addition to harming Connecticut residents, the Malloy-Wyman approach to governance leaves the leadership of Connecticut’s unions with egg on their faces and blood on their hands.
As many will recall, during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, Connecticut’s union leaders were only too proud to hoist Dannel Malloy onto their shoulders with the false claim that Malloy, and Malloy alone, would protect Connecticut from following the dark and devastating tactics being implemented by Wisconsin’s right-wing, Tea Party governor and legislature.
As the media and union representatives reported in June 2014,
Preventing a “Wisconsin moment” from taking place in Connecticut was the prevailing theme of the Connecticut AFL-CIO’s 10th biennial political convention.
A union blog post at the time reported,
“AFSCME President Lee Saunders electrified the more than 300 union delegates to the convention with his keynote address on June 16” roaring, “We can’t afford Connecticut to become another Wisconsin.”
“This election is in our hands. If we turn out the vote of people who share our values, who want to preserve the middle class, who care about quality public services, then we will win.”
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) leadership explained,
We have chosen to support candidates who will act to prevent a ‘Wisconsin moment’ here in Connecticut,”
And the President of the Connecticut AFL-CIO echoed the rhetoric at a press conference to announce labor’s support for Malloy saying,
“In recent weeks we’ve heard candidates talk about Connecticut having a ‘Wisconsin moment.’ Well let me say unequivocally — we are not Wisconsin.”
In response Malloy bragged about his commitment to a Connecticut moment,” explaining that,
“A Connecticut moment is when you stand up for your fellow citizens.”
In the weeks that followed, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was created to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.
Another $160,000 in union member funds was slid into the slush-fund that Malloy’s campaign operatives were using to get around Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.
Now, eighteen months later, Malloy and Wyman are standing up on these issues…
But rather than standing up for the People of Connecticut and doing their right thing, they are standing up, turning their backs and walking away from the very people who elected them.
To better understand the damage being wrought by Malloy, Wyman and their policies, one need only read some of the unsettling commentary pieces that have been published by many of Connecticut’s media outlets. For example,
Connecticut must not balance budget by denying basic medical care
Looming Health Care Crisis Can Be Avoided by Restoring Funds to Community Health Centers
Connecticut position as leader in Children’s Dental Medicaid in jeopardy.
An aging Connecticut needs the Legislative Commission on Aging
Budget cuts threaten Connecticut’s progress in mental health
Governor puts low-income families at risk of losing health coverage
CJTS teachers lament ‘inhumanity’ of sudden staff layoffs
Short-sighted budget cuts undermine CT’s long-term prosperity
CSCU tuition increase no surprise, but is just as wrong
General Assembly, Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes, Wyman Malloy, State Budget, State Deficit, Taxes, Wyman
Today’s CT Newsjunkie headline reads – 2016 Budget Is Back In The Red – $141.1M
In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, [Malloy’s budget chief Ben] Barnes said the state’s revenues have slipped again and the budget is experiencing a $141.1 million shortfall. That’s just three weeks after the General Assembly closed a $220 million budget gap.
The additional $141 million deficit that the Malloy administration is now admitting to comes on top of the $220 million deficit that was announced a couple of months ago, which came on top of the approximately $600 million in deficits that had been previously announced since July 1, 2015.
The appalling truth is that with about 70 days left in the fiscal year, the state budget approved by the Connecticut General and signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy, last spring, was out of balance by over $1 billion.
Should it come as a surprise that the state budget that Malloy signed and deemed to be balanced was actually underfunded?
Last June, on the day the Connecticut General Assembly adopted this year’s state budget, the Wait, What? post read The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget and a few weeks later came an update entitled, CT’s Legislative Democrats set to make a bad budget worse.
Yet, speaking about the glory of the newly adopted state budget, the President of the Connecticut State Senate called it, “one of the best in his 35 years in the general assembly.”
And from Dannel “No New Taxes” Malloy came what may have been the quote of the year as Malloy exclaimed,
“A brighter tomorrow will start with this budget today. This agreement will help Connecticut now and in the long-run — it helps transform our transportation infrastructure as we aim for a best-in-class system. It supports our schools, supports the middle class, and supports vital programs for those who need it most. Most importantly, it helps us build a Connecticut for the long-term, making our state an even greater place to live, work, and raise a family.”
Yet despite those bizarre pronouncements, Malloy and his political operatives continue to pretend that it is Malloy, himself, who is the voice of fiscal responsibility.
Note that along with today’s announcement about the growing deficit, Malloy issued a statement saying;
“The question is no longer whether we’re in a new economic reality, it’s what we’re going to do about it.”
Malloy is actually claiming that he is the one prepared to deal with the “new economic reality” in a responsible manner?
It was only 11 weeks ago when the February 3, 2016 Wait, What? headline reported, Malloy presents a state budget plan that would make hip hop artist B.o.B. proud.
Flanked by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, his “policy-partner,” Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy lectured a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly today about the importance of being fiscally responsible.
It was a grand theatrical performance that would make hip hop artist B.o.B. proud.
Less than two weeks ago, singer and music producer B.o.B informed the world that despite what we have been told, the World is Flat!
Like Governor Dannel Malloy, the “all-knowing” musician laid down the “truth” about the flatness of the Earth explaining;
“No matter how high in elevation you are… the horizon is always eye level … sorry cadets… I didn’t wanna believe it either.”
“A lot of people are turned off by the phrase ‘flat earth’ … but there’s no way u can see all the evidence and not know… grow up.”
“I question the international laws that prevent you from exploring Antarctica and the North Pole… what’s there to hide? …I’m going up against the greatest liars in history … you’ve been tremendously deceived.”
Earlier today, doing his best to channel B.o.B. into the historic chamber of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Governor Malloy took off on a fantastic ride of revisionist history in which he blamed everyone but himself for the fiscal disaster that is dragging Connecticut into the muck.
Malloy’s rhetoric about honest budgeting was only eclipsed in today’s speech by his comments regarding his record when it comes to Connecticut’s long term debt obligations.
Unconstrained by the truth or his own record in dealing with Connecticut’s failure to properly fund its pension and post-employment benefit programs, Malloy pontificated;
“Now, it has fallen upon us to fix it. After decades of neglect, we are finally paying our pension obligations every year. I think we all know that must continue.”
This from a guy who just a few months ago proposed kicking the can so far down the road that we’d shift more than $8 billion in pension liabilities onto the backs of Connecticut’s children and grandchildren.
And lest we forget, it is Malloy who has gone crazy with the state’s credit card, borrowing money to pay for various pet projects including his massive corporate welfare program.
As for his immediate commitment to making even deeper cuts to state programs, Malloy’s approach is probably best reflected by his proposal to cut funding for dental care for poor children and his plan to save $1 million by “reducing the burial benefit for indigent people from$1,400 to $1.000.” That last one was actually something Malloy proposed last year, but legislators reviewed the issue and trashed the plan.
Here is the reality.
What we are witnessing is a “Catastrophic Structural Failure” of leadership and as Connecticut’s fiscal house burns to the ground, Malloy, Wyman and their team continue to function as if the whole situation is nothing more than a political game in which the contest is to see who can come up with the best sounding rhetoric and political soundbites.
To them it may all be a game – a joke – but the damage from their actions is raining down on the people of Connecticut who are suffering and will continue to suffer under state leaders who have completely lost their ability to decipher reality, let alone act on it.
If Malloy’s determination to coddle the rich and deny the fact that additional tax revenue will be needed to ensure a fair, balanced and appropriate state budget, is not challenged and reversed, Connecticut will continue its parachute-less plunge toward destruction.
Budget Cuts, Campaign Finance, Charter Schools, Democratic Governors Association (DGA), Democratic State Central Committee, Malloy, Rowland, State Budget, State Elections Enforcement Commission, State Employees, Taxes, Wyman Budget cuts, Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, DGA, Malloy, State Budget, State Employees, Taxes, Wyman
The wave of state employee layoffs that are taking place in Connecticut is a disturbing reminder about how Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman approach electoral politics.
Having promised their support for public services, public employees and collective bargaining, the two neo-liberal politicians had their hands out during their last campaign to collect literally millions of dollars in donations from public sector employees.
However, once safely ensconced back into office for a second term, the dynamic duo have proposed, promoted and implemented the deepest cuts in state history to public services, a hatchet job that includes a new strategy of laying off significant numbers state employees.
It has been thirteen years since Connecticut has seen a governor laying off large numbers of state employees. That time, disgraced former Governor John Rowland’s disastrous and illegal 2003 purge of state employees ended up costing Connecticut taxpayers about $100 million in back pay and penalties.
As the Hartford Courant reported in January 2016, State Begins Paying $100M Tab For Rowland Layoffs, Including Estimated $15M to Law Firm,
“State officials will spend most of 2016 paying an estimated $100 million tab for last year’s settlement of a long-running federal lawsuit by unions over Gov. John G. Rowland’s 2003 layoff of more than 2,000 state workers. The taxpayer money has already started flowing.”
David Golub, the attorney representing state employee unions and the state employees impacted by that round of layoffs is collecting a tidy $15 million to 17 million in scarce public funds for winning the case.
Now Golub is the lawyer working to help the Connecticut Democratic Party derail an investigation by the Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission into the $6 million plus slush fund that the Democratic Party used to – illegally – (allegedly) – support Malloy and Wyman’s 2014 re-election campaign.
At issue in the Malloy/Democratic Party case is the fact that in addition to collecting their $6.2 million public finance subsidy to pay for their re-election, the Malloy/Wyman political operation knowingly and intentionally coordinated and benefited from the activities of two other political committee accounts, each of which raised millions and millions of dollars.
One entity was created by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and other account, the one that appears to have violated Connecticut law, was run through the Connecticut Democratic Party.
Claiming to be “friends” of unions, public employees and public services, Malloy and Wyman played a role (it seems) in helping to raise money from public employee unions into the coffers of the two extra political committees. Those union funds came directly from the pockets of public employees.
Now, of course, state employees and others who are paid with public funds are learning the true cost of putting their trust in charlatans and deceivers.
Connecticut Forward was the name of the Super-PAC that was set up by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to support Malloy’s 2014 campaign. (Malloy is now Chairman of the Washington D.C. based group.)
As initially reported by Wait, What? in 2014 and then re-examined in an article published less than two months ago and entitled, Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again, Malloy’s political operation and that Super-PAC relied heavily on the generosity of the public employee unions.
When they were running for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman were all smiles as they accepted the political endorsements from Connecticut’s state employee unions and the Connecticut AFL-CIO.
When Malloy and Wyman wanted the unions to fork over money to help pay for their re-election campaign, union leaders stepped up big time.
Using hard-earned money collected from their members, AFSCME dumped $1.2 million into the Super PAC that was set up to support Malloy and Wyman’s effort to spend four more years in office. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) added $600,000 and SEIU donated $550,000 to the same political committee.
During the same period, Malloy and Wyman’s political fortunes were further enhanced thanks to more than $160,000 in union donations to the special account that was set up by the Democratic State Central Committee and used to pay for Malloy’s direct mail program. Those contributions included $10,000 from AFT, $10,000 from NEA, $5,850 from SEIU, $5,000 from AFSCME and $1,800 from CEIU.
Even the Working Families Party got into the act, moving $25,000 in union funds to the Connecticut Forward Super-PAC.
Now, seventeen months later, although Malloy and Wyman knew that difficult times were ahead and chose to remain silent, public services are being destroyed and state employees are being laid off.
And to those who would dismiss the underlying issue by claiming Malloy is simply taking the financial actions that are needed to balance the state budget, one need only remember that another major source of the campaign cash for the Malloy/Wyman re-election effort was the charter school industry and their pro-Common Core, pro-Common Core testing and anti-teacher education reform allies.
In Malloy’s world of “shared sacrifice,” will proposing the deepest cuts in state history to public schools, Malloy has actually proposed adding to the $100 million a year that is already being handed over to the privately owned and operated charter schools, all while he remains committed to forcing Connecticut’s children to suffer under the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC testing scam and then using the results of that flawed testing system to evaluated teachers.
Finally, while Malloy and Wyman make incredible cuts to public services, they remain committed to an agenda of coddling the rich and opposing any reasonable efforts to make the wealthy pay their fair share.
As Malloy and Wyman institute policies that push even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers, Connecticut is already in a situation in which the poor 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, yet the state’s wealthiest only pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.
The legacy is becoming very clear. Cut vital services, layoff public employees, make Connecticut’s regressive tax system even more unfair and continue to make a mockery of the promises and pledges of their 2014 re-election campaign.