A possible solution for Connecticut’s budget crisis – “Throw the bums out…”

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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.

Malloy and Wyman seek to turn their “Wisconsin Moment” into a Wisconsin Era

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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.”

Saunders added,

“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

Hey Connecticut – Nothing to worry about as the ‘Catastrophic Structural Failure’ crisis grows

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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?

Hardly….

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.”

Wait, What?

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.

Malloy and Wyman collect public employee political donations – then stab state employees in the back – go figure.

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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.

Legislators – Make Malloy veto the only fair, honest and effective way to balance the State Budget.

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After ordering massive budget cuts to a variety of programs that provide critically needed support for some of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens and making record breaking cuts to Connecticut’s public schools and colleges, this year’s Connecticut State Budget is still $220 million in deficit.

Although Governor Dannel Malloy claimed that the State Budget he signed into law last summer was balanced and that he had succeeded in putting Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, in truth, that budget missed the mark by nearly $1 billion dollars.

Over the last few month Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly have instituted deep and sweeping cuts that undermine some of Connecticut’s most vital social, health and education programs and services.

To make matters worse, Malloy is now withholding funds that Connecticut’s hospitals and non-profit providers of community services need to ensure that hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents get the essential services they need.

With things getting worse by the day, Democratic leaders in the Connecticut legislature are now saying that they are poised to make even deeper cuts to programs as they flail around in an effort to balance the budget.

See:  Legislative Leaders, Malloy Continue Negotiations Over 2016 Budget Deficit (CT Newsjunkie), Senate Democratic leaders confident deficit-mitigation cuts will pass (CT Mirror), Legislature To Vote Tuesday In Attempt To Close Budget Deficit (Courant)

But there is a simple, honest and effective way for legislators to balance this year’s state budget and it is a solution that will allow them to restore some of the funding for the most important state programs and services.

However, Governor Malloy doesn’t like the idea so Democratic legislators are simply pretending that the best solution for the people of Connecticut doesn’t even exist.

It is time for Connecticut legislators to dismiss Malloy’s bullying.  He is a governor, not a king!  Their duty is to their constituents, not to the power hungry governor.

The best, most honest and most effective solution is for the members of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives to do the right thing and pass a budget deficit mitigation package that requires the super wealthy to pay their fair share.

If Governor Malloy’s decides that his priority is to coddle the rich while the rest of Connecticut suffers, let him veto the bill and face the political consequences.

The solution is extremely simple.

As the non-partisan research group Connecticut Voices for Children have reported;

  • Connecticut’s poor families pay about 12.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • Connecticut’s middle income families pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes
  • And Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay about 5.5 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

As a direct result of Governor Malloy’s ongoing effort to protect the rich, Connecticut’s wealthy pay FAR less than they would if they lived in Massachusetts, New York or New Jersey..

The harsh, but unspoken, reality is that Connecticut’s middle class and working families are subsidizing Connecticut’s wealthy.

It is a policy that is unfair and needs to stop.

Connecticut’s public officials can eliminate the budget deficit by simply making Connecticut’s tax system fairer.

Depending on how it is actually structured, increasing the tax rates on wealthy resident’s capital gains or personal income would result in $250 million to $400 million in additional state revenue this year.

Instead of cutting vital programs and shifting even more of the burden onto local property tax payers, Connecticut elected officials should dismiss Malloy’s rhetoric and adopt a budget solution that is fair, honest and effective.

The question is, will elected officials do the right thing for their constituents or join Malloy by aligning themselves with the state’s wealthy.

 

Wealthy state is failing our poorest kids (By Wendy Lecker)

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Background:  Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the country, as measured by per capita income.  If it was its own country, it would be one of the ten wealthiest countries in the world.

Connecticut’s most important natural resource is its people and their educational attainment.  According to US Census data, Connecticut is ranked 4th in the percentage of college graduates, 3rd in the percentage of citizens with advanced degrees and nearly 9 in 10 have a high school education, although faced with the impact of growing poverty, the number of high school graduates is dropping and without adequate funding for public schools and a well educated population, Connecticut’s economic future will be grim.

Meanwhile, as a result of Governor Dannel Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman’s irresponsible fiscal policies, Connecticut State Government has been plunged into fiscal chaos.  Today, Connecticut’s wealthiest pay about 5 percent of their income in state and local taxes, middle class and working families pay about 10 percent of their income in state and local taxes, while the poor pay about 12 percent.

Based on fiscal and education policies that coddle the rich while diverting more than $100 million a year to privately owned and operated charter schools, Malloy and Wyman have now proposed the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools.  Extraordinary budget deficits already exist in Hartford, Bridgeport and other communities.

Thanks to Malloy, Wyman and the General Assembly, most school districts will now be forced to raise local taxes and make deep cuts to existing education programs in local public schools.

As the state’s leading politicians attempt to hide the truth, public education advocate and fellow columnist Wendy Lecker has written another “MUST READ” column.

Her commentary piece, entitled, Wealthy state is failing our poorest kids first appeared in the Stamford Advocate and other Hearst Media papers this past weekend

Wealthy state is failing our poorest kids (By Wendy Lecker)

Hartford parents, teachers and students came out in full force to last week’s Board of Education meeting to protest devastating school cuts. Owing to budget shortfalls, the district is cutting guidance counselors, intervention specialists, and other critical staff, art, sports, enrichment, SAT prep, textbooks, summer school, tutors and more. Many of Hartford high schools will be left with one counselor for 350-400 students. As one parent said, they are cutting the support Hartford students need; and the subjects that motivate them to come to school.

Hartford schools already suffer severe resource deficiencies. One high school has no library or computer lab. Another has no copier in the library, and no curricular material for certain classes. The culinary academy has no money to buy food for cooking class. The nursing academy cannot offer physics, though physics is a prerequisite for any nursing school. One high school is so overrun with rodents a teacher came in one morning to find five mice in traps she laid the night before. Teachers are forced to find vendors themselves and fill out orders in vain attempts to obtain supplies that never arrive. So they buy them out of their own pockets.

The conditions in which these students have to learn, and these teachers have to teach, is shameful — especially in Connecticut, a state consistently in the top five on the list of wealthiest states in America.

Hartford is not the only Connecticut school district suffering. According to a supplement to this year’s “Is School Funding Fair: A National Report Card,” issued by the Education Law Center (my employer) and Rutgers, Connecticut is the only state consistently among the five wealthiest states to have districts on the list of America’s “most financially disadvantaged school districts.” This year, two districts are featured on this list: Bridgeport and Danbury.

Since this list has been compiled, starting in 2012, Connecticut districts have been featured every year. Connecticut also has the dishonorable distinction of being the only wealthy state featured on the list of states whose funding system disadvantages the highest share of low income students; as measured by the percent of statewide enrollment concentrated in those most disadvantaged districts.

The National Report Card revealed some other disturbing facts about Connecticut’s lack of commitment to its public schools, especially those serving our neediest children.

As one of the wealthiest states, Connecticut does a poor job of maintaining competitive wages for teachers — a key ingredient to recruiting and retaining a strong teaching force. Connecticut teachers starting out earn 79 percent of the average salary of similar non-teaching professions. The report compares teachers with other professionals in the same labor market of similar age, degree level and hours worked. At age 45, that average drops to 73 percent of similar non-teaching professions.

An important measure of school funding fairness is the student-teacher ratio. High-poverty schools require more staff to address the challenges faced by their students. Small classes, reading and math specialists and support services are particularly necessary, for example. However, Connecticut is one of the few states with higher student-teacher ratios in poorer districts as compared to their wealthy districts. In fact, Connecticut is 46th out of 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in student-teacher ratio fairness.

High-quality pre-K is a vital component of education; reducing placement in special education and improving academic and life outcomes. Sixty-two percent of Connecticut’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K, but only 48 percent of Connecticut’s poor children are. That disparity lands Connecticut in 45th place out of 51.

The deprivation of essential resources in Connecticut’s poorest districts is the crux of the CCJEF case, now on trial in Hartford. The plaintiffs seek adequate funding for basic educational necessities.

They are on solid ground. A new longitudinal study out of Berkeley demonstrates that school finance reform makes a real difference for students. The study, based on nationwide data, found that school finance reforms lead to substantial increases in revenues in low-income school districts, and to increases in student achievement. This study confirms a 2014 national study from Northwestern showing improvement in achievement, especially for poor students, when school funding increases. Earlier state-specific studies found similar results.

The evidence is clear. Connecticut schools need more resources, and school finance reform is the answer.

However, this year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made the deepest cuts to education in Connecticut history, while diverting more than $100 million dollars to privately run charter schools.

It is time for our elected officials in this, one of America’s wealthiest states, to start doing right by our poorest children.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s piece at:  http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Wendy-Lecker-Wealthy-state-failing-poorest-our-6924830.php

As Malloy calls for record cuts to minority teacher programs – Robert Cotto Jr. asks – Where did Black & Latin teachers in Hartford go?

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Governor Dannel Malloy, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and their administration are proposing record budget cuts to Connecticut’s Minority Teacher Incentive Program, as well as, to the state’s institutions of higher education – which include Connecticut’s teacher preparation programs.

As Connecticut faces the need for additional talented, dedicated and prepared public school teachers, Malloy and his advisers are cutting vital teacher training programs while promoting the use of inexperienced, unprepared and transient Teacher For America recruits.

Meanwhile, Robert Cotto, Jr, the Director of Urban Educational Initiatives at Trinity College and a Lecturer in the Educational Studies department highlights the very real problem facing Connecticut’s school districts as he investigates the disturbing failure to recruit and retain Latino and African-American teachers in Hartford.

In Where did Black & Latin@ teachers in Hartford go?, Robert Cotto Jr. writes;

Several months ago, former Hartford school board member Dr. Shelley Best posted a photo of herself with a handful of white teachers and an administrator in the background. Dr. Best, a Black woman, took the “selfie” photo at a district workshop about the “achievement gap”. In the caption of her Facebook post with the photo, she commented, “In a room full of folks talking about us (and the educational achievement gap) that don’t look like us … hmmmm …”

The Hartford Courant wrote a story months after the event and focused on one of the white teacher’s hurt feelings about being captured in the photo frame and Dr. Best’s protest. This led to a brief, but intense, flurry of essays about teacher diversitywhite folks missing the pointpersonal defenses, and a reprimand of Dr. Best. Looking at some basic staffing data, an important question adds to Dr. Best’s concern – where did the Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford go?

When Dr. Shelley Best wondered where all the Black educators were during the workshop several months ago, she was on to something troubling. The Hartford Public Schools has steadily lost Black and Latino/a teachers over the last decade, while adding white teachers during the same period.

cotto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: CT State Department of Education, 2015

Public staffing data provided by the State Department of Education (CEDAR) shows that the Hartford Public Schools lost a substantial percentage and number of Black and Latino/a teachers from 2004-12. In 2004-05, 15% of all Hartford teachers were Latino/a and 15% were Black. In 2012-13, roughly 10% of all Hartford teachers were Latino/a and 10% Black. In other words, a net total of 155 Black and Latino teachers disappeared from HPS, while the district added 95 new white teachers. As a result, the proportion of white teachers in the whole district rose from 68% to 77% from 2004-12.

With this limited information, it’s not entirely clear why HPS has lost so many Black and Latino/a teachers. The state’s public staffing data does not tell us about the on-the-ground factors that might “push” and “pull” teachers of color into and out of the profession (Irizarry & Donaldson, 2012). The public staffing data doesn’t reveal whether these Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford experienced layoffs, were pushed out/fired, retired, found other more lucrative or fulfilling work, or were promoted to other positions in Hartford or elsewhere.

In the case of the Hartford area schools during this period (2004-12), there were also unusual policies and factors that could have led to this steep disappearance of teachers of color. These unusual events and policies included the great recession, expanded public school choice programs in the Hartford region, and assorted neoliberal education reforms. These factors could have impacted the entry and exit of Black and Latino/a teachers from the Hartford Public Schools.

The great recession, caused by the near collapse of the banking industry, resulted in teacher layoffs/reductions in force through the capitol region. These school districts in the capitol region included 35 town-operated school districts around the City of Hartford, which is associated with the Hartford Public Schools. The largest declines in the number of teachers of all racial/ethnic groups in these districts happened from 2008-09 to 2009-10 and from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

Interestingly, the capitol region school districts never rebounded in terms of adding back lost teachers (from 2004-12), but Hartford did rebound and in a very different way. After the banking collapse, HPS added white teachers even as it continued to lose Black and Latino/a teachers. On the other hand, the other 35 capitol region districts added a smaller number of Black and Latino/a teachers (mostly the latter) even while continuing to decline in overall, particularly in the number of white teachers after the great recession. Despite adding a small number of Black and Latino/a teachers; the 35 capitol region districts’ percentage of Black and Latino/a teachers remained level from 2004-12. (See chart at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2016/02/23/where-did-all-the-black-and-latinoa-teachers-in-hartford-go/)

As the enrollment of students in public school choice programs has increased, so has the number of teachers working in interdistrict magnet and charter schools. (See chart below) This rapid growth is one clear result of State policy increasing funds and policy supports for public school choice programs that are operated by separate, non-traditional school districts such as CREC and charter districts. In the case of magnet schools, the growth has come as a result of implementing the Sheff v. O’Neill desegregation settlement.

The Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), a regional district that operates interdistrict magnet schools, and the Hartford-area charter school districts added to their numbers of teachers in all race/ethnicity categories from 2004-12. In fact, the CREC magnet school district and Jumoke, Odyssey, and Achievement First – Hartford charter school districts more than doubled their (general education) teacher force from 2004-12. In addition to white teachers, the racially segregated Jumoke Academy and Achievement First-Hartford added several Black and Latino/a teachers over the last decade, thus increasing their combined proportion of these groups of teachers. (See chart at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/2016/02/23/where-did-all-the-black-and-latinoa-teachers-in-hartford-go/)

Over the last decade, Hartford started (and ended) programs and neoliberal policies such as school closures, staff reconstitution, principal “autonomy”, privatization, hyper-accountability, reduced economic security for teachers, preferential hiring for inexperienced and mostly white Teach for America participants, intradistrict and interdistrict school choice. Any number of these initiatives could have impacted have impacted the hiring and retention of teachers of color during these years.

Final Thoughts

At this point, and with the limited data available, it’s hard to untangle which single policy or event made the most impact. Did Black and Latino teachers in the Hartford Public Schools quit, retire, leave to other schools, or get forced out? If so, why? The short answer is that we don’t know.

The idea that some Black and Latino/a teachers left HPS (for currently unknown reasons) and took up work in other school districts in the region as HPS faced layoffs and other districts, magnets, and charters added staff is one possible explanation of where they went. The numbers invite this explanation as a possibility, but the data does not entirely confirm or explain what’s going on. We don’t have enough information yet to make a conclusion.

Combining the losses and additions of Black and Latino/a teachers for all public school districts (capital region, CREC, Hartford, charter schools), there is still a net loss of 27 Latino/a teachers and 39 Black teachers from 2004-12 within the capitol region. In other words, the Hartford Public Schools lost more Black and Latino/a teachers than were added in other local districts, including the magnet (CREC) and charter schools during this period.

Where did the Black and Latino/a teachers in Hartford go?  Hmmmm…

More of Robert Cotto Jr.’s articles can be found at: http://commons.trincoll.edu/cssp/category/blog/

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Malloy-Wyman take one last step to destroy open government and campaign finance oversight

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Since taking office five years ago, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration have done just about everything they could to shut down access to government information and undermine Connecticut’s once prominent campaign finance reform law.

Their primary target for their attacks have been the independent “watch-dog” agencies.

In their latest and perhaps most stunning move, the dynamic duo of Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman have proposed a state budget that would effectively put an end to the Freedom of Information Commission, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and the State Ethics Commission.

As the Journal Inquirer’s Mike Savino reports in his latest article entitled, Ethics office, FOIC, SEEC say budget cuts would render them useless;

The state’s watchdog agencies Friday warned lawmakers that cuts in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget would render their agencies essentially useless.

 “We have already been cut to the bone — we cannot deal with any more cuts,” State Elections Enforcement Commission Executive Director Michael Brandi told the legislature’s Appropriations Committee during a public hearing Friday.

Malloy’s budget proposal would cut a combined $891,983 from SEEC, the Freedom of Information Commission, and the Office of State Ethics — the three biggest of the nine so-called watchdog agencies that operate under the Office of Government Accountability.

[…]

Brandi, though, said the proposed cut comes after years of reducing allocations to his and other watchdog agencies.

SEEC received roughly $5.14 million from the general fund in the 2012 fiscal year, when Malloy created the OGA and consolidated the watchdog agencies.

[…]

Officials with the FOIC and ethics office sounded similar alarms, saying they, too, would be unable to fulfill their missions if lawmakers adopt Malloy’s budget.

Ethics Executive Director Carol Carlson said her agency is a small office with a highly-skilled staff that is “called upon to engage in multiple aspects of the division’s business, and each employee has multiple roles that impact our core services.”

Carlson warned that a reduction of just three employees — in an agency of 15 — means it no longer would be able to provide adequate training and legal advice to state workers, enforce the state’s ethics code, or process lobbyists’ disclosures that bring in $600,000 annually in revenue.

Like Brandi, the other agencies say cuts since 2012 have left them unable to absorb further reductions.

[…]

“The commission’s case docket has increased dramatically over the past several years, while its staff and funding have been greatly reduced due to consolidation and budget cuts,” FOIC Executive Director Colleen Murphy said.

Tom Swan, the executive director of Connecticut Citizens Action Group, made the issue crystal clear in his testimony to the Appropriations Committee;

“This appears to be a backdoor way to undermine the independence of these vital agencies.”

Meanwhile the Malloy administration continues their campaign to dismantle what is left of honesty and openness in Connecticut state government.

State won’t pay for DMV contract upgrade until it is done right… Connecticut?  No Kansas

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Is privatization of public services always bad?

Certainly not … Over the past three decades, most of Connecticut’s health and human service programs were successfully shifted to community based non-profit providers.  (The very social service agencies that are now being targeted for some of the deepest, most devastating but cuts in Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor’s new proposed state budget.]

But while the rush to hire expensive out-of-state consultants or privatize government services often produces a product that is more expensive and ridden with incompetence, waste and even fraud, Malloy and his administration have spent untold millions of dollars on just these types of efforts and contracts, often with disastrous results.

The problems associated with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles effort to upgrade their computer system is but one such example.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  In their new proposed state budget, Malloy and Wyman are now proposing to privatize additional services at the Department of Motor Vehicles and planning to end the requirement that motorists are up to date on paying their local car tax in order to register a vehicle.  Malloy’s plan would leave Connecticut’s 169 towns twisting in the wind, left on their own to try and collect the property taxes that are due.

See: Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again. (Wait, What?),  Malloy Proposes Bill To Outsource Some DMV Services (CT Newsjunkie);  Malloy: Speed DMV lines by shedding ‘collection agency’ role (CT Mirror) and Malloy Calls For DMV Legislation To Cut Wait Times (Hartford Courant)

It is almost as if the Malloy administration is dedicated to forcing cities and towns to raise their property taxes, while purposely refusing to look around and learn from the experiences of others.

Kansas’ problems with the same contractor that Connecticut used to upgrade the DMV computer system.

In June 2013, the Topeka Capitol Journal highlighted the significant and growing problems associated with Kansas’s decision to turn to the 3M Company to upgrade that state’s Department of Motor Vehicle Computer System. In an article entitled, State won’t pay 3M contract until system is fully implemented, the paper reported;

The Minnesota-based company responsible for the state’s new motor vehicle system won’t receive the remaining balance on its contract until the whole system is active and bug-free.

[…]

The driver’s license system was supposed to launch in October 2012, but after the motor vehicle phase caused several issues at multiple counties throughout the state, the KDOR decided to delay its implementation.

By 2012, the problems with the 3M contract in Kansas had led to the call for a legislative audit that, in turn, revealed significant “flaws in Kansas’ motor vehicle driver’s license overhaul.”

But as noted, asking Connecticut State Government, or at least the Malloy administration, to learn from the lessons of others is apparently too much to ask.

The Waterbury Republican-American’s Paul Hughes reported on the DMV situation in September 2015, DMV computer mess assessed – Poor planning cost time and an extra $1.9M, explaining;

“Inadequate planning not only increased the cost of modernizing the computer system for the Department of Motor Vehicles, but also delayed completion of the project, according to a new report.

The rollout of the upgraded computer system snarled business at DMV offices across the state last month after they reopened following a weeklong shutdown, leading to long lines, high levels of frustration and lots of coverage from the state’s news media.

In a report released Thursday, the legislature’s Auditors of Public Accountants said it appears that a lack of proper initial planning by the DMV and project manager 3M Corp. resulted in $1.9 million additional costs and delays.

The DMV agreed with the finding, saying agency officials will reassess the need for professional management services when undertaking major information technology-related projects going forward.

[…]
The report noted several shortcomings on the part of DMV and 3M Corp. regarding the computer system upgrade that cost $26 million.

A lack of adequate planning resulted in certain business requirements not being included in the department’s request for proposals form interested vendors.

The scope of the project had to be modified many times because of the improper review of the contract.

3M Corp. had changed project managers 12 times.

DMV’s own auditing unit was not involved in the project planning.

In another blistering investigative piece, the Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender examined the Malloy administration’s actions leading up to and through the DMV disaster.  On January 26, 2016, Lender’s story, Heated Words Inside The Crisis That Led To DMV Commissioner’s Resignation, reported;

Ayala, by the way, has not been heard from publicly since he submitted his resignation to the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Tuesday night and then held a brief, emotional meeting to announce his decision to his top departmental managers at DMV headquarters in Wethersfield.

[…]

Word of Ayala’s resignation emerged this past Wednesday, two days after The Courant submitted an FOI request and questions on a subject that might have become the latest political headache for him and the Malloy administration: DMV’s hiring in November of an Ayala associate from Bridgeport — who pleaded guilty in 2006 of felony drug charges in Superior Court and served time in prison — as a $36,000-a-year office assistant in the commissioner’s office.

The aide, Carlos Cosme, 39, worked for two years as a $40,000 staff member of the state Democratic Senate Caucus, starting in January 2013, then switched to DMV while Ayala was in charge.

Cosme initially was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2006 on charges of possession of drugs with intent to sell, but that term was reduced and he was released in 2009 to supervised parole that ended in 2011, records show. Cosme was not available for comment.

Personnel records obtained late in the week show that Cosme was hired at DMV on Nov. 13, although state comptroller’s records initially said it was early in 2015, and that he was rated as one of two top applicants by a three-member department panel that included Mildred Torres-Ferguson, the former top aide to the state Democratic speaker of the House who is now executive assistant in the DMV commissioner’s office.

The November hiring was Cosme’s second try at employment in the DMV commissioner’s office; it turns out that Ayala had attempted to hire him at DMV in January 2015 on his way in as commissioner, a top state official said.

[…]

Andres Ayala Jr. resigned as head of the troubled Connecticut DMV in the wake of a disastrous role out of a new computer system. The computer software, meant to streamline DMV services, resulted in massive wait times, erroneously suspended registrations and a number of angry complaints beginning in August 2015.

While Ayala appeared to shoulder the blame, his tenure and the continued problems came at the end of a process that began in 2009.

The errors in the software turnover have continued into 2016, with many vehicles missing from town tax rolls. West Hartford Assessor Joseph Dakers told the Hartford Courant that the missing property amounted to $7.6 million just for his town and it would take a long time for towns to sort through the missing data.

The DMV intended the Connecticut Integrated Vehicle and Licensing System Modernization Project, called CIVLS, to update its computer system. The goal was to allow more online integration so that drivers could register their vehicles, pay fines or fees and order license plates through a website rather than standing in line.

DMV awarded the contract to oversee the update to Science Applications International Corporation. SAIC then sub-contracted with the 3M corporation to use its software. SAIC and DMV purchased 3M’s software in March of 2010 under then DMV Commissioner Robert Ward. Over the next four years, the new commissioner, Melody Currey, oversaw the installation.

“It’s always referred to as the 3M contract, but really SAIC was the contractor,” said Currey, now Department of Administrative Services commissioner.

[…]

The contract with SAIC, with a value of up to $30 million, included just under $22 million for the 3M software, $4.9 million for “additional deliverables,” and up to $3.5 million for optional maintenance over eight years.

Installation of the new system was scheduled to take place over four phases, beginning with “Release 1” or R1. R1 dealt with back office financials and infrastructure, and took place out of the public eye. Currey described the launch of R1 as “very successful” and “a positive story.”

Following R1 in 2011, SAIC transferred leadership of the project to 3M to implement the R2 phase of licensing and registration. According to Ward, there were concerns within the DMV that SAIC was not devoting enough resources to the project and state officials pressured SAIC to turn over management of the project to 3M.

SAIC still maintained responsibility for the project, according a September 2011 memo from the company. “SAIC, however, acknowledges that it will remain primarily responsible for the completion of the terms and conditions of the Agreement. Any enforcement of the terms and conditions of the Agreement will be made in accordance with the terms of the agreement with SAIC which remains fully responsible for the performance of its subcontractors and the completion of the project.”

The problems began for Connecticut drivers during the R2 phase of the software upgrade. Similar to the issues facing towns now, records for hundreds of divers that should have been transferred were lost in the old system. The DMV had to assign a special team to retrieve the information. Glitches in the system itself extended wait times from half an hour before the upgrade to three hours following the rollout. Several months after the upgrade, drivers were still reporting that the DMV had erroneously suspended registrations, which led to tickets for the “violation.”

[…]

When a 2012 audit of the DMV found that the upgrade was facing serious problems with implementation, one of the names signed at the bottom of the report was former DMV Commissioner Ward’s. When he left DMV, Ward became one of Connecticut’s two auditors of public accounts.

The audit notes that 3M had changed project managers twelve times since work had begun. It also raised concerns about improper management. “It appears that inadequate planning of the project not only increased the cost, but also resulted in delaying the completion of the project. Many existing issues with the current antiquated system that should be resolved with CIVLS may remain unsolved for years.”

The audit recommended improvements. “The Department of Motor Vehicles should consider proper planning by using professional project management services for major projects such as CIVLS, so there is adequate planning in order to avoid additional costs and issues in carrying out the project.” DMV did not follow this recommendation.

Currey said many states have tried similar upgrades to DMV software with worse results. “It’s a very hard change in the system. You knew there were going to be glitches and struggles as it is with any change in technology.” She said that California, in particular, spent $208 million before giving up on a DMV upgrade project altogether. California was using the contractor HP Enterprise Services, another company with a sour history updating DMV records, particularly in Vermont where the contractor and state parted ways after an effort costing $18 million.

[…]

Some supporters say Ayala may have been the “fall guy” for a faulty system put into place years before his role at the DMV – while his predecessors moved on to new, more powerful positions.

“My four years at DMV brought about many changes that created a more effective department for people and businesses. I have those same goals for DAS,” Currey said at the time of her nomination to run DAS, Connecticut’s main contracting agency. Currey said she believes Connecticut weathered the storm much better than other states and now the new system is up and working properly.

While proposing to cuts to most of state government spending, the Malloy administration recommended increasing the DMV budget by 27 percent next year. Overtime at the agency is on track to double this year.

Overtime at the agency is on track to double this year?

And now Malloy and his administration want to outsource more of DMV’s services and eliminate DMV’s role in helping towns get the property taxes that they are due.  Of  course, unpaid local property taxes can lead to program cuts or increased taxes for those who do pay what they owe.

But apparently all of that is of little concern to Team Malloy/Wyman.

Democrats Malloy and Wyman stab state employees in the back – again – and again.

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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.

In addition, when Malloy and Wyman wanted campaign donations funneled into a special account run by the Democratic State Central Committee, the various unions came up with over $160,000.

And not a complaint was heard when unions’ political operation kicked into high gear, providing the votes that Malloy and Wyman needed to get the second term in office that they so desperately wanted.

Even after the 2014 election, Team Malloy/Wyman kept their proverbial hand out, looking to the unions to cough up even more of their members’ money.  According to the latest campaign finance reports, the state employee unions have donated in excess of $42,000 to the Malloy/Wyman political operation in 2015.

However, as Connecticut’s public employees are learning, yet again, the Malloy administration is fond of turning on state employees with a vengeance.

While refusing to demand that Connecticut’s wealthiest residents pay their fair share, Dannel Malloy’s new state budget plan cuts vital programs, lays off state employees and seeks to privatize public government functions.  The budget proposal is more in line with something that would be coming from the likes of right-wing Republican Governor Scott Walker.  (See also – Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU Wait, What? 11/6/2015)

In addition to proposing a state budget balanced through state employee layoffs, concessions and major budget cuts, each news cycle reveals additional attacks by the Malloy administration on state employees and the services they provide.

As CT Newsjunkie is reporting in an article entitled, Malloy Proposes Bill To Outsource Some DMV Services, in an incredible and deceitful move, Malloy is expanding his effort to shift the blame for the massive problems associated with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ recent computer upgrade onto the backs of the state employees who work at DMV.

Although it was the Malloy administration that contracted with the out-of-sate, for-profit company to revamp DMV’s computers, a move that has led to longer wait times and a variety of problems, Malloy is now proposing to privatize even more of the DMV’s activities.

As CT Newsjunkie reports;

AFT Connecticut First Vice President Jean Morningstar said the outsourcing of the information technology was just the most recent in a “long line of outsourcing failures that could and should have been avoided.”

However, “the administration appears ready to double-down on another risky contracting scheme. If it fails — like so many previous privatization bungles — state residents will be left with the tab and suffering from degraded services,” Morningstar said.

Morningstar serves on the State Contracting Standards Board, which has been unable to meet to go over contracts because the governor has yet to fill the vacancies on the board and it doesn’t have a quorum.

This week Malloy and Wyman will begin a new round of their – my way or no way — budget tours, and while the spin will be coming fast and furious, their fundamental approach to the Connecticut state budget will be clear for all to see.  Target the most vulnerable for budget cuts, expand funding for charter schools, shift costs to local property taxpayers, college students and others … and most importantly … blame state employees.

Malloy’s approach has certainly changed considerably since he took the stage  at the AFL-CIO convention in June 2014 where he proclaimed;

“A Connecticut moment is when you stand up for your fellow citizens,” Malloy told about 450 union leaders and supporters gathered in the unionized Omni Hotel. “When you understand that they too have rights; that we can move forward together, and in fact when we don’t move forward together, we move backward.”

If this all sounds a bit familiar… 

 Union Members Not Interested in ‘Wisconsin Moment’ (AFSCME + AFT IN CT Newsjunkie)

No Wisconsin Moment in CT (AFSCME)

Conn. Members Say No to a ‘Wisconsin Moment (IBEW)

Wyman: We’re All In This Together, Offers To Buy Foley A Ticket To Wisconsin Moment (OIB Blog)

NOTE: For those who want to be lectured to, the Malloy/Wyman style of leadership will be on full display at their first Town Hall Budget Forum February 11, 2016.

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman today announced that they will hold a town hall forum in Stamford on the evening of Thursday, February 11, 2016, to discuss his budget principles, his proposals for adapting state government to a changing economy, and other issues concerning the future of the state.

The forum will be held from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the UConn Stamford Campus in the Gen Re Auditorium (1 University Place, Stamford).  Residents who would like an opportunity to ask the Governor a question should arrive about 30 minutes prior to the start of the event to submit their name on a sign-up sheet.  The forum is open to the public.

The Stamford event will be the first stop in a series of town hall forums that the Governor and Lt. Governor will be holding throughout the 2016 legislative session.  The event will be similar to those they have held in previous years, where they answered hundreds of questions on a range of state issues at numerous forums.

Dates and locations for additional town hall forums in the series will be announced during the coming weeks.

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