Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn (Sarah Darer Littman)

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The truth is that UConn needs a lot more than transparency – its needs a new President, new top administrators, a new Board of Trustees and a new Governor.

In a CT Newsjunkie column last week, education advocate Sarah Darer Littman highlighted the UConn management’s fiscally irresponsible, tone-deaf and elitist leadership style, an approach in which the President receives raises and bonuses and hands out large pay raises to her top staff, all while the state’s “flagship” university faces one record budget cut after another.

Perhaps more than any other area of state government, Governor Dannel Malloy’s disdain for doing the right thing has been on full display at Connecticut’s public institutions of higher education.

Claiming to be concerned about Connecticut’s economy, Malloy’s state budget policies have undercut college and career educational opportunities by dramatically reducing state support, which in turn, has led to much higher tuition and fees, all while reducing the level of programing at UConn and the state’s other colleges and universities.

Yet at the very same time, with Malloy serving as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the Board and UConn President have increased the already outrageously high salaries of top administrators at the University.

It is, as Sarah Darer Littman wrote, a “let them eat cake” moment.

As Littman explains in her Let Them Eat Cake’ Moment Shows Need for Transparency at UConn commentary piece,

Connecticut’s political parties might be increasingly polarized, but there’s one issue upon which they finally reached unanimous agreement: UConn President Susan Herbst has had a “let them eat cake” moment and her Board of Trustees is utterly tone deaf.

Jump into the DeLorean, fire up the Flux Capacitor and set the date for February 24, 2015, when President Herbst testified about how cuts to the university’s block grant would have dire impacts on the quality of education at the university:

 “A reduction to the appropriation in that amount would without question have a devastating impact on every aspect of university operations, faculty teaching and research, and student success . . . The greatest consequences of this would be the effect it would have on our students, our academic programs, and the role UConn must play in the state’s future, economic and otherwise. It would be a giant step backward. To address the gap this would create, our cost savings and revenue options will include: strategic workforce reductions and, to the extent permitted by collective bargaining obligations, unpaid furlough days for all employees including management and unionized workers, reductions to student financial aid, closing academic departments and programs including in Storrs and the regional campuses and ending certain degree programs.”

As of February, 30 faculty members had been laid off, according to Michael Bailey, Executive Director of the UConn chapter of AAUP (American Association of University Professors). It’s happening across the country — tenured professor positions are being filled by less expensive adjuncts for whom the university isn’t required to pay benefits.

“Approximately 50 percent of the faculty is off the tenure track with adjuncts accounting for 25 percent of those. There has been about a 10 percent increase in adjunct faculty use in the Fall semesters since 2010,” according to Bailey.

Yet despite this, at a time of massive state budget deficits and statewide layoffs, President Herbst and the Board of Trustees have chosen — because let’s be clear, it’s a choice — to go forward with massive pay increases to a few non-union administrators on the basis that “everyone else is doing it.” One can’t help but think of that oft-heard parental reprimand, “If all your friends were jumping off a cliff, would you do that, too?”

“The university does not run itself,” President Herbst reminded Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney and state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Senate Chair of the Higher Education Committee, in a letter responding to their questions. “We strongly believe in hiring high quality employees in order to fulfill UConn’s potential and ensure that we are as good as we can be as an institution. There are undeniably costs to that including the pay for the four people that prompted your letter, out of a workforce of more than 9,000.”

“I believe a contract is a contract and people should abide by contracts,” Board of Trustees chair Larry McHugh told the Hartford Courant.

What’s interesting — and revealing — is Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s position. He was stridently adamant that labor unions reduce their contractual benefits in light of the new fiscal situation

Those who care about the state’s fiscal survival, let alone the future of the University of Connecticut, would do well to read Littman’s piece which can be found at:

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/op-ed_herbsts_let_the_eat_cake_moment_shows_need_for_transparency_at_uconn/

The logical conclusion after reading it is that Connecticut AND UConn are in need of new leadership….

For more on UConn and its problems, read;

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

Was UConn President channeling Donald Trump in interview with student reporter?  (Part I)

ALERT:  Malloy’s Budget Cuts lead to another 23% Tuition Increase at UConn plus 7%

Malloy Administration ushering in a “Wisconsin Moment” at UConn and CSU

UConn hires Gov. Chris Christie connected law firm to negotiate contract with faculty union

Malloy’s blindness and lack of leadership leads to chaos at UConn

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Although Governor Dannel Malloy has consistently ducked his responsibility as the statutory President of the University of Connecticut Board of Trustees, the buck actually does stop on his desk…. Even while he pretends it doesn’t

Back in January 27, 2016, the UConn’s Board of Trustees voted to approve a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the University of Connecticut and the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA), the non-teaching professional staff at UConn.

No member of the UConn Board of Trustees voted against the contract.  All voted yes, except for one of the two alumni representatives, who abstained.

Then, as the concerns were raised about the contract by the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Dannel Malloy suddenly become critical of the agreement – despite the fact that, by law, Malloy is the President of the UConn Board of Trustees, Malloy appoints the majority of the members of the Board and Malloy’s own personal representative on the Board had missed 12 of the last 15 monthly meetings, including the Trustee meeting in January when the contract was approved.

Malloy’s personal representative has missed every meeting since then, having now missed 15 of the last 18 UConn Trustee meetings.

Malloy pretended like it all occurred on someone else’s watch and demanded the contract be withdrawn or defeated.

Now, six months later, the CT Mirror is reporting a new and even more shocking controversy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 – A few top UConn officials get pay increases despite tough times (CT Mirror)

In a fiscally challenging year in which few non-union managers received pay increases – at UConn or elsewhere in state government – President Susan Herbst is sticking by promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to give multiyear increases to four senior staff.

In December 2014 – one month after the governor cut state funding for UConn by $3.7 million and warned more cuts would come before the fiscal year ended – Herbst gave three of her most senior staff members hefty pay increases over two or three fiscal years.

Those increases went to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s deputy chief of staff. In 2013 she awarded her chief of staff increases and bonuses over the next three fiscal years.

Thursday, June 23, 2016 –  Legislative leaders call UConn ‘tone deaf’ over raises for top staff (CT Mirror)

Legislative leaders Thursday blasted hefty pay increases University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst awarded to four senior staff members as the state and public university grapple with big budget cuts.

“UConn’s administration continues to be tone deaf to the economic realities facing our state. Handing out exorbitant raises to their highest-paid staffers while at the same time increasing tuition on hard-working families is the height of arrogance,” House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday afternoon. “As state employee layoffs approach the 1,000 mark, and virtually every state agency is dealing with severe budget cuts, the leadership in Storrs has shown once again they just don’t get it.”

Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, D-New Haven, in a statement shortly afterward, called on UConn to rescind the raises.

“Really?! You’ve got to be kidding me. One might have thought that the examples of the disastrous mistakes of Chancellor Gray and President Hogan would have left a more lasting impact on decisions regarding raises for administrators in higher education. At a time when painful reductions are being imposed throughout state government, UConn should not see itself as an isolated and privileged exception. I urge President Herbst to reconsider and rescind these untimely raises,” said Looney.

The Connecticut Mirror reported Wednesday that Herbst was sticking to promises she made in 2013 and 2014 to award multiple-year, double-digit percentage pay increases to the university’s general counsel, chief architect and Herbst’s chief of staff and deputy chief of staff.

All received pay increases in the 2015-16 fiscal year even though few other non-union managers did – at UConn or elsewhere in state government.

The school’s top lawyer received a $55,000 increase over two fiscal years, her chief of staff received a $50,000 increase over three fiscal years and her chief architect received a $45,000 increase over two fiscal years. The general counsel and chief of staff also received bonuses of $25,000 to $30,000 each year.

Bonuses and pay raises for a select few elites while state employees are being laid off, tuition is going up and programs are being cut.

The reverse Robin Hood Effect continues to move forward at full steam.

Now watch for Malloy to wake from his stupor and demand something… anything in order to look good in the face of this disturbing development.

But face it, the one thing that won’t happen is for Malloy to take responsibility for his utter lack of leadership on the Connecticut budget or his failure to do what is right for UConn’s students and the institution’s future.

Malloy’s 2015-2016 state budget off by nearly a billion dollars

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When Governor Dannel Malloy signed THIS YEAR’S state budget he said it was balanced…but he wasn’t telling the truth.

In fact, it was off by nearly a billion dollars.  Budget cuts and layoffs have reduced some of the gap, but when the year ends in ten days – on June 30, 2016 – the state will need to grab much of Connecticut’s “rainy day” fund to balance the books.

As CT Newjunkie reports;

Connecticut’s budget deficit has grown to $315.8 million and the state will have to use more of the Rainy Day Fund than expected to cover the shortfall in this year’s budget.

Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes said Monday that the deficit has increased by about $56.7 million from last month’s estimates. It means the state will only have about $90.2 million left in its Rainy Day Fund because it will have to use $315.8 million of the $406 million Rainy Day Fund to close the deficit.

In his monthly letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Barnes said that revenues continue to decline. The personal income tax is down about $75 million and the sales tax is down about $28.2 million.

But the even more serious problem is with the budget that begins on July 1, 2016 and runs through June 30, 2017 (FY17 budget).

Again, Malloy and the Democrats have done Connecticut an extraordinary disservice by not setting up a revenue and expenditure plan that balances.

The establishment will try to keep the magnitude of the problem secret until after the November legislative elections, but despite massive layoffs and record cuts to public schools, human services and healthcare, the austerity budget that Malloy and the Democrats passed this spring – and claimed produced a balanced budget – is at least a quarter of a million ($250m) dollars out of balance.

With only $90 million left in the raining day fund, Malloy and his team has created a situation in which they have allowed him to drain the state’s reserves and burden Connecticut’s taxpayers with a massive deficit in the coming fiscal year.

Keith Phaneuf adds more in his article entitled, Outgoing CT budget deficit swells, hints at more red ink to come

The fact is that fiscal irresponsibility is major barrier to economic activity.

The state, its business community and especially its taxpayers would have been better off if Malloy had dealt honestly with the need for appropriate revenue to ensure vital services were maintained and the budget was balanced.

Malloy says NO oversight of his administration is allowed – Comptroller Kevin Lembo says what the ____!

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Yesterday – June 9, 2016 – Governor Dannel Malloy, who once pledged to run the most transparent administration in history, vetoed an extremely important piece of legislation that would have ensured that there was proper oversight over Malloy’s outrageous corporate welfare and economic development programs.

As the CT Mirror Reported,

“State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo called the veto “deeply troubling” and a blow against transparency. “

According to the news story;

“Malloy also wrote that transferring the analysis of tax credits from DECD to Program Review was “unnecessary and unwarranted.”

That drew a rebuke from Lembo, a fellow Democrat who testified at a public hearing in March favor of giving the job to Program Review, a bipartisan committee with a staff of non-partisan researchers and analysts.

“If objectivity really matters, we always want an independent third party to evaluate our work,” Lembo said Thursday in an emailed statement. “This is why teachers grade tests and students don’t just assign their own grades. Furthermore, this is a terrible loss of transparency where we need it most.”

Lembo said the veto, following a decision to provide $22 million in state bond funds to a rich hedge fund over his objection, is “deeply troubling.”

“The state owes it to businesses and all taxpayers to fully analyze the return on investment that these sizable and important programs actually deliver in order to assess whether such resources are fulfilling their intended purpose or, if not, whether state funds would be better deployed to other economic development or infrastructure investment,” Lembo said.

Malloy’s latest effort to keep Connecticut’s citizens in the dark about how badly government is managed comes on the heels of an incredible move by Malloy (and the Democrats in the legislature) to literally prohibit the “Independent” Office of Fiscal Analysis from warning elected officials and the public about upcoming budget deficits.

As a May 12, 2016 Wait, What? article reported;

Meanwhile, the same outrageous implementation budget bill includes unprecedented language that allows cities and towns to simply cut their local public school budgets by the amount of any reduction in state aid to those schools.

This means that while a number of cities and towns will be getting a major pot of cash dumped on the non-education side of the budget, they won’t even have to maintain their efforts to fund their schools.

And if those two sections weren’t telling enough, any member of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives who votes in favor of this bill will be taking the truly unprecedented step of adopting a law that would literally PROHIBIT the non-partisan office of Fiscal Analysis from reporting on future budget expenditures and possible deficits that are the result of the annual increases that go with maintaining current services.

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

With no public hearing, no public input and no public notice, Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have included language in this year’s budget implementation bill that intentionally prevents the media and the public from knowing the true ongoing costs of state government.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains this incredible development in his latest article;

Future state deficit forecasts are likely to shrink significantly under a method imposed in the new state budget plan that disregards billions of dollars in annual expenditures not fixed by contract or federal mandate.

The language, proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is included in an omnibus policy bill to help implement the proposed $19.76 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, blasted the measure — which was released only a few hours before the Senate was expected to debate it Wednesday morning — as a means to hide Connecticut’s fiscal woes from the public.

Malloy and his budget director, Benjamin Barnes, have been critical for several years of the deficit-forecasting methodology used by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

OFA generally tries to assess both the current and future costs of all programs, staffing, grants and other expenditures, whether fixed by contract or federal requirement, or simply set by state law.

The new methodology would disregard cost increases in most state programs, excepting debt service, retirement benefits and federal entitlement programs.

“Moving away from ‘current services’ will help us ensure that government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot,” the governor said Wednesday.  “As part the budget agreement, the state will change how it does business, and give residents and businesses the predictability they seek as government works to live within its means.”

The language is nothing but a blatant effort by Malloy and the Democratic legislature to hide the true costs of maintaining state services and preventing voters from understanding the ramifications of taxes and spending.

Dismissing the most fundamental notions of open government and democracy, Malloy and the Democratic leaders are engaged in a new political strategy based on keeping the citizens ignorant about how their government functions and how it spends their money.

No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.

But Democrat Malloy and Democratic legislators voted for Malloy’s maneuver and now Malloy has added salt to the wound by making sure no one outside of his own administration reviews the corporate give-away-program that is costing Connecticut taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again!

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Hidden deep inside the new state budget bill negotiated by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders, and approved last month by the Democrats in the General Assembly, was a provision that, once again, transferred the money that had been set aside to help school districts retrofit school buses with seat belts into the general fund.

As Wait, What? readers know, this is not the first time Governor Malloy and the Democrats have stolen the School Bus Seatbelt Account in order to make the state budget balance.

Since taking office, Malloy has reached into the special school seat belt fund four times, grabbing close to $10 million dollars.

Rather than use the funds for their intended use – to protect our children – Malloy and the Democrats simply grabbed the money to plug holes in the state budget.

This time, rather than adopt a fair and honest budget, the Democrats added Section 28 to Senate Bill 501 which “transferred” $2 million from the School Bus Seatbelt Account to the General Fund.  The legislature also swept $2 million from the Seat Belt fund to address a small part of the $250 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget deficit.

Previous Wait, What articles on this issue can be found via the following links:

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget. [Or for long-time Wait, What? readers file under – Not the Fricking School Bus Seat Belts again!] (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/14/2014)

Remember when school bus seatbelts were a big priority? (12/20/2012)

The School Bus Seat Belt Account was created following the tragic January 2010 school bus accident on Route 84 in Hartford that killed a Rocky Hill student who was attending one of the CREC magnet schools.  Following the accident, the Connecticut legislature kicked into action, passing Public Act 10-83.

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

To pay for the program, the Legislature increased the cost associated with restoring a suspended driver’s license from $125 to $ 175, using the extra $50 per person to create a funding stream for the important program.

Now six years later, no school bus seat belts have been installed, thanks to the fact that Connecticut’s governor and legislature have stolen nearly $10 million from the fund.

When these elected officials come looking for support, ask them why they didn’t do more to stop this outrage.

Election Year Politics – Congressional delegation to cut ribbon for Vo-Tech schools that Malloy/Wyman are destroying

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Welcome to the sad state of Connecticut politics in 2016.

The headline in of the press release screams out;

COURTNEY, BLUMENTHAL, MURPHY TO HIGHLIGHT ‘MANUFACTURING PIPELINE’ DURING ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION AND JOIN RIBBON CUTTING FOR GRASSO TECH WELDING SHOP

The news advisory goes on explain that “Welcoming remarks” will be provided by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman.

The event, which is taking place this morning at the Grasso Vo-Tech High School, will include a roundtable discussion, followed by a celebratory “ribbon cutting” for the Connecticut Vocational Technical High School’s expanded manufacturing program that seeks to, “train or retrain employees for high-tech manufacturing careers.”

Discussing the importance of job retraining in the 21st Century economy, Congressman Courtney, along with Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, will be basking in the glory of having helped the Connecticut Vo-Tech High School’s Workforce Training Program get a $6 million federal grant last year.

But of course, the problem – which is nicely overlooked in the media announcement- is that Governor Dannel Malloy and his policy partner, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, were successful in their effort to persuade the Democratic-controlled State Senate and State House of Representatives to adopt Malloy’s strategy of instituting the deepest cuts to Connecticut’s Vo-Tech high schools in state history .

Less than a month ago, a Wait, What? post explained, Malloy and Legislative Democrats target Regional Vo-Tech high schools for devastating cuts.

The state budget was finally passed and signed into law by Governor Malloy who slashed another $7.8 million from Connecticut’s Vocational-Technical High School system.  In conjunction with Malloy’s other budget rescissions, holdbacks, layoffs and gimmicks, Connecticut’s vo-tech high schools are reeling from what is in effect a cut of more than $15 million from what would be needed maintain the current level of services.

However, in an election year, successful politicians will find a way to turn a grant of $6 million, followed by a budget cut of $15 million, into a reason to have a ribbon cutting.

Hooray for the Orwellian politics of 2016.

More public money for the 1% – less resources for the rest of Connecticut’s public school students

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Governor Dannel Malloy, with the support of Democratic legislators, has made the deepest cuts in state history to Connecticut’s public schools.  Already inadequately funded, Connecticut’s elected officials are now truly undermining the opportunity for every Connecticut child to get the education the need and deserve.

However, Connecticut’s fiscal crisis isn’t stopping Malloy’s political appointees on the State Board of Education from shoveling even more public funds to the privately owned and operated companies that run Connecticut’s charter schools – entities that refuse to educate their fair share of students with special education requirements or those who need extra help becoming proficient in the English Language (ELL students.)

At yesterday’s State Board of Education meeting (June 1, 2016)), Governor Malloy’s appointees voted to allocate even more funding for charter schools, while pretending their primary responsibility to adequately fund public schools wasn’t being undermined by Malloy’s actions.

In Charter school enrollment set to rise, the CT Mirror reported that the State Board of Education was moving forward with a proposal from Malloy’s Commissioner of Education to allow charter schools to increase enrollment at charter schools next fall, noting;

While the enrollment increase will cost the state an additional $4.1 million next year, funding for traditional public schools is being cut by $51.7 million and for regional magnet schools, opened to help desegregate city schools, by $15.4 million.

In recommending that 14 of Connecticut’s 23 charter schools be allowed to enroll another 401 students, Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell wrote the publicly funded schools had a “demonstrated record of achievement.”

However, Wentzell isn’t telling the truth.  The reality is that many Connecticut charter schools are failing to provide equitable and adequate access to the full array of Connecticut’s public school students and that even after cherry-picking the students they will accept and keep, most charter schools are failing to do an adequate job.

The CT Mirror goes on to report;

One of the schools being recommended for an enrollment boost, however – Achievement First Hartford – was put on probation last month after an audit criticized the school for a high rate of disciplining students and having too few of its teachers properly certified. Achievement First Hartford includes an elementary, middle and high school.

The schools were first identified in 2013 as having some of the highest suspension rates in the state, but enrollment caps have been waived by the state education board for three years so enrollment could grow from 874 to 1,125 students. In a 2013 memo to the state board, the leader of Achievement First outlined plans to revise its “if-in-doubt-send-them-out” suspension policy, to better train teachers on handling disruptive students, and to reduce the offenses students could be suspended for. But data released in April showed the schools still have high suspension rates.

One other school, Jumoke Academy, is currently on probation, and two others were given notice they needed to improve last May.

Jumoke was at the center of a controversy surrounding questionable fiscal practices that were unveiled by The Hartford Courant. The school is in its second year of probation and is the only charter school that is being recommended for decreased enrollment. However, enrollment at Jumoke has increased since it was put on probation, from 705 students during the 2013-14 school year to 765 students next year.

Stamford Academy and New Beginnings in Bridgeport both had their charters renewed last May for shortened terms, and conditions for improvement were imposed. Stamford is being recommended for an enrollment increase and Bridgeport for a flat enrollment.

When Dannel Malloy took office in January 2011, Connecticut taxpayers subsidized charter schools to the tune of about $50 million a year.  This coming year, after becoming one of Malloy’s most important sources of campaign cash, Connecticut taxpayers are giving the private companies that run charter schools more than $125 million.  No other area of the state budget has grown at such an alarming rate.

As noted here at Wait, What? and elsewhere, charter schools have a long and ugly track record of mistreating students, parents and teachers.  Across the country, more and more charter school operators are also being investigated, indicted and/or convicted of fraudulent use of public funds.

One of the more noteworthy controversies surrounding charter schools occurred here in Connecticut when Jumoke Academy came under investigation for misuse of public funds and it was revealed that the company’s CEO didn’t have the academic degree he claimed but was living the high-life in a brownstone purchased and renovated by the charter school company.

Additional Background on Connecticut’s Charter School Scandals can be found via the following Wait, What? posts:

The downfall of another Charter School Management Company

What’s missing from the damning Jumoke/FUSE report – Part 1

FUSE re-lights Connecticut’s Charter School Scandals

Malloy and Pryor:  The Connecticut Charter School Debacle Expands

An ‘anything goes’ approach to charter schools by Wendy Lecker

Today’s MUST READ PIECE – Where’s the Accountability? Anyone? By Sarah Darer Littman

Columns on the Malloy/Pryor Charter School scandals

Will Malloy and Dems cover up new state budget deficit until after the November election?

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As Keith Phaneuf of the CT Mirror is reporting in a new investigative piece entitled, Pace of state layoffs slower than planned as one deadline nears, Governor Dannel Malloy’s inability to successfully manage the state budget problems will mean that the budget deficit that is hidden in the coming fiscal year’s spending plan will be significantly larger than previously reported.

The new state budget that begins on July 1, 2016, a plan that was adopted by the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, not only makes record cuts to public education and a variety of critically important health and human services for Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens, it is a budget that is actually out of balance by at least $250 million.

Just a few weeks ago, having pronounced the new state budget, Malloy and the Democrats pronounced it balanced, padded themselves on the back for a job well done, and left Hartford behind to focus their attention on this fall’s legislative elections.

However, the harsh reality is that the new state budget not only fails to adequately fund the programs and services that Connecticut citizens need and deserve, but the deficit hidden inside the new budget is so large that Malloy will need to implement record budget reductions on top of the record budget cuts that he and his allies have already adopted, or they will need to return to the Capitol to raise taxes, before or after the November election.

Although the most immediate question is whether Malloy and legislative leaders will even admit that their spending plan is a failure or whether they will try to hide the magnitude of the new budget deficit until after the November elections

As Phaneuf explains;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s efforts to reduce the state’s workforce are progressing more slowly than originally planned — an issue that could worsen a likely deficit this fiscal year and pose a bigger threat to finances after July 1.

As of June 1, 693 Executive Branch workers and 239 in the Judicial Branch have received layoff notices, a total of 932. That’s only about half of the 1,900-to-2,000 layoffs the governor said two months ago that he anticipated being ordered by June 10.

[…]

Budget counts on big labor savings

But the fiscal implications of reducing the state workforce — and of not doing so — are huge.

According to the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, just under 2,000 layoffs would save $133 million per year.

The new $19.76 billion budget Malloy and legislators crafted for 2016-17 cut $255 million from departmental salary accounts and also assumes the administration will find another $69 million in “general employee” savings.

Several legislators, including Sen. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford, co-chair of the Appropriations Committee, conceded this budget assumes more in labor savings than the administration’s layoff plan would provide — even if all layoffs are achieved.

If the labor savings are not in place, the new budget could be out of balance significantly before the fiscal year even begins.

“The new budget could be out of balance significantly before the fiscal year even begins.”

And out of balance it will be…

The effort by Malloy and the legislature’s Democratic leaders to claim that they would reduce the state budget by $324 thanks to state employee layoffs and concessions ($255 million from salary accounts and $69 million from “general employee” savings) was irresponsible and nothing short of a gimmick.

The plan was just another example of how their rhetoric and political spin has been designed to withhold and cover up the truth.

And the truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy has been consistently unable or unwilling to provide Connecticut with a balanced state budget.

In the months leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election, Malloy famously said – and reiterated on a daily basis – that there was no state budget deficit, nor would there be one if the voters gave him a second term in office.

During his re-election campaign, Malloy also promised that he would never, ever raise taxes again – a true “Read My Lips” moment considering there are even “revenue enhancements” in this year’s failed budget, not to mention the massive shift of costs onto the backs of local property taxpayers that will be required to make up some of the cuts to public schools.

It was only days after the November 2014 election that Malloy and his political operatives finally begin to admit that they were sitting on a sea of red ink.

When the state’s books were actually closed on that year’s budget, the final state budget deficit exceeded $110 million.

This year, even after Malloy and the legislature implemented massive cuts to state services and approved unprecedented numbers of state employee layoffs, the state budget will end up more than $260 million in deficit.

As Phaneuf explains in his CT Mirror story, Connecticut’s Rainy Day fund stood at about $520 million on Election Day 2014 – the day Malloy was given his second term in office by claiming there was no budget deficit, nor would there be one if he was re-elected.

But after the Connecticut Rainy Day Fund was used to cover last year’s deficit and will be used, again, to cover this year’s deficit, the total amount left in the state’s savings account will be in the range of $145 million, far less than the $250 plus million deficit that is already built into this coming year’s budget plan.

It sounds a bit complex, but it isn’t.

The decision to coddle the rich, reduce funding for public schools, undermine the state’s most vital programs, and layoff state employees, while knowingly saddling taxpayers with yet another large budget deficit is unconscionable.

Unfortunately, the question is not whether Connecticut will need to address this continuing fiscal crisis.  The only issue is whether Malloy will, once again, try to hide the deficit from the public until after this year’s elections are over.

I suppose the other question is whether the voters will fall for this ploy yet again

There is a reason the phrase, “enough is enough” came into being….

For additional background read the CT Mirror story at: http://ctmirror.org/2016/06/02/pace-of-state-layoffs-slower-than-planned-as-one-deadline-nears/

CT Legislators who voted in favor of the disastrous state budget should be defeated – Period

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The twenty-one Democratic members of the Connecticut State Senate have thrown their constituents aside by voting in favor of the budget agreement that was developed by Governor Dannel Malloy and the legislature’s Democratic leadership.  The budget is an appalling, mean-spirited and irresponsible plan that stabs the people of Connecticut in the back and violates the fundamental responsibility that elected officials have to do what is right for their constituents and the state of Connecticut.

Later today – Friday May 13, 2016 – the Connecticut House of Representatives will voting on this unprecedented attack on public education, vital health and human services and fiscal honesty and transparency.

Despite the lies coming from Malloy and his loyalists, the state budget does not balance nor does it put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order.

What it does do is undermine Connecticut’s children, our state’s most vulnerable citizens, public employees and the programs and policies designed to make Connecticut a healthy, safer and better place to live.

It is a vicious, stupid and short-sighted spending plan that mimics the values of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rather than the people of Connecticut.

Malloy, with the help of Democratic legislators, is ushering in an era of austerity that will hurt people and further erode Connecticut’s future and wellbeing.

Any legislator who votes for this budget voids their right to be called a representative of the people.

For More Read;

Dems slash education funding, sneak special 10% admission tax for Hartford and gag future information on deficits

Any CT legislator who votes for the proposed State Budget deserves to lose in November

Senate Passes Budget; House Up Next (CT Newsjunkie)

A handshake, then a vote on Connecticut’s next budget (CT Mirror)

Last-minute bill would rein in CT budget deficit forecasts (CT Mirror)

 

Dems slash education funding, sneak special 10% admission tax for Hartford and gag future information on deficits

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“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

Beware fellow citizens…

The disastrous state budget plan developed by Governor Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the Connecticut General Assembly is getting worse by the minute.

Having managed to hide key budget details from the public until the day of the vote, Democratic legislators are now being instructed to approve a budget implementation bill that includes numerous outrageous provisions that would never pass if they stood on their own.

Traditionally referred to as “rats,” select legislators, lobbyists and special interests use what is called “back of the budget” language to circumvent the traditional legislative process.

A prime example of this tactic can be found in Section 188 of the new state budget bill.

Connecticut residents may remember how Governor Malloy and other state leaders endorsed the construction of the new baseball stadium in Hartford, falsely stating that not only would the facility be a win-win for the Capitol City, but that Connecticut taxpayers would not be on the hook for subsidizing the project.

Of course, such was not the case.

Legislative language hidden deep inside today’s budget bill exempts events at the Dunkin Donut stadium from having to collect Connecticut’s 10 percent Admission Tax and, instead, sets up a new law that allows Hartford to add its own 10 percent surcharge on all tickets sold at the “Home of the Yard Goats.”

The money from this extra tax would flow straight to Hartford City Hall…. Providing the boondoggle with a much-needed public subsidy from Connecticut taxpayers

To sweeten the deal, the Malloy/Democratic leadership budget also adds a provision that a group of other cities could put on their own admission tax in their particular venues, but the others could only collect up to 5% of the cost of a ticket.

Meanwhile, the same outrageous implementation budget bill includes unprecedented language that allows cities and towns to simply cut their local public school budgets by the amount of any reduction in state aid those schools.

This means that while a number of cities and towns will be getting a major pot of cash dumped on the non-education side of the budget, they won’t even have to maintain their efforts to fund their schools.

And if those two sections weren’t telling enough, any member of the Connecticut State Senate and State House of Representatives who votes in favor of this bill will be taking the truly unprecedented step of adopting a law that would literally PROHIBIT the non-partisan office of Fiscal Analysis from reporting on future budget expenditures and possible deficits that are the result of the annual increases that go with maintaining current services.

THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

With no public hearing, no public input and no public notice, Malloy and the Democratic leaders of the General Assembly have including language in this year’s budget implementation bill that intentionally prevents the media and the public from knowing the true ongoing costs of state government.

The CT Mirror’s Keith Phaneuf explains this incredible development in his latest article;

Future state deficit forecasts are likely to shrink significantly under a method imposed in the new state budget plan that disregards billions of dollars in annual expenditures not fixed by contract or federal mandate.

The language, proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is included in an omnibus policy bill to help implement the proposed $19.76 billion budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, blasted the measure — which was released only a few hours before the Senate was expected to debate it Wednesday morning — as a means to hide Connecticut’s fiscal woes from the public.

Malloy and his budget director, Benjamin Barnes, have been critical for several years of the deficit-forecasting methodology used by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

OFA generally tries to assess both the current and future costs of all programs, staffing, grants and other expenditures, whether fixed by contract or federal requirement, or simply set by state law.

The new methodology would disregard cost increases in most state programs, excepting debt service, retirement benefits and federal entitlement programs.

“Moving away from ‘current services’ will help us ensure that government does not continue to increase spending on autopilot,” the governor said Wednesday.  “As part the budget agreement, the state will change how it does business, and give residents and businesses the predictability they seek as government works to live within its means.”

The language is nothing but a blatant effort by Malloy and the Democratic legislature to hide the true costs of maintaining state services and preventing voters from understanding the ramifications of taxes and spending.

Dismissing the most fundamental notions of open government and democracy, Malloy and the Democratic leaders are engaged in a new political strategy based on keeping the citizens ignorant about how their government functions and how it spends their money.

No real Democrat would vote for such a measure.

Today’s original Wait, What? post is even more relevant than when it was first posted.

Any CT legislator who votes for the proposed State Budget deserves to lose in November

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