Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich

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As a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s failure to get Connecticut’s fiscal house in order, his proposed state budget includes disastrous cuts to vital state services and programs while continuing the policy of coddling the rich and unfairly burdening the middle class. While Malloy’s state budget proposal includes tens of millions more for wasteful and destructive programs like the Common Core, the Common Core SBAC testing and charter schools, Malloy put forward a budget that reduces funding for education and cuts deeply into programs that directly benefit Connecticut’s children. According to CT Voices for Children, a Connecticut based research organization, more than half of Malloy’s budget cuts (54%) are aimed at Connecticut’s children.  Add in the cuts for those with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges and the other budget cuts aimed at the state’s other vulnerable citizens and the legislature is forced to deal with a budget that Malloy and his administration should be ashamed of. At the same time, Malloy’s plan demands that the Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly continue to undermine the state’s middle class and the economic well-being of their own constituents in order to “protect” Connecticut’s wealthiest residents. The data highlighting Connecticut’s regressive tax system is clear, concise and extremely disturbing. After federal income tax deductions, Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay an average of 5.5 percent for their income in state and local taxes, compared to 10.5 percent for middle-class families and more than 11.0 percent for the state’s poor. Rather than a progressive tax system, or even a flat tax system, Connecticut has developed a state and local tax system that allows the rich to skate free, while leaving the burden of balancing state and local budgets onto those who make far less. Keith Phaneuf reported the situation accurately when he wrote in today’s CT Mirror,

“Just before the income tax’s enactment (1991), the state taxed capital gains at 7 percent, and dividends and major interest income at rates as high as 14 percent. Those rates went away when the income tax was enacted. Earnings from these sources instead were subject to the top income tax rate, which stood in 1991 at 4.5 percent. The top rate has risen just three times in the 24 years since then – to 5 percent in 2003, 6.5 percent in 2009 and 6.7 percent in 2011 – and still remains below the old capital gains and dividends rates.”

The harsh reality is that Connecticut’s state and local tax system is designed to punish middle and lower income families. But Democratic legislators could push back against Malloy’s unfair budget policies. Connecticut’s top “marginal income tax rate” is 6.7 percent, a rate that is much lower than that in New York (8.82%) or New Jersey (8.97%).  Increasing the marginal income tax rate on Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers (those making more than $1 million) to bring it in line with New York State would bring in over $400 million a year. Eliminating a number of the useless sales tax exemptions that lobbyists have pushed through for their clients would raise another $400 million a year and ending some of the corporate welfare (tax expenditures) that Malloy has been doling out would mean that Connecticut could have a balanced budget that doesn’t destroy vital state services. The solution to Connecticut’s budget crisis is actually not hard to identify, but it does require conviction and honesty on the part of Connecticut’s elected officials…and that apparently is exactly what they are lacking. The next six weeks will determine what side of the battle the members of the Connecticut General Assembly will take.  The choice is simple.  Continue to follow Governor Malloy’s disastrous policies or actually come down on the side of their constituents and make the rich pay their fair share.

Governor Malloy Administration’s Gag Order is nothing short of Putinesque

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For even to the most cynical, the recent CT Mirror’s story entitled, “Is it a gag order or the Malloy administration speaking with one voice?” is utterly shocking and should make Connecticut residents extremely uncomfortable and very queasy.

The CTMirror article reiterates the reality that Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy is not the Dan Malloy who asked voters to make him Connecticut’s governor in the 2010 election.

Dan Malloy, the candidate, ran on a platform that he would be the “most transparent governor in history.”  He claimed that he supported Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance reform law, that he wanted stronger, not weaker, state ethics laws and that he believed that an honest, just and open government required strong Freedom of Information laws.

But since being sworn in as governor in January 2011, Dannel Malloy has become the least transparent governor in modern history, has consistently undermined and destroyed Connecticut’s campaign finance laws, made a mockery of the state’s ethics laws and has engaged in an unprecedented assault on the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

But his most anti-open government maneuver may very well be the news that Governor Malloy has allowed a directive to go out that prohibits his commissioners and other public employees from talking to legislators (or anyone else) about Malloy’s fraudulent state budget proposal.

As the CT Mirror reports;

Key legislators say a directive restricting what agency heads can tell legislators about Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget proposal is hindering lawmakers in doing their jobs and will push more of the budget-writing process behind closed doors.

“Our job is to negotiate and evaluate and build the best budget possible for the 3.5 million people of Connecticut,” said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, House chair of the Appropriations Committee. “Denying us the ability to do that is denying us our responsibility and our authority as the legislature.”

“I think this is a politically correct gag order,” said Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Haddam, ranking House Republican on the committee. “If we can’t get full answers to our questions, we can’t serve our residents and the state of Connecticut well.”

At issue is a memo Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, Malloy’s budget chief, sent last month to Executive Branch agency heads.”

In a stunningly inappropriate, unethical, immoral and arrogant demand, Malloy’s budget director writes, “Requests for new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds should be referred to OPM…Agencies are expected to support the Governor’s budget rather than providing alternatives to that budget.”

While there has always long been an unwritten guideline that political appointees try to defend their boss’ proposals, the notion that Malloy, through  his budget director, would direct public servants, who are paid with public dollars, whose statutory duty is to run a state agency and provide public services,  not to speak with legislators or others about, “new ideas, alternative reduction proposals, or for the agency’s priorities in restoring or cutting funds” is nothing short of Putinesque.

As for reaction from legislators, the CT Mirror adds,

“Referring to Barnes’ memo, Bye told The Mirror this week that she’s not surprised, “in tough fiscal times, that a chief executive wants to keep as much control as he can.”

But Bye added that the administration must appreciate that the legislature has its own constitutional charge to adopt a budget, and it must have more than just facts and data.

For example, if the Appropriations Committee is considering restoring two programs cut in the governor’s plan, but ultimately decides Connecticut only can afford one, members normally would ask officials in the affected agency which program might provide the most public benefit.

“If we are trying to choose between funding programs, it would be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives,” Bye said. “I think it would make for a better process.”

While State Senator Beth Bye’s conclusion that it would “be better if commissioners could offer us their thoughts on those alternatives” is absolutely true, her comment that is a forgone conclusion that “a chief executive wants to keep as much control,” provides cover for Malloy’s reprehensible action.

Wanting to “control the dialogue” is a long way from interfering with the Constitutionally mandated role of the Connecticut General Assembly.

The CTMirror article concludes;

“Barnes wrote Tuesday in a statement to The Mirror that, “We work together, as one administration, with all our commissioners and agency heads. This is a budget filled with tough choices, but they are the best ones to keep Connecticut on a path towards a brighter future. The Governor, through his office and through OPM, remains willing to discuss his budget proposals, or any other specific proposals legislators make, at any time. Executive branch employees are professionals who can’t be expected to publicly advocate for positions at odds with the Governor as a part of their job.”

Barnes statement is a bizarre and weak excuse for a policy approach that promotes secrecy and violates the most basic tenets of an open and transparent government.

The Democratic majority in the Connecticut House of Representatives should put down their budget pens, set aside their budget calculators and tell a governor and an administration that has gone amok that no further action will be taken on Malloy’s proposed budget until this outrageous memo is rescinded and Connecticut’s state commissioners and agency heads are instructed to be open and honest with all of the members of the legislative branch of government whose obligation is to review, revise a governor’s proposed budget and eventually adopt a budget that carries the weight of law.

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has lost his way, his mind or both….

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Governor Dannel Malloy’s re-election campaign was based on a fundamental lie. 

He knew it, we knew it, and now it is visible for all to see.

Having failed to right the ship of state, Malloy engaged in a desperate attempt to save his political career by telling Connecticut’s voters that there was no state budget deficit this year and that he would eliminate the $1.4 billion dollar projected budget shortfall for this coming year without having to raise taxes, cut services or seek concessions from the state employee unions.

Rather than admit that he had inherited a $3.7 billion budget disaster when he was sworn in as governor, but after four years, had created a $5 billion budget shortfall over the next three fiscal years, Malloy resorted to what has become the standard operating procedure for the incumbency parties —he just pretended that reality didn’t exist.

Despite his “read my lips” campaign pronouncements, Malloy went before a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly six weeks ago and proposed a budget that increased taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars, shifted hundreds of millions more in state spending to the state credit card and proposed devastating cuts to a broad array of vital state services.

It was a budget proposal that was nothing short of irresponsible.

And then, like a petulant toddler, he stormed back into his room and slammed the door!

The truth is Malloy’s behavior and approach could have been easily predicted.

During the campaign season Malloy used a variety of tricks to sidestep and circumvent Connecticut’s campaign finance laws.  One vehicle he used was a political action committee aptly named Prosperity for Connecticut, a PAC which raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from a variety of corporate interests, the most successful fundraising event being the one hosted by the charter school industry.

Fast-forward to his budget speech of February 2015 where Malloy proposed the deepest cuts in Connecticut history to the state’s public schools while calling for a nearly 30% increase in funding for charter schools.

The net result of Malloy’s “plan” for Connecticut would be cuts in local schools, high property taxes, especially for Connecticut’s dwindling middle class, and more money for his campaign donors and political allies who are profiting off Malloy’s Corporate Education Reform Industry initiatives.

Sadly, for Connecticut, the anti-public school, pro-charter school approach is just one more example of Malloy’s warped priorities.

Yet here we are; a state behind the curve when it comes to economic recovery and well ahead of the curve when it comes to budget deficits, fiscal gimmicks and dysfunctional leaders.

And where is Malloy?

The headlines this past week make it abundantly clear that his detachment from reality has only grown in recent weeks;

From CT MirrorAs deficit options dwindle, Malloy may be staring at a rainy day, and Lembo: Time to fix worsening state budget deficit is now and Larger deficit looms as Malloy warns of more emergency cuts and Malloy’s message: Forget raising taxes, restoring cuts.

And from CT Newsjunkie:  Malloy Tells Lawmakers There’s ‘No Remaking’ The Budget and $172.8M Budget Deficit Just Shy of Trigger

And then there is this;

Malloy: No Changes Expected In Spending Cap (Hartford Courant)

This from a governor who relied on a mix of gimmicks to get around the spending cap over the last four years.  On the state spending cap, Malloy and GOP have checkered past (CTMirror)

Read all of these articles, read any of these articles and the picture will become clear and stark.

Dan Malloy lied to get elected and his strategy, tactics and behavior will send Connecticut and our state government over the cliff and into the abyss.

The only thing that stands in the way of the coming disaster is the Connecticut General Assembly and that doesn’t provide much hope or optimism.

Look-Out – He’s got our credit card and he is going nuts!

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At last week’s State Bond Commission meeting Governor Dannel Malloy responded to a question by admitting that that his administration was informing Wall Street analysts that Connecticut would be dramatically increasing the use of the state’s credit card this year.

The CT Mirror’s story about the stunning announcement was entitled, “Malloy to Wall Street: Expect state borrowing to jump 40 percent this year.” 

There wasn’t a lot of other media coverage about the statement despite the fact that it is probably the single most important thing that Governor Malloy has said since he falsely claimed, during last year’s gubernatorial campaign, that there was no state budget deficit this year and that he would be able to solve next year’s projected $1.4 billion budget deficit without raising taxes or cutting vital services.

  • Recall that with less than a week to go before Election Day 2014, Malloy said the state was enjoying a budget surplus, although we now know that this year’s budget deficit has added up to over a quarter of a billion dollars and continues to get worse.
  • And as to his “Read My Lips” promise of no new taxes and no cuts to critical programs, the proposed budget that Malloy announced in February included $900 million in additional tax revenue, shifting about $300 million in existing spending onto the state credit card, along with a series of devastating and irresponsible cuts to essential state services.

But forgetting that Malloy didn’t tell the truth about the status of this year’s state budget deficit while misleading voters by promising to do the impossible when it comes to next year’s budget, the latest news that he plans to put another $2.4 billion onto the state credit card this year should be front page, top of the fold, large font headline news in every media outlet in the state.

Although the amount of state debt already makes Connecticut one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to how much debt our taxpayers must pay back over the next two decades, we now have a governor who increased the amount of annual borrowing from about $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion a year in his first term and has now announced that he is planning to borrow forty percent more this year.

As Keith Phaneuf explained in his CT Mirror article last week,

“Malloy notified the State Bond Commission on Tuesday that he increased what is commonly referred to as the “soft bond cap” from $1.8 billion to $2.5 billion for the 2015 calendar year.

That’s up almost 40 percent from last year, and almost 80 percent from 2012, when Malloy had set the cap at $1.4 billion.”

In an attempt to explain why the state would borrow such an excessive amount this year, Malloy told reporters,

“[M]oney continues to be relatively cheap and that can’t be guaranteed to last forever…Let’s try to capitalize on getting the cheapest possible money that we can when we have that opportunity.”

To put that statement into perspective, imagine calling a family meeting and telling your spouse and kids,

“Hey everyone, we just got a credit card in the mail with a low interest rate so you should all go out and buy all the things you want because we don’t know how long we’ll have access to low rates like these…and then when your youngest asks, but dad, how will we pay for the high monthly minimum payments that will be due each month for the next twenty to thirty years, you pat him or her on the head and say, I’m impressed you understand that point but don’t worry about it, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

In response to Malloy’s breathtakingly irresponsible announcement, the General Assembly’s Republican leaders on the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee pointed out not only does Connecticut rank as one of the most indebted states — per capita — in the nation, but observed that, “During these tough fiscal times we should be reining in borrowing.”

Of course, after their political shot at Malloy and the Democrats, the Republicans on the Bond Commission then voted for all the new bonding that was on the agenda for this month.

It should be noted that Malloy’s obsession with excessive borrowing is hardly new.

As the CT Mirror’s story notes,

“In the last two years leading up to the 2014 gubernatorial election — which Malloy won by defeating Greenwich Republican Tom Foley — the governor and the legislature’s Democratic majority also moved hundreds of millions of dollars of operating expenses onto the credit card to avoid pre-election tax hikes.

These steps included:

  • Refinancing debt to push $392 million in payments owed then until after the election.

  • Bonding $173 million in new municipal aid.

  • Bonding $57 million for pollution abatement and stem cell research grants that previously were paid for out of the operating budget.

  • Borrowing an extra $39 million so that debt payments tied to converting state finances to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles could be deferred until after the election.

And finally, as if to prove just how out of touch all of Connecticut’s leaders are on the issue of the growing burden they are placing on Connecticut’s taxpayers by borrowing more and more money, the CT Mirror story concludes with,

“Malloy spokesman Devon Puglia countered Wednesday that Republican lawmakers are not critical of state borrowing whenever the funds support projects in their home districts.

“I’ve never seen such hypocrisy out of the GOP,” Puglia said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Both Frantz and Davis [The Republican’s two top leaders on the General Assembly’s Finance Committee] serve on the bond commission and have voted to approve financing for various projects in their communities, or in those of their colleagues…”

Great, just great….

Rather than address the real problem, the Democrats and Republicans spend their time hurling insults at each other while they all just keep using the state’s credit card knowing that it is Connecticut’s residents who will end up having to pay off the enormous cost of the principal and interest they are racking up.

CT Capitol Report Headline Reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

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While some tend to fall back on the phrase, “I told you so” much too often, the truth is that rarely does one get a chance to point to someone else confirming an individual’s claim that that they really were right when others were wrong….

So with that as the backdrop and propelled by an opportunity to brag, tempered by an appropriate dose of humility, I am proud to report that ctcapitolreport, the state’s leading news aggregation website, is sporting a headline that reads – The Oracle: Pelto: Told you so…

The reference is to my long-standing and on-going observation that in order to balance next year’s Connecticut state budget, provide sufficient revenue to fund critical services and begin to reduce the unfair tax burden on Connecticut’s middle class, Connecticut’s elected officials must find the courage to actually do what is necessary and that means appending Connecticut’s tax code to require that the state’s wealthy begin to pay their fair share of taxes.

Longer term Wait, What? readers will recall that this blog does cover issues other than the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) Testing Scheme.

In fact, another primary focus of this blog has traditionally been Connecticut’s irresponsible fiscal policies that have resulted in a truly regressive tax system in which the state’s lowest income families 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 and the wealthy, who have been coddled by both Democrats and Republicans, only pay about 5 to 6 percent of their income in state and local taxes.

While the inequities in Connecticut’s tax system have been growing for decades, the problem has become particularly severe as a result of Governor Dannel Malloy’s unending fiscal gimmicks and his unprecedented dedication and addiction to irresponsible fiscal policies.

The article the website www.ctcapitolreport.com  is referring to is a news story posted early today by Connecticut’s premier budget reporter, Keith Phaneuf of the CTMirror.

Phaneuf has written another MUST READ story for those who want to understand Connecticut’s state budget and how Governor Dannel Malloy lied his way through the 2014 gubernatorial campaign by claiming there was no state deficit and that if he was re-elected we would eliminate the projected $1.4 billion projected deficit for next year without having to raise taxes or cut services.

Keith Phaneuf’s latest article is entitled “Tax hike ideas abound at the Capitol,” and can be found at: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/23/tax-hike-ideas-abound-at-the-capitol/

The CT Mirror piece concludes with the following;

Former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, who tried unsuccessfully to petition onto the 2014 gubernatorial ballot, predicted last summer that the big budget deficits projected for the next two fiscal years would eventually force a progressive income tax debate this spring.

“Requiring the wealthy to pay their fair in state income tax is the only responsible way to balance the state budget and begin to reduce the heavy and inappropriate burden on Connecticut’s middle-income taxpayers,” Pelto said last week. “Failure to require the rich to pay their fair share will mean unacceptable cuts in vital services and hurting the middle class and all working families by shifting even more of the tax burden onto local property taxpayers.

Or, in other words, “I told you so.”

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

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

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

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

CT Mirror Reports;

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

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

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So it’s finally official….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Keith Phaneuf at the CT Mirror,

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

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

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

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

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

What has changed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amistad Academy Elementary School

Amistad Academy Middle School

Amistad Academy High School

Elm City College Preparatory Elementary School

Elm City College Preparatory Middle School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Achievement First’s Elm City Imagine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check back for the next installment of this series.

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

Teachers, Parents Organize Against Charter Deal

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

 

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

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Updated – see new CT Mirror story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to Phaneuf,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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