Malloy budget targets most vulnerable among us

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As we know, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy promised that he would not propose or accept any tax increase if he was elected to a second term  and then went ahead and proposed over $900 million in revenue “enhancements” in his budget address this week.

Malloy also used his re-election campaign to promise that he would maintain funding for local cities and towns and would not cut vital services.

On budget day, in the same document he proposed flat funding Connecticut’s Education Cost Sharing education funding formula; he cut about $70 million from a variety of important public education programs that assist local schools as they seek to serve some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable children.

And as if all of that wasn’t revolting enough, Malloy reserved his most drastic and draconian cuts for some of the state’s most important social service programs.

In a powerful and MUST READ commentary piece, Sarah Darer Littman lays out the truth about Malloy’s devastating budget plan in her commentary piece at the CTNewsjunkie;

Governor’s Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable (By Sarah Darer Littman)

Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building “systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities,” particularly in light of research showing that “approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18.”

Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the “Children’s Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor’s proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

That’s before we even get to health care and education.

The Sandy Hook report specifically mentioned the importance making it easier for families to obtain mental health services for young people. Yet the budget reduces funding for the Young Adult Services program by $2.7 million (3.3 percent) and reduces funding for school based health centers by $1 million (8.5 percent).

In the Department of Education, the governor plans to eliminate funding for “lower priority or non-statewide programs” by $ 6.2 million. Here we’re talking about programs such as Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); Connecticut PreEngineering Program; Connecticut Writing Project; neighborhood youth centers; Parent Trust; science program for Educational Reform Districts; wrap-around services; Parent Universities; school health coordinator pilot; technical assistance – Regional Cooperation; Bridges to Success; Alternative High School and Adult Reading; and School to Work Opportunities. Not only that,he’s cutting $6.49 million annually for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School components of the Priority School District Grant (i.e. grant program for districts with greatest academic need).

Wrap-around services, longer school days, and enrichment for students, particularly in the more disadvantaged districts, were something Malloy touted when he was selling his education reform package back in 2012. “It’s not as if we don’t know what works,” Malloy said in an article in the New Britain Herald: “wrap-around services, longer school days and longer school years, Saturday enrichment options.”

On top of what Malloy said, there’s over 100 years worth of research on summer learning loss. It disproportionately affects lower-income students whose parents can’t afford to send them to pricey summer camps or other enrichment activities. What’s more, the effects are cumulative, contributing to the achievement gap.

Take the time to read Sarah Darer Littman’s entire commentary piece.

You can find it at: http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_governors_budget_ignores_evidence_hits_vulnerable/

Dan Malloy’s cut to end all cuts – Bring out your dead (or don’t as the case may be)

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Over the day and half since Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy announced his state budget plan, advocacy groups across the political spectrum have begun to weigh in on the unprecedented list of cuts he has proposed to a broad array of programs and services.

In the coming days and weeks Connecticut residents will learn a lot more about the impact of Governor Malloy’s proposed budget and Connecticut’s General Assembly will have to craft a final budget to vote on and return to the Governor for his signature.

But as the author of Wait, What? let me just take moment to make a personal observation…Perhaps I’ve lost all perspective about what it takes to be a civilized society or maybe I really am nothing but a big spending liberal, but for someone who thought they had seen it all, the following proposed cut in Malloy budget exceeds even my cynical sensibilities or expectations of what to expect from Dan “Dannel” Malloy.

If you look deep, deep inside Governor Malloy’s $40 billion proposed budget you’ll find a cut that ends up leaving one asking….

Really?   Is this how Dan Malloy is seeking to fulfill his duty as Connecticut’s highest ranking elected official?

The budget cut purports save $1.7 million next year and another $1.7 million the year after that.

The language describing the budget cut can be found within the budget of the Department of Social Services and its reads as follow,

  • Reduce Burial Benefit Provided Under the State Administered General Assistance Program

By explanation the text adds,

“DSS provides up to $1,800 for funeral and burial expenses of indigent persons who pass away without ability to pay for the cost of a funeral and burial…This proposal reduces the SAGA burial benefit to $1,000, which is more in line with surrounding states.”

My first response can’t or shouldn’t be printed in a publicly accessible blog.

My second was a feeling of bewilderment that Governor Malloy and his budget director, Ben Barnes, would explain away this cut by saying that the reduced burial benefit of $1,000 is “more in line with surrounding states.”  [Wait, What?]

And my third reaction was to take to the Internet only to discover the following;

A cremation service in New Haven advertises that it will take care of the task for $1,275.  But that of course doesn’t include any flowers, a certified copy of the Death Certificate, a “residential death requiring an extra man,” mailing of ashes within the United States, scattering of ashes, pacemaker removal, notice of death to the newspaper or a private one hour viewing, let alone any burial plot or tomb stone.

Another Connecticut company provides a package for $1,495 but that package “does not include a service or an urn.”  Nor does it cover the costs of disposal of the ashes, the burial plot, tomb stone etc.

While another nearby company promotes a basic package for only $975  which includes, “the removal of remains from place of death, transportation to crematory, cremation container, sanitary care of deceased, storage of remains for mandatory 48 hour waiting period or until cremation can take place.  They state that memorial urns are extra and go for $105 and up.  Price does not include burial plot, tomb stone, etc.

And yet another firm, whose cost is well in excess of $1,000, will actually throw in the obituary for free, but explains that, “We will hold the ashes for up to 10 business days for the family to pick up between Monday – Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 up,” but adds that, “after 10 days, there is a holding fee of $85/month or portion thereof.”

Now, it can certainly be said that restraining extravagant government spending is an important and laudable goal but Dan Malloy’s proposal seems more in line with the legendary Ebeneezer Scrooge was once observed,

“If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

Author’s End-note:

I mean really Dan?  A fellow Connecticut citizen falls on hard times an dies and your budget proposal is to cut the allocation for funeral and burial expenses of indigent persons who pass away without ability to pay for the cost of a funeral and burial from $1,800 to $1,000?

All in order to save $1.7 million a year in a two year, $40 billion budget?

This being the 21st Century in the state with the highest per capita income in the United States.

Really?

Read it and Weep – Malloy’s budget – More money for charter schools, less money for public schools

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Governor Malloy took to the “main stage” today to outline his proposed state budget for the next two years.

Hidden inside his $40 billion plan is what may very well be Dan Malloy’s most profound statement of principle since becoming governor of Connecticut.

Although Malloy’s initial budget documents cover up some of the details, it appears that Malloy’s proposed state budget increases public funding for Connecticut’s charter school industry by approximately $37 million over the next two years.  If true, thanks to the governor’s largess and extraordinary loyalty to Connecticut’s charter schools, these privately-run, but publicly-funded corporate entities will be wallowing in an increase in funding that is well in excess of a 33 percent by the second year of this proposed biennial budget.

At the same time, Malloy actually froze Connecticut’s Educational Cost Sharing school funding formula meaning that any inflationary increases and program enhancements that take place in any Connecticut public school will come on the backs of Connecticut’s local property taxpayers.

Without significant increases in local property taxes, most of Connecticut’s public schools will be forced to reduce programs and even lay off teachers during the coming school year.

But as incredible as it is that he failed to provide any additional funding to the state’s school funding formula, is that Malloy went even further and cut record amounts of money from Connecticut’s other educational program…all while showering Connecticut’s charter schools with additional public funds.

In total, Malloy intends to cut nearly $70 million from educational programs that directly impact Connecticut’s public school children.

Malloy’s cuts include the following;

Eliminate Funding for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School Components of the Priority School District Grant – Malloy cuts $6,494,451 for each of the next two years

Eliminate Funding for “Lower Priority” Education Programs – Malloy cuts $6,202,175 for each of the next two years

Eliminate Funding for Healthy Foods Initiative –Malloy cuts $4,806,300 for each of the next two years

Reduce State Funding for Commissioner’s Network Schools – Malloy cuts $4,700,000 for each of the next two years

Eliminate State Funding for Non-Sheff Interdistrict Cooperation Programs –Malloy cuts $4,576,591 for each of the next two years

Limits on Magnet School Expansion and Funding – Malloy cuts $1,926,693 next year and $6,949,043 the following year

Reduce Funding for Youth Service Bureaus and Eliminate Youth Service Bureau Enhancements – Malloy cuts $1,309,568 for each of the next two years

Eliminate Funding for Certain Education Programs – Malloy cuts $1,262,000 for each of the next two years. Particular cuts include certain Adult Education programs, Interdistrict Cooperation programs, after School Programs, summer school pilot programs and the K-3 Reading Assessment Pilot program.

While Malloy’s truly anti-public education budget plan will come as a shock to Connecticut’s parents and taxpayers, it is Connecticut’s public school teachers that must truly be reeling from the news.

Both the American Federation of Teachers and the Connecticut Education Association endorsed Malloy’s re-election campaign and urged teachers to cast their votes for the so-called Democrat.

The Connecticut Education Association leadership actually overturned their own endorsement committee that had previously recommended that the CEA refuse to endorse either gubernatorial candidate, after meeting with both Malloy and Foley.

The American Federation of Teachers went even further.  Not only did the AFT leadership at the national and state level endorse and campaign with Malloy, but the AFT donated more than $600,000 to Malloy’s re-election operation.

 

Dan “Read My Lips” Malloy goes with $900 million plus in new revenue…

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During his campaign for re-election, Governor Dannel Malloy told Connecticut’s voters that there was no state budget deficit this year … [Despite the fact that a sea of nearly $250 million in red ink appeared after Election Day.]

And Malloy’s most consistent and outlandish claim was that he would not propose or accept any new taxes if the citizens of Connecticut re-elected him to a second term.

But in this morning’s exclusive CT Mirror story on the new state budget plan that Governor Malloy will be proposing later today, we learn that the Governor will call for more than $900 million in new revenue over the biennium, of which about $500 million of that amount will come about by repealing pre-election tax breaks that Malloy proposed and signed into law during the past two years.  Malloy is also apparently reneging on the tax cuts he said he would institute if re-elected.

CT Mirror Reports;

“The biennial budget Gov. Dannel P. Malloy intends to propose today would erase a two-year, $2.5 billion shortfall with $1.6 billion in spending cuts and $900 million in additional revenue, an attempt to say he is equitably spreading pain while keeping a pledge not to raise taxes.”

Malloy, a Democrat re-elected last fall, is proposing a three-pronged approach to his second fiscal crisis in four years: deep spending cuts, combined with additional revenue raised by deferring promised tax cuts and boosting tax receipts without changing rates.

[…]

With a proposal that relies on $900 million in new revenue, Malloy can expect a vigorous debate over what constitutes a tax increase. According to administration officials, the budget creates no new taxes, nor does it raise rates, but it generates additional revenue by restricting tax credits, eliminating exemptions and making other tax rule changes.

Malloy campaigned on a pledge not to raise taxes and to deliver more than half a billion dollars in tax cuts over the next two fiscal years.

The governor’s plan bolsters net revenues by more than $900 million over the next two years combined. It does deliver a promised sales tax exemption for over-the-counter medications, worth about $29 million.

More on Malloy’s State Budget as it becomes available later in the day.

Ya know that “no tax pledge” I made during the campaign, well I lied! – Surprise

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So it’s finally official….

During last year’s gubernatorial campaign Governor Dannel “Read My Lips” Malloy repeated over and over again that he would not propose or accept any tax increases if the voters of Connecticut elected him to a second term in office.

[See 5/6/14 Wait, What Posts – Malloy’s “NO TAX” pledge will send Connecticut into the abyss or 9/3/14 Foley and Malloy are just plain wrong on taxes]

Of course, with the state of Connecticut facing a significant and growing budget deficit this year and a projected shortfall of at least $1.3 billion in next year’s state budget, the claim was never anything other than a hoax.

But hoax or not, Malloy not only stuck to his “no-tax” campaign promise but claimed that there wasn’t even a state budget deficit this year nor would there be a state budget deficit next year.

Well yesterday, the luster surrounding his absurd “no tax” pledge came off as Malloy confirmed that in his state budget address tomorrow he would be proposing to repeal the state law that eliminates the sales tax exemption on clothing costing less than $50, a law that he signed last spring and was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2015.

Malloy told reporters, “There is a reality (that) this is a tough budget.  No one is sugar coating that.”

According to media reports, Malloy is still insisting that he is not raising taxes – although in the real world – if you propose a bill that requires Connecticut consumers to pay a 6.35 percent sales tax rate on clothing costing less than $50 — when they would not have done so without that proposal – it is called raising taxes.

But Malloy’s retort is that although consumers will actually have to pay the sales tax on clothing – starting July 1, 2015 – when they would not have otherwise been required to do so – the sales tax rate will drop from 6.35 percent to 6.20 percent on Nov. 1 2015 and will drop again to 5.95 percent on April of 2017, more than two years from now.

According to Keith Phaneuf at the CT Mirror,

“The governor tried to emphasize Monday that his focus on tax relief right now, given the limited resources available to him, “has to be middle-class-centric.”

But last May, when nonpartisan analysts were projecting the same post-election fiscal woes that they are reporting now, the governor was adamant that no taxes would rise after the election.

“I gave at the office,” he quipped, implying that the $1.8 billion in tax hikes he signed to close a big deficit in 2011 were sufficient.

As Phaneuf observes in his latest article, what’s changed?

“Since next year’s projected deficit – $1.3 billion – is the same as it was when Malloy took his no-tax-hike pledge…”

What has changed?

Well, Malloy got himself re-elected and now reality is starting to set in for the Governor and the people of Connecticut..

You can read more at; http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/16/malloy-coy-on-whether-his-plans-add-up-to-a-tax-increase/

Parents, Teachers and Taxpayers – Beware the Achievement First Inc. Money Grab in New Haven

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[This is the first in a series of articles about Achievement First Inc.’s proposed New Haven Elm City Imagine School]

Aka – The Charter School Industry’s step by step dismantling of public education in Connecticut.

This Wednesday, February 18, 2015, Governor Malloy will play his hand as to whether he will insert taxpayer funds into next year’s state budget in order to fund Steve Perry’s dream of opening a privately-owned, but publicly-funded charter school in Bridgeport.  An out-of-state company is also counting on Malloy to come through with the cash needed to expand their charter school chain into Stamford, Connecticut.

Both charter school applications were vehemently opposed by the Bridgeport and Stamford Boards of Education.

However, despite that opposition from the local officials responsible for education policy and despite the fact that Connecticut doesn’t even fund its existing public schools adequately and the fact that the State of Connecticut is facing a massive $1.4 billion projected budget deficit next year, Governor Malloy’s former Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, and Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education approved four new charter school proposals last spring.

Initial funding for two of the four applications was included in this year’s state budget, New Haven’s Booker T. Washington charter school and yet another charter school for Bridgeport.

Now the charter school industry is counting on Malloy to divert even more scarce public funds away from the state’s public schools so that Steve Perry can start pulling in a $2.5 million management fee from a charter school in Bridgeport and the out-of-state company can open up a revenue stream from a new charter school in Stamford.

While most public education advocates are focused on the Malloy administration’s ongoing attempt to privatize public education via policies at the state level, the politically connected Achievement First Inc. Charter School chain is using a completely different approach as it seeks to pull off a deal in New Haven that would shift existing funds away from New Haven’s public schools and into the coffers of the Achievement First operation.

Of course, Achievement First Inc. is the charter school chain founded by Stefan Pryor, Malloy’s former commissioner of education.

Achievement First Inc. is also the charter school chain that gets the lion’s share of the $100 million in public funds that are already diverted to charter schools in Connecticut.

Achievement First’s latest gambit is called the Elm City Imagine School.  Achievement First already owns and operates the following taxpayer-funded New Haven Charter Schools;

Amistad Academy Elementary School

Amistad Academy Middle School

Amistad Academy High School

Elm City College Preparatory Elementary School

Elm City College Preparatory Middle School

Achievement First Inc. also owns charter schools in Hartford, New Haven, New York City and Rhode Island.

With the New Haven proposal, Achievement First, Inc. is attempting to side-step the entire state charter school authorization process.  They are trying to use a mechanism whereby state and local taxpayer funds would be allocated by the New Haven Board of Education directly to Achievement First’s new “experimental school.”

The only hurdle that Achievement First Inc. needs to overcome is getting the approval of the New Haven Board of Education…and it appears that they are well on the way to do just that as early as their February 23, 2015 meeting.

The New Haven Board has scheduled a second and final public hearing on the proposal tomorrow, Tuesday 2/17 at 5:30, nicely timed to take place during school vacation.

The New Haven Board of Education is not democratically elected by the citizens of New Haven.  It is one of the only boards of education in Connecticut to be appointed by the mayor of the community.

In this case, the New Haven Board of Education is appointed by Mayor Toni Harp – who, thanks to an earlier sweetheart deal – happens to sit on the Achievement First Inc. Board of Directors for the Amistad Academy schools.

Another member of the New Haven Board of Education is Alex Johnston who is the former CEO of ConnCAN.  Johnston now, “develops and implements strategies for philanthropists on education reform advocacy and political initiatives.”

ConnCAN is the charter school advocacy group that is not only associated with Achievement First Inc. but it is the entity that led the record-breaking $6 million dollar lobbying campaign in support of Malloy’s 2012 Corporate Education Reform Initiative.

ConnCAN is also the charter school advocacy group that recently held a rally on the New Haven Green to “save kids trapped in local failing public schools.

And ConnCAN is the charter school advocacy group that was created by Jonathan Sackler, who is the multi-millionaire who played such a pivotal role in helping Stefan Pryor with the creation of Achievement First Inc.

Sackler now serves on the Board of Directors for Achievement First Inc.  and the Board of Directors for ConnCAN

Most recently, Sackler and his family were the largest contributors to Malloy’s re-election effort, pumping well over $100,000 into the various committees that paid for the Governor’s campaign activities.

Achievement First’s Elm City Imagine

Achievement First’s Elm City Imagine (designed to become a K-4 school) will be Achievement First Inc.’s initial foray into the “Greenfield” model. The model designed with the help of the inventor of the computer mouse.”

Achievement First Inc. is also using public funds to insert the “Greenfield Model” into its Elm City College Prep Middle School.

Among the many controversies associated with this new proposal is that Achievement First Inc. has successfully prevented the unionization of its schools and is now looking to use even more public funds to hire employees who would have no collective bargaining rights.

Achievement First Inc. is also notorious for relying on Teach For America recruits in an effort to promote the churning of staff to keep expenses down and limit the likelihood of unionization.

Alex Johnston, the former ConnCAN CEO who and member of the New Haven Board of Education is quoted as saying

“We need statewide policies that allow educational innovations like Teach for America or Dacia’s schools [The Achievement First Inc. Charter School chain] to spread far and wide.”

[Article Update at 3pm 2/16/15 – Johnston has announced the due to the conflict of interest he will not be voting on application, although it doesn’t change much considering the political dynamics surrounding the project.]

Of course, Achievement First Inc. also made national news when it was reported that their “zero-tolerance” discipline policies led to an extraordinary number of kindergartners being suspended.

Check back for the next installment of this series.

You can also read more about the Achievement First Inc. plan via the following New Haven Independent articles;

Teachers, Parents Organize Against Charter Deal

The School Of The Future Gets A Dry Run
Teachers Union Prez Pens “Imagine” Critique
Charter Plans Detailed; Parents Weigh In
Elm City Imagine Sparks Debate
NHPS, AF Team Up On Experimental School
Elm City Charter Eyed For Futuristic “Conversion”
City’s Charter Network Hires San Francisco Firm To Design The K-8 Public School Of The Future

 

News Flash: Malloy reneges on sales clothing exemption commitment to pay for tiny cut in sales tax

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Updated – see new CT Mirror story

A Wait, What? moment if there every was one…

Nine months ago, Governor Malloy signed a bill into law that exempting clothing costing less than $50 from the state sales tax starting on July 1, 2015.  Throughout his recent campaign for re-election he promised over and over again that the his tax cuts would remain in law despite Connecticut’s budget deficits.

But today, everything changed…. And just wait till you see how he is trying to cover up his action…

Today Governor Malloy took to WFSB-TV’s Face The State to announce that later this week, when he presents his budget plan to a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly on how to solve next year’s projected $1.4 billion budget deficit, he will be proposing a reduction in Connecticut’s sales tax from its current rate of 6.35 percent to 6.20 percent starting on November 1, 2015 (a quarter way through the coming fiscal year) and then to 5.95 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Without ever telling WFSB Face the State host Dennis House how the sales tax cut would actually be paid for, Malloy had the gall to proclaim, “I think it’s a way to give some relief to the middle class as the economy keeps improving.”

What Malloy failed to explain was the he is “finding the money” for this minor cut by reneging on the cloth tax exemption that is already in law and scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2015.

So let’s all understand just what Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing.

Malloy is saying he will make a microscopic cut in the sales taxes while at the same time repealing a law that he signed that eliminates the sales tax on clothing and he saying that his proposal is designed to “give some relief to the middle class”

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf was the only news outlet to figure out Malloy’s incredible bait and switch tactic noting that the,

“[Clothing Tax Break] scheduled to start this July under legislation Malloy signed last May – would save consumers $145 million next year,” while “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he will propose lowering Connecticut’s sales tax rate this week, while eliminating a partial exemption on clothing to produce a net tax revenue increase of $68 million in the next fiscal year.”

To reiterate, Malloy told TV viewers that he was LOWERING the sales tax rate to levels not seen since 1971, but the way he is doing it by reneging on a promise – that he signed into law – that would have provided for a $50 sales tax exemption on clothing – a change that was supposed to take place in less than five months.

According to Phaneuf,

“Mark Bergman, his spokesman, released limited revenue numbers after the broadcast and confirmed that the primary change would be the elimination of a partial sales tax exemption on clothing.”

Bergman said the governor’s proposed changes would yield a net sales tax revenue increase of $68….”

You can read more of the ugly details at http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/15/malloy-would-cut-sales-tax-rate-but-broaden-its-reach/

Updated CT Mirror story - http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/15/malloy-would-cut-sales-tax-rate-but-broaden-its-reach/

Yippee – No New Taxes and you’ll be able to buy “cheaper” liquor for longer hours

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As we like to say here at Wait, Wait? You better sit down for this one,

Although the State of Connecticut is facing a projected $1.4 billion state deficit next year, Governor Dannel Malloy’s most significant campaign promise was that he would neither propose or accept any tax increase should the voters of Connecticut elect him to a second term.

In a made for media moment, Malloy went on a major morning radio show this morning to announce that rather than raise taxes, he would be proposing that Connecticut liquor stores be allowed to stay open on Mondays – Saturdays until 10 p.m and all the way until 8 p.m. on Sundays.

The hosts dutifully toasted the Governor’s proposal with tequila.

Malloy’s plan, according to WFSB TV News, will “lower the price of alcohol in the state and raise additional tax revenue for the state.”

Lower prices and more revenue without raising taxes….Hooray!

In what one supposes is a parallel proposal to promote more competition or create an incentive for more Corporate Hedge Funds to invest their money in liquor stores, Malloy also announced that he will also be proposing legislation that would allow liquor store owners to own up to six stores, rather than being capped at the existing number of three.

For those who are scratching their heads about how longer hours and more stores selling liquor will lower prices when the state mandates minimum per bottle pricing for all  types of alcohol in Connecticut, the Malloy administration explains that the Governor will also propose revising, but not repealing, Connecticut minimum liquor pricing policies.

According to the CT Mirror, “He says he would maintain minimum bottle pricing, but allow steeper discounts than are now allowed by law, namely by letting retailers charge consumers as little as the wholesale price.”

Considering governors normally release what they consider to be juicy tidbits in the week leading up to their budget proposal, Malloy’s announcement today really builds up the level of excitement for next week when he will propose his complete budget package to a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly on February 18, 2015.

You can read more about this breaking news at the Courant via His Budget Might Induce Drink, But Malloy Wants Lower Liquor Prices and  CT Mirror at  His budget might induce drink, but Malloy wants lower prices

Malloy, Budget Deficits and the failure to follow State Law

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In the real world, a budget deficit occurs when a government’s expenditures exceed the revenue that it generates.

According to Connecticut state law, if the State Comptroller projects that the budget deficit exceeds 1 percent of the state budget ($174.6 million), the Governor MUST immediately develop a Budget Mitigation Plan and submit it to the Connecticut General Assembly for review and approval.

As Wait, What? readers will recall the one true constant during the 2014 gubernatorial campaign was Governor Dannel Malloy’s claim that there was no state budget deficit this year, nor would there be one.  Period, end of story.

State law also requires the Office of Policy and Management to provide the State Comptroller, on the 20th of each month, a letter outlining any projected revenue shortfalls or areas where the executive branch is spending more than what was budgeted for a given line-item or program.

During the entire campaign, Malloy repeatedly said that there was no state budget deficit and ten days before Election Day, Malloy’s Budget Director, Ben Barnes, made the incredulous claim that the Malloy administration was not overspending on a single line- item or program.  Barnes reiterated that the State of Connecticut did not have, nor would it have a budget deficit.

At the time, a CT Mirror story written by Connecticut’s leading budget reporter, Keith Phaneuf, led with the headline, “Malloy boldly projects perfection in last budget update before election.”

As Phaneuf reported at the time,

It’s came as no surprise this week when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration reported the state budget was in balance.

What was far more surprising, though, was the added assertion there are no signs of cost overruns in any of the dozens of agencies supported by this year’s $19 billion budget.

For the first time in at least nine years, an administration reported no “deficiencies” that need to be tracked thus far into the fiscal year – a claim that Malloy’s critics attacked as extreme political spin in the final days of the campaign.

Within days, Connecticut’s independent, non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis identified a series of areas where the state was overspending, but with the Democrat’s Get-Out-The-Vote operation already underway, the Malloy administration dismissed the information and continued to claim that there was no state budget deficit.

Then, just ten days after Election Day, the state deficit “began to appear.”

However, the Malloy administration continued to downplay the situation in an effort to persuade the State Comptroller to say that the projected state deficit did not exceed the 1 percent trigger, which would have required Governor Malloy to develop and submit a comprehensive Deficit Mitigation Plan.

Now, ninety days after Election Day, the information provided by the independent, non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis reveals that the real State Budget deficit was more than $225 million, well in excess of the $174.6 million Deficit Mitigation Level.

And yet Governor Malloy and his administration never submitted a Deficit Mitigation Plan because the State Comptroller never determined that the trigger level had been met.

The scheme allowed the Malloy administration to continue their ongoing effort to mislead the General Assembly, the citizens of Connecticut and the media.

How did this happen?

Over the last three months, the Office of Policy and Management submitted their legally required letter to the State Comptroller on the state of Connecticut’s financial situation, but each month the Malloy administration provided misleading or false information.

Despite reports issued on November 20, 2014, December 20, 2014 and January 20, 2015, Malloy’s budget directer refused to come clean and properly identify where spending had exceeded budgeted levels.

And this week, the fiscal and political situation surrounding Connecticut’s growing budget crisis went from bad to worse.

In an article this past Monday entitled, Lembo backs Malloy’s assessment of smaller CT deficit, the CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf reported;

State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo gave Gov. Dannel P. Malloy a big vote of fiscal confidence Monday, agreeing that Connecticut’s budget deficit is well below the emergency level.

The $89.4 million shortfall Lembo reported not only represents roughly half the amount that would compel Malloy to issue a deficit-mitigation plan, but also falls at least $80 million below the deficit projection of the legislature’s nonpartisan analysts.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo based his decision on the belief that the Malloy administration could achieve the full savings from the first two rounds of emergency recessions (budget cuts) that had already been announced, but as Phaneuf noted in his article, the Malloy administration’s track record on actually achieving savings during the appropriate fiscal year is dismal.

Of even greater concern is the fact that the Malloy administration is still failing to admit that there are key budget areas where the state is dramatically overspending the amount that was actually budgeted for those activities.

As Phaneuf fully explains in his piece,

“the prospect of a deficit-mitigation plan loomed larger one week ago when the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis pegged this year’s shortfall much larger, at $202.5 million.

Even after applying the full effects of the governor’s emergency cuts, the deficit – according to OFA – would have stood at just under $171 million.”

But Governor Malloy was, once again, allowed to duck his legal responsibility to develop a Deficit Mitigation Plan for Connecticut when the State Comptroller decided to accept the Malloy administration’s inaccurate reports about overspending, while disregarding the Office of Fiscal Analysis’ observation that Malloy would not be able to achieve all of the savings that he claimed from the first two rounds of emergency cuts.

In particular, as Phaneuf noted, “According to nonpartisan analysts, cost-overruns involving Medicaid and magnet schools are worse than the administration estimates. And a potential surplus in the debt service account is not as large as Malloy’s staff projects.”

Although Lembo’s latest action saves Malloy from having to develop a comprehensive Deficit Mitigation Plan, Lembo used his most recent report to observe that, “No one should see this as an all-clear sign…We need to continue to watch spending, to continue to watch revenue as it comes in.”

However, those remarks were hardly enough to keep Republican legislators from charging that the Democrats had circled the wagons in order to protect Malloy’s political strategy of refusing to tell the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal problems.

In a follow up story in yesterday’s CT Mirror entitled, “GOP says Lembo ignored deficit to shield Malloy,” Keith Phaneuf reported that,

“Republican legislators were surprised Monday when Lembo not only accepted the administration’s $121 million deficit projection, but also assumed the $31.6 million in emergency cuts would involve no duplication.

Lembo, who reported a deficit projection of $89.4 million, did not reject the concerns raised by legislative analysts, but noted that the administration has a strong track record of meeting savings targets built into past budgets.

But legislative analysts, who finished their review of the governor’s latest cuts, concluded they only effectively saved the state about $20 million.

More importantly, OFA said the deficit actually stands at $182.3 million. That’s $7.7 million above the level that triggers a formal gubernatorial plan to balance the books, and $92 million worse than Lembo’s estimate.”

While Malloy, Lembo and the Republicans spar over the particular numbers, one thing is absolutely clear.

In the days leading up to Election Day, Governor Malloy and his budget director consistently claimed that there was not budget deficit, that there would be no budget deficit and that the Malloy administration was not overspending on a single line-item in a nearly $18 billion General Fund Budget.

Three months later, we now know that they knew, or should have known, that the real state budget deficit had exceeded $225 million and Connecticut’s state government was careening toward a budget deficit of more than a quarter of a billion dollars….

Along with a projected budget deficit for next year in excess of $1.4 billion.

And despite this undeniable truth, Governor Malloy managed to duck his legal obligation to provide the Connecticut General Assembly and the people of Connecticut with a comprehensive Deficit Mitigation plan.

For more background on these latest issues go to Keith Phaneuf’s most recent articles at Lembo backs Malloy’s assessment of smaller CT deficit and GOP says Lembo ignored deficit to shield Malloy

In the news again – Steve Perry’s point man in Bridgeport – The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.

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The Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. is running for the Connecticut State Senate in a special election to be held on February 24 2015.  Moales is one of three candidates seeking to fill the open seat in Bridgeport.

Not only is Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr. the notorious ally of Governor Dannel Malloy and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, but Moales is the leading member of the “Governing Council” of Steve Perry’s proposed Harbor Prep Capital Charter School, the charter school that Malloy’s Commissioner of Education and political appointees on the State Board of Education jammed through despite the fact that there is no funding in the state budget for Perry’s growing aspirations to  open a “boutique” Charter School Management Company.

Kenneth Moales Jr. was also a leading force on the illegal State Oversight Board that was appointed by the Malloy administration when the State of Connecticut illegally took over the Bridgeport School System.

Following the Connecticut Supreme Court’s decision to restore the rule of law and the notion of democracy by returning Bridgeport’s Schools to an elected Board, Moales got onto the new elected Board of Education thanks to the help of Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.  [Moales had served as Finch’s campaign treasurer in his run for mayor].

As a member of the elected Board, including a stint has its chairman; Moales continued to serve as Education Reform Guru Paul Vallas’ biggest cheerleader.

Moales also used his time on the Board to garner a $1 million, no-competitive bid contact, to expand his family’s state-funded daycare centers – daycare centers that rent space from the very church that Moales owns and operates.

The list of three day care centers included one – the largest – that was housed in a building that never had a certificate of occupancy or even met fire code.

The very same church that owns Moales’ house, and at last check, his Cadillac Escalade and a couple of Mercedes Benz sedans…

The very same church that has been facing foreclosure proceedings for over a year…

And now it turns out that Moales hasn’t even being paying his property taxes to the City of Bridgeport going all the way back to 2007.

The latest chapter in this charade comes via a breaking story on the “Only in Bridgeport” Blog entitled, “Moales’ Day Care Facility Owes $10,000 in Back Taxes, Joins DeJesus For Arrearage Battle,”

As the Only in Bridgeport Blog reports,

The campaign of State Senate candidate Ken Moales says they welcome the support of political activists turned off by the $140,000 that Democratic-endorsed Richard DeJesus owes in personal property taxes on businesses, as well as his child support issues. Kingdom’s Little Ones Daycare for which Moales serves as chief executive officer owes $10,000 in personal property taxes going back to 2007, according to city tax records.

[…]

Moales, a member of the school board, has been a lightning rod in city politics in recent years, particularly when he served as head of the Board of Education. He served as Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer for Finch’s first two runs for mayor. But then tax and foreclosure issues about Moales surfaced. He no longer serves as Finch’s campaign treasurer as the mayor seeks a third four-year term this year.

City tax records show past-due personal property taxes for Kingdom’s Little Ones Daycare going back to 2007 and rising.

For more go to: http://onlyinbridgeport.com/wordpress/moales-day-care-facility-owes-10000-in-back-taxes-joins-dejesus-for-arrearage-battle/#more-68595

For lots, lots more on Moales and his inappropriate, often illegal antics, just search his name here on the Wait, What? Blog.

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