Today is a day to remember that Malloy and the Legislature STOLE Connecticut’s school seat belt money!

From today’s Chattanooga Times Free Pres, 6 students in ICU after school bus driver charged in crash that killed Woodmore Elementary students,

Five students are confirmed dead in the Woodmore Elementary School bus crash and six remain in critical condition this morning.

Three of the students killed were in fourth grade, one was in first grade and another in kindergarten, according to Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly.

Descriptions from the crash scene appear to confirm that the death and injury toll would have been significantly reduced if children were wearing seat belts.  However, in Tennessee only school buses transporting special education students are required to have seats belts.

By comparison, school buses in California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey and New York must be equipped with seat belts and Texas requires that all school buses purchased after 2010 must be fitted with seat belts.

As Tennessee newspapers are now reporting, State Representative Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, “led an unsuccessful effort to require seat belts on Tennessee school buses last year after two students and a teacher’s aide died in a bus crash in Knoxville. Many lawmakers opposed the proposal, saying it was too expensive.”

But seat belts work…

According to a 2010 study conducted by the University of Alabama, seat belts work.  The three year tracking study found,

  • Students are six to eight times safer riding to school in a school bus than riding to school in their parents’ cars.
  • The addition of seat belts would make already-safe school buses even safer.
  • Based on 170,000 observations of pupils in pilot-project buses, the average seat belt- use rate was 61.5%.
  • Adding seat belts increases the thickness of seat-backs, leading to fewer rows of seats.

School bus seat belts might have made a huge difference in yesterday’s fatal school bus accident, but policy makers deemed that they were “too expensive.”

The cost issue was also raised in Connecticut, as well, when the General Assembly last debated mandating that seat belts be put into school buses.

At the time, a special fund was set up to help town mitigate the cost of installing seat belts.  To pay for the program the state dramatically increased the fee a driver must pay when reinstating their driver’s license.

But while the extra fee has brought in millions of dollars, none of the money has been used to help towns pay for installing seat belts in buses.

Why?

Because Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly STOLE the money from that special fund to help balance the state budget … not once … but twice!

It has been an issue that Wait, What? has written about many times.

For example, in a Wait, What piece entitled, They stole the fricking school bus seat belt money again! and published on June 7, 2016;

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.

For more on how Connecticut’s elected officials stole the money meant to help ensure seat belts were installed in school buses read these Wait, What? posts;

Democratic Budget Deal – An irresponsible farce (12/8/2015)

The Train Wreck of the Democrats’ State Budget (6/3/2015)

School Bus Seat Belt Fund: A prime example of Connecticut’s budget gimmickry (1/22/2014)

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

Malloy administration fails to properly regulate Connecticut charter schools.

Charter schools are privately owned, but publicly funded organizations that grab more than $110 million a year from Connecticut taxpayers.

But thanks to Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school policies, charter schools are allowed to violate Connecticut laws and walk away from their obligations to Connecticut’s students, parents and teachers.

For example, charter schools fail to hire certified teachers and employees.  See Wait What? post entitled Connecticut charter schools violate state law with use of uncertified teachers and administrators

In addition;

Charter schools refuse to educate their fair share of students who require special education services or those who need help learning the English language

And

Charter schools maintain inappropriate and unfair discipline policies that lead to unacceptably high numbers of students being suspended from school.

Instead of stepping up and ensuring these corporations are following the laws, regulations and policies, Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration simply looks the other way.

Earlier this year, Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education made her position extremely clear.

As the CT Mirror reported;

 The state education commissioner says she does not have the same obligations in investigating complaints from parents, students and teachers against charter schools that she does for regular public schools.

The state says charter schools are not subject to what is known as a 10-4b process, which lays out mandatory steps the state must follow to respond to complaints. The state said it has more discretion about whether and how to proceed with complaints against charter schools than it does for schools operated by local school boards.

[…]

The issue is a symptom of a larger controversy over whether charter schools should be given the increased latitude they have to run their schools while still receiving millions of dollars in state education aid

The failure to properly regulate charter schools has become so severe the national financial experts are now calling for greater charter school oversight.

A national publication recently covered this very issue in NFMA Calls for Detailed Charter School Disclosures.

The National Federation of Municipal Analysts is urging charter schools to provide detailed financial, academic, and staffing information in primary and secondary disclosure documents.

The news article added;

“The charter school sector has been very active in the last … four to five years [and] it traditionally has not had a lot of public rating coverage,” said Gilbert Southwell, vice president at Wells Capital Management and co-chair of the NFMA disclosure subcommittee that drafted the paper. “[The RBP] is both educational for our membership but also helps to establish our disclosure expectations when we’re looking at these deals.”

Dean Lewallen, vice president and senior analyst at AllianceBernstein L.P. and co-chair of the subcommittee with Southwell, said the RBP is the product of a year-long vetting process with a variety of market participants and thus reflects “an industry consensus.”

The document’s recommendations begin with key information that should be included in a primary offering statement (POS). According to the RBP, a charter school’s POS should disclose all material financial agreements, including the proposed indenture, loan agreement, capital leases, management agreements, and tax regulatory agreements. It should also include information from twelve other broader topics, like descriptions of facilities and their financing, pledged revenues, and projected cash flows. NFMA also wants descriptions of debt service, repair and replacement, operating and deficit, as well as insurance and property tax reserve funds.

The RBP lists disclosures in a successful charter school POS related to academic performance as well as school management and operations.

“A charter school’s academic performance has been identified as an especially important factor in charter school long-term stability and success,” NFMA said in its RBP. “Consequently, the POS should disclose all relevant aspects of the charter school academic performance.”

Charter schools cost taxpayers huge amounts of money.  Malloy’s gift to Connecticut’s charter schools are closing in on half a billion dollars in public fund.  It is time that elected officials make sure these corporate entities meet the same basic standards that public schools must adhere too.

Connecticut charter schools violate state law with use of uncertified teachers and administrators

As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s pro-charter school, anti-public school agenda, Connecticut taxpayers hand over more than $110 million a year to the state’s charter school industry.  This largess comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s charter schools refuse to accept and educate their fair share of students with special education needs and those who require extra help learning the English language.

Equally appalling is that these privately owned, but publicly funded, schools refuse to follow Connecticut law when it comes to the use of certified teachers and school administrators.

Connecticut State Law is extremely clear.

For public schools, 100% of the teachers, administrators and service staff MUST hold an appropriate certification and authorization for the position in which they are serving.  State certification not only ensures that teachers and school personnel have appropriate training but it also means these individuals have gone through background checks before being allowed to teach children.

State law even mandates that public schools cannot even pay non-certified teachers and administrators.

However, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the charter school industry, charter schools “play” by a very different set of rules.

In charter schools, only 50% of the teachers, administrators and professionals must hold a traditional state certificate such as an initial, provisional or professional educator certificate.

This means that up to 50% may serve under a “temporary authorization” process or have what is deemed a “quick and easy” certification from a charter school preparation program.  In no case are charter schools allowed to use teachers and staff who don’t hold permanent or temporary certification.

Yet despite this enormous flexibility, Connecticut’s charter schools are notorious for still having a significant percentage of their staff “out of compliance” with Connecticut’s statutes and regulations.

This result is that parents of charter school students cannot be sure whether their student’s teachers and administrators are meeting the most basic requirements to be in a classroom and that taxpayers are paying for staff who should not even be hired by the charter schools.

The data on the magnitude of the problem in charter schools can been found at the Connecticut State Department of Education.

According to official reports filed with the State Department of Education, and current as of March 2016, 14 out of 24 (58%) Connecticut charter schools are were violating the law when it comes to ensuring students have properly authorized staff in the building.

It will not come as a surprise to those who follow “education entrepreneur” Steve Perry, that the greatest violator of the law is the Capital Prep Charter school chain.  As of March 2016, 80% of Bridgeport Capital Prep Harbor School’s staff did not have any certification what-so-ever and were therefore in violation of state law.

A number of other charter schools had staffing operations in which at least 30% of the staff were teaching or administrating illegally.  This list included Achievement First Amistad, Achievement First Bridgeport, Achievement First Hartford Academy, Achievement First Elm City, the Stamford Academy and the Stamford Charter School for Excellence.

Other charter schools in which at least 10% of the staff were in violation of Connecticut law included Booker T. Washington Charter School, Brass City Charter School, Highville Charter School, New Beginnings Family Academy charter school and Path Academy Charter School.

Rather than giving Connecticut charter schools even more state money, state officials should be withholding funds until charter schools fulfill their legal duty to their students, parents and the taxpayers of Connecticut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecticut Income Tax revenues are down.

Connecticut Sales Tax revenues are down

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

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

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

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

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

As the CT Mirror explained,

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

[…]

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

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

[…]

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

The CT Mirror’s story added,

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

And

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

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

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

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

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

In illegal move, Malloy administration misleads public (again) on budget deficit

State law requires that on the 20th of every month, the Governor’s administration MUST inform the State Comptroller about any known budget deficit.  The State Comptroller, in turn, uses that information to help guide his mandated monthly report that is issued on the first of each month.

In October, Malloy’s budget division told State Comptroller Kevin Lembo that the budget was in balance, but as it turns out, that was a lie.

As Keith Phaneuf at the CT Mirror is reporting today;

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration last month warned dozens of state agency heads of a significant shortfall in the current budget — but continues to officially report that finances remain in balance.

The $133 million revenue shortfall disclosed to agency heads on Sept. 6 was excluded 14 days later from the last official monthly budget forecast submitted to Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo.

Malloy’s top budget chief told Malloy’s commissioners that there was a deficit, yet day later, sought to mislead Lembo about the problem.  Lembo, in turn, provided the public with a report that wasn’t accurate.

Early last summer Governor Malloy and the Democratic members of the Connecticut General Assembly adopted an austerity budget that cut vital services.  Governor Malloy swore the budget was balanced when he signed it.  Months later, when they knew there was a budget deficit appearing, they decided to overlook that fact when issuing their required financial report.

Six weeks before this critical election, Team Malloy choose to mislead the public.

As the CT Mirror explains;

Shortly after the budget was approved, analysts noted that summer income, sales and corporation tax receipts were weaker than anticipated. Since then, administration plans to save money from layoffs have progressed much more slowly than anticipated, further raising concerns about whether the new budget was balanced.

Still, the administration has reported no problems with the budget since the fiscal year began on July 1. It’s last monthly budget projection, filed Sept. 20 with Lembo’s office, held that finances were in balance and that revenues for the General Fund — which covers most operating costs in the budget — were coming in as anticipated.

Yet two weeks earlier, in a Sept. 6 memo imploring all agency heads to keep their spending requests lean in the next budget, Barnes estimated that General Fund revenues in the current budget would total $17.75 billion — $133 million less than the amount needed to balance the current budget.

What is the public to think when the governor of the state of Connecticut lies to the public about the size of the budget deficit?

Of course, the sad reality is that this isn’t the first time Malloy and his team have mislead voters about the budget in order to hide the truth for political purposes.

Remember, this is the governor who refused to admit there even was a deficit in 2014 until 10 days after he was re-elected to a second term in office. It was only then that the public was told about the growing fiscal crisis that lead to this year’s disastrous budget deal.

 

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

Yesterday’s news headlines read:

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

And

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

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

It was déjà vu all over again!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CT Mirror explains;

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

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

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

Let there be no mistake…

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

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

Connecticut Budget Deficits – As far as the eye can see!

Despite the political spin that he had put Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, Governor Dannel Malloy has presided over a continuous sea of red ink when it comes to the Connecticut state budget.

As Keith Phaneuf explains in a recent CT Mirror article entitled, CT budget closes in deficit again; little reserves left for this year,

“The governor insisted throughout his 2014 re-election campaign that nonpartisan deficit forecasts were wrong, and that growth projections for Connecticut’s economy — and correspondingly for state revenues — were too conservative.

But state government has had nothing but deficits since the governor’s re-election. Connecticut closed the 2015 fiscal year with the General Fund $113.2 million in the red.

Malloy began to acknowledge in the summer of 2015 that the economic growth he’d predicted was lagging, and by January 2016 he’d begun declaring repeatedly that Connecticut faced a “new economic reality” of modest growth. The Democratic governor’s Republican critics say this economic shift was evident years earlier and that the governor would not admit it until after he had won a second term.”

The actual numbers paint a stark and depressing picture:

Connecticut’s string of budgets in deficit:

Fiscal Year15   $113 Million Deficit

Fiscal Year16   $170 Million Deficit

Fiscal Year17   Present year – Deficit (To Be Admitted)

Fiscal Year18   $1.3 Billion Deficit (Projected)

Fiscal Year19   $1.6 Billion Deficit (Projected)

Despite two record tax increases and unparalleled budget cuts over the last six years, Connecticut is facing a budget shortfall of about $3 Billion in the next budget cycle.

Adding to the fiscal crisis is the fact that Governor Malloy and the Democratic members of the General Assembly have left Connecticut with a “Rainy Day Fund” of only $236 million, or about 1.3 percent of the state’s annual operating costs.  Comptroller Kevin Lembo recommends that Connecticut’s “Rainy Day Fund” should be in the range of 15 percent of annual operating expenses, a number which means that Connecticut has a fund that is less than 10 percent of what we should have set aside for difficult economic times.

And yet, in response, Malloy continues to downplay the problem, with his spokesperson telling the CT Mirror

 “The year that ended on June 30, 2016, was an extraordinarily difficult one,” Malloy spokesman Chris McClure said. “Income tax receipts were $650 million below budget, and the state was repeatedly compelled to take difficult steps to mitigate a developing deficit. We should be gratified that the hard work of state workers and the commitment of the legislature helped us to preserve more than $200 million of our Rainy Day fund, even in the pouring rain.

“We will continue to hold the line on the budget to ensure we fulfill our solemn obligation to balance the budget for FY17,” McClure said. “Our most current budget estimate, issued September 20th, is that the state is on track to meet its budget targets for FY17.”

However, the fiscal reality is that Connecticut’s budget is not on target.

Malloy and public relations team are intentionally overlooking the news that revenues are falling short and expenses are actually going to be significantly higher than authorized.

It would not be at all surprising if this year’s shortfall exceeds $200 million, eating up the remaining $236 million in the “Rainy Day Fund.”

But with Election Day a month away, look for Malloy to duck any mention of this year’s budget deficit until after November 8, 2016.

Then, and only then, will the people of Connecticut be told about Connecticut’s continuing budget deficits.

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

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