Archive | January, 2016

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Commission Approves Millions for CSCU Projects


HARTFORD —  The State Bond Commission recently approved $27.25 million in capital improvement projects for the 17 institutions of the Connecticut State College and Universities  system.

The funding will be used for laboratory and research equipment; the consolidation and upgrade of student and financial information technology systems; the financing of advanced manufacturing and technology programs; and the restoration of academic facilities, safety system upgrades, deferred maintenance and ground improvements throughout the CSCU system.

“This funding will play an integral role in expanding our academic programs and strengthening our infrastructure to attract new students and train the workforce of tomorrow,” said CSCU President Mark Ojakian. “I thank Governor Malloy and the legislature for their ongoing support in helping our state colleges and universities update and modernize their facilities. The investments we make today will lead to technologically advanced classrooms and new IT systems linking our institutions in ways that will enable us to serve all our students better.”

Included in the bonding is:

  • $2 million to finance new and replacement instruction, research and/or laboratory equipment at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.

 

  • $10 million to continue the advancement and development of IT networks and capabilities throughout the 12 CSCU community colleges, and to continue the implementation of the consolidation and upgrades of student and financial information technology systems.

 

  • $2.5 million to finance the advanced manufacturing and emerging technology programs at the 12 CSCU community colleges.

 

  • $7.75 million for various alterations and improvements to the 12 community colleges, Charter Oak State College and System Office buildings.

 

  • $5 million for various alterations and improvements to buildings at Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities. These alterations and improvements will include restoration of academic facilities, upgrading safety systems and other ground improvements.

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Norwich Woman Faces Unemployment Fraud Charges


NORWICH — A Norwich woman was arrested on Monday and charged with illegally collecting Unemployment Compensation benefits from the State of Connecticut when she was working in Maine.

Tanya M. Stonick, 38, of 91 Prospect St., Norwich, was charged with one count each of Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community and Unemployment Compensation Fraud.

The arrest is the result of an investigation by the Unemployment Compensation Fraud Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney following a complaint by the Connecticut Department of Labor.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Stonick fraudulently collected approximately $11,690 in unemployment benefits from May 2011 through February 2012 when, in fact, she was working in Maine and after she had voluntarily left her job and was thus ineligible for benefits.

Stonick was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear in New Britain Superior Court, G.A. No. 15, on Feb. 4, 2016. The charges are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent unless and until she is found guilty.

Larceny in the First Degree by Defrauding a Public Community is a Class B felony punishable by not less than one year nor more than 20 years in prison or up to a $15,000 fine.

Unemployment Compensation Fraud in excess of $500 is a Class D felony punishable by not less than 1 year nor more than 5 years in prison or up to a $5,000 fine.

 

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Gov. Malloy Accused of Condoning State Sanctioned Terrorism, Human Rights Abuse


Updated December 2, 2016

Law enforcement officers intend to go after the instigators–not the victims of these crimes.

HARTFORD — According to sources with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Gov. Dannel Malloy has been governing a state that allegedly promotes state sanctioned terrorism, including home-grown terrorists such as the Ku Klux Klan.

On World Press Freedom Day, one journalist said she was on house arrest by the KKK and others, who claimed they were with the Malloy administration, the Hartford Police and Avon Police departments. The journalist was kept in her home and stopped from writing about the 2016 presidential campaign and other politically charged stories in Connecticut. She was also stopped from voting in the 2015 election.

Using microscopic electronic nodes, mind readers and hypnosis, domestic terrorists would insert grammatical and factual errors into her work, tamper with emails and other social media accounts. The award-winning journalist said this was the latest round of tactics used to suppress her writing and use her identity. Because she was “clean as a whistle,” they also wanted to plant stories to “sully her impressive profile.”

To date, there has been no public arrests for identity theft or this hate crime–just firings. And state and city employees, who have access to a state surveillance system, wanted to control the journalist and her writing. They also moved to steal the publication and control the publisher so that they have access to content.

Using a mind reader device that can decipher words from brainwaves, political operatives, some of whom are law enforcement officials moonlighting, committed other crimes include theft of services,  invasion of privacy and larceny. Additionally, the journalist was tortured for several days. They cut her hair, scarred her face, neck, breasts, and legs. They also stole electronic devices, computers, money and other reporting tools. To date, the damage is worth $80 million, according to sources on a five-year investigation into the woman and her relationship to someone in the White House.

As a result, she and other journalists affected made plans to file a United Nations complaint for, among other things, limiting freedom of speech, religious persecution, invasion of privacy, disturbing the peace, human rights abuse and failure to adequately protect her and her family under the 14th Amendment.

According to a draft of the complaint, law enforcement officials have invaded thier privacy since 2013. That’s because they were invited by several Connecticut residents to learn about what the state and rogue police officers had done to violate their civil rights and civil liberties. Greater Hartford residents said they  wanted them to “tell the story,” so that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division could intervene on attempts to enslaved them in poverty. This new form of slavery, they said, was called “slavery by another name.” That includes debt slavery.

On March 8, 2016, the perpetrators allegedly tried to assassinate one journalist in Saint Francis Hospital because of the story she has uncovered in 2015. Also, the story about Gugsa “Abe” Dabela is also linked to this matter, sources said.  Gugsa was a Redding attorney killed early morning on April 5, 2014 while the same journalist was being held in the John Dempsey Hospital emergency room.

According to sources close to this case,  state officials and other law enforcement agents did not want the reporter to write about the Dabela or other racially charged case to provoke a Black Lives Matter movement in Connecticut.

After a year and a half of investigating another story linked to the Dabela case, several  officers from the Avon Police Department, the Hartford Police Department and other governmental agencies have had several journalists under surveillance. They also have, on several occasions, forced them out of the state during important dates surrounding the allegedly investigation of corruption and fraud.

Below is a list of suspects who participated–overtly and covertly– in this human rights abuse and media suppression case, most notable for allegedly using Santeria and government resources to inflict harm on individuals.

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African American Affairs Commission to Host Exhibit


HARTFORD — The African-American Affairs Commission will host a series of events to celebrate black history month.

The events include “ALL ME: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert” a Black History Art Exhibit, Film Screening and History Exhibit, which will be screened on Feb. 24, in the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol at 1:30 p.m. at the CT State Capitol.

After the screening, there will be a film screening & discussion.

Rembert is a self-taught artist, who works out of a humble home in the Newhallville Section of New Haven, CT.  Rembert hand-tools and paints on leather canvases. He uses large sheets of tanned leather into which he carves pictures and then paints them with indelible leather dyes, expressing his colorful, often painful, memories of the Jim Crow south during his youth.

Rembert grew up in Cuthbert, Georgia, where he spent much of his childhood laboring in the cotton fields. He was arrested during a 1960s civil rights march. As a prisoner, he learned to make tooled leather wallets and design on leather.

Now Rembert is telling the next chapter of that story—how a man who learned to tool leather in prison has emerged as an artist on a national platform. The story is captured in a documentary “ALL ME: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert.”

Artist Winfred Rembert and the film’s Director, Vivian Ducat will be on hand for Q&A after the film.  Click here to view the film trailer.

Rembert’s art work will be displayed in the Legislative Office Building Concourse, 300 Capitol Ave., in Hartford.

The public is invited and encouraged to stop by to view the art exhibit, week days during business hours Feb. 15 – 29.

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American Airlines to Launch Nonstop Flights


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut Airport Authority  on Tuesday announced that American Airlines will soon debut new daily, nonstop service between Bradley International Airport  and Los Angeles International Airport.

According to a press release, the Malloy administration said that the new flight will connect Greater Hartford to other parts of the world.

“Our future as a state is linked directly to our transportation system, and as we build up Bradley Airport, we are helping businesses large and small,” Malloy said. “This announcement is indeed another step forward for Connecticut.”

The service will begin  on June 2, 2016, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft with a 150-seat configuration.

The daily departure from Bradley is scheduled at 7:00 a.m. with an arrival in Los Angeles at 10:00 a.m.  The inbound flight is scheduled to depart Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. and arrive at Bradley at 5:20 a.m.  Tickets will go on sale on Jan. 23.

“The CAA is pleased to welcome the American Airlines Bradley to LAX route and the benefits it will bring to our business and leisure travelers,” CAA Board Chair Mary Ellen Jones said.  “The addition of this service enhances the travel opportunities for passengers traveling from Bradley to our nation’s most desirable cities.”

Executive Director Kevin Dillon said the company is looking to expand the nonstop packages in the area.

“By partnering with airlines to introduce services such as this one we are providing our passengers easier access to our nation’s most popular destinations and beyond.  We are pleased to see an expanded American Airlines footprint at Bradley and we look forward to our ongoing partnership.”

The American Airlines Bradley to LAX announcement follows the CAA’s recent launch of United Airlines service to Denver, Colorado and the anticipated introduction of non-stop Aer Lingus service to Dublin, Ireland in September.

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Hilary Clinton Leads in Polls After South Carolina Democratic Debate


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer
CHARLESTON, S. C. – After a contentious debate between the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, Hilary Clinton emerged as a leader in the polls, pushing back an insurgent candidate from Vermont.

 
Clinton sparred with the Sen. Bernie Sanders, who brands himself as a Democratic Socialist. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley came in a distant third after the fourth debate in Charleston, South Carolina. The debate was moderated by NBC News’ Lester Holt and Andrea Mitchell.

 
According to polls released on Sunday by NBC News/Wall Street Journal, the former secretary of state received 59 percent support from Democratic primary voters, while 34 percent support the Vermont senator. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received 2 percent support.

 
Before the debate, another poll two weeks before the first votes in Iowa, 79 percent of Democratic primary voters say they would support Clinton. And of those same pollers, 66 percent say they would support Sanders.

 
Historically, the South Carolina primary election has been more important to the Republican Party’s nomination process, used to eliminate serious contenders facing the party’s frontrunner.

 
Clinton challenged Sanders on his policy shifts on universal health care, one of President Barack Obama’s signature achievements. Sanders said he would also build on Obamacare and tweak it to be Medicaid for all who are eligible, instead getting rid of Obamacare.

 
Positing herself as someone who can do “all aspects of the job,” the second-time presidential candidate also questioned Sanders policy shift on gun control. She also labeled Sanders as a fringe candidate, saying he would be unelectable.

 
Sanders pushed back with poll numbers, which puts him closer to Clinton before the South Carolina debates.

 
“When this campaign began, she was 50 points ahead of me,” he said. “We were all of three percentage points. Guess what? In Iowa and New Hampshire, the race is very, very close.”

 
He also cited his close tie in a general election against Trump.

 
Sanders beats Trump by 54 percent to 39 percent. And Clinton polled with 51 percent to 41 percent.

 
The two candidates took center stage because of Sanders gains in the polls before the Iowa caucuses. They also argued on who would be best to build on Obama’s legacy on healthcare and gun control, two hot-button issues fought vigorously in the Republican-led House and Senate.

 
Clinton proposed to build on Obama’s legacy and Sanders said he would be the right candidate that appeals to the current sentiments of the Democratic Party.

 
Sanders tried to present himself as the bolder choice to build on Mr. Obama’s legacy.

 
Despite the impressive showing by Sanders in these polls, one thing is clear: Clinton is leading Sanders.

 
O’Mally got feisty in the last democratic debate before the Iowa caucus, criticizing the two leading and “tested” candidates and show his support for privacy rights.

 
In response to the YouTube viewer about his stance on privacy versus security.

 
“I believe whether it’s a backdoor or a front door that the American principle of law should still hold our federal government should have to get a warrant, whether they want to come through the backdoor or your front door,” O’Malley said.

 
South Carolinians are expected to vote on Feb. 27.

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Councilwoman Winch to Hold Community Meeting


HARTFORD — Councilwoman rJo Winch wants to hear from her constituents.

That’s why the councilwoman, after off the council for about 6 years, will be hosting a community meeting Jan. 20, 2016 in City Hall Council Chambers at at 6 p.m.

Winch, who returns to the Council with Mayor Luke Bronin’s slate in the recent election, is asking Hartford residents to  bring community ideas around labor, workforce, education and youth.

Winch said she “is committed to hearing from the community and addressing” thier needs.

This event is open to the public.

 

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United Way Seeks Volunteer Readers


HARTFORD — Learning to read at a young age is the most important predictor of time high school graduation, yet it can be a frustrating experience for some students. Just a little help goes a very long way.

Last year, 200 students enrolled in United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut’s Readers program and 95 percent of them improved their literacy skills. This year, more students in our community need you.

As a United Way Reader, you’ll help more students learn to read so they build the skills needed to do well in school and become successful adults. Each week, you and a student will work one-on-one. You’ll read together and do educational activities, helping them improve their overall reading skills, and gain confidence in sounding out words and vocabulary.

Learn more and hear Katrease share her experiences as a United Way Reader: www.unitedwayinc.org/UWReaders

Become a United Way Reader today! Signing up is easy:
• Visit unitedwayinc.org/read to sign up as a reader in Enfield, New Britain or Hartford
• Choose one day a week to volunteer for an hour from February-May 2016
• Attend an orientation prior to starting the program
• Show up each week at your assigned school to read with the same student

United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut is a proud leader in the local Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. This program is one way United Way and its partners help hard-working ALICE households succeed by ensuring their children learn to read by the fourth grade.
Learn more at unitedwayinc.org/ALICECT.

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GE Moving Global Headquarters From Fairfield to Boston


General Electric will relocate its global headquarters from Fairfield to Boston, the company said Wednesday, setting off a scramble to frame the decision as either a political failure by Connecticut or simply a hard-nosed business move by one of the world’s largest conglomerates.

“Boston was selected after a careful evaluation of the business ecosystem, talent, long-term costs, quality of life for employees, connections with the world and proximity to other important company assets,” Jeff Immelt, the company’s chief executive, said Wednesday afternoon in a statement about the move.

GE has about 800 employees in Fairfield. The Boston Globe, which reported the story first Wednesday morning, wrote that, while some executives are expected to relocate this summer, the “full move” from Fairfield will take place over the next few years.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who returned to the state late Wednesday morning after attending the State of the Union address, met with reporters at 2 p.m. at Pegasus Manufacturing, a growing company in Middletown undoubtedly chosen as a favorable place to begin damage control.

“We win some, we lose some,” the governor said. “This hurts.”

Malloy said despite this setback, Connecticut’s economy is making progress, adding that three companies recently committed to move here, creating about 700 jobs.

The governor also said he would continue to work on stabilizing Connecticut’s long-term pension obligations, calling it a broader issue both for all businesses and for the state’s overall fiscal health.

The reaction from elsewhere was fast and largely negative.

“I think GE leaving is cataclysmic, really,” said Rep. John H. Frey, R-Ridgefield, who has emerged as an informal voice of GE since June, when the company first broached leaving. “I do think it is a defining moment for Gov. Malloy, and it’s not a good one.”

“It is terribly disappointing,” said Joseph F. Brennan, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “They are great corporate citizens. They add a lot to the fabric of Connecticut.”

One of the key questions for the state will be the extent to which GE elaborates on its rationale for a move to a state without an obvious advantage in taxes or overall cost of business. GE has been rebranding itself as a tech company, making Boston a more attractive headquarters location.

“My understanding is what they found in Massachusetts is a supportive state and local government, which they didn’t find here, going back to the call I got from GE in late May or June,” said Frey, who is friends with Jeffrey S. Bornstein, the company’s chief financial officer.

Massachusetts has its own fiscal issues, but business leaders — including officials with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association — insisted GE’s primary concern about the Nutmeg State lay with broader questions about the long-term fiscal stability of Connecticut.

Connecticut already has one of the largest bonded debt burdens, per capita, of any state, owing more than $22 billion. But an even larger threat looms in the area of “soft debt,” specifically, more than $47 billion in unfunded retirement benefit obligations.

Connecticut was rated the third-worst state last year on unfunded pension liability by Bloomberg. Massachusetts was 11th.

Connecticut’s annual required contribution to its pension fund for state employees, which stands at $1.5 billion now, could spike by 2032 to $3.8 billion, according to Treasurer Denise L. Nappier, or $6.65 billion according to Malloy.

“It was the lack of predictability, the uncertainty when we’re going from deficit to tax increase to deficit to tax increase,” Brennan said. “It makes it more difficult to plan. These are all things we’ve been talking about for a long time.”

“GE leaving is a shocker for the state of Connecticut,” Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said. “… It certainly is not a surprise, unfortunately.”

“It’s a very sad day for the state of Connecticut, but not a surprise to any of us who have been involved in government, or — quite frankly — to anyone who has been in business in the state of Connecticut,” said House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby.

Brennan did note that “Boston has been growing by leaps and bounds” and that recent economic development centered on its colleges and universities has gotten the attention of many corporations.

“That’s where the game is right now,” he added. “It’s about attracting talent.”

The Massachusetts governor’s office also disclosed some of the incentives Massachusetts and Boston offered the company to move, including:

  • Up to $120 million in state grants and programs.
  • Up to $25 million in municipal property tax relief.
  • Up to $5 million for an innovation center to forge connections between GE, innovators from Massachusetts research institutions and the higher education community.
  • A commitment to existing local transportation infrastructure improvements in the Seaport District to which GE would locate.
  • And appointment of a relocation team and other assistance to aid GE employees looking to buy homes in Boston.

Leaders of the Democratic majorities in Connecticut’s legislature insisted GE’s departure was not a response to budget decisions here while trying to put the best possible face on the local economy.

“It is clear that GE’s decision has nothing to do with taxes, or even business costs, and cannot fairly be viewed as a referendum on Connecticut’s growing economy,” Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, said. “Connecticut’s unemployment rates have dropped to the lowest level since March 2008. In 2015, Connecticut saw the sixth-largest unemployment drop in the country. In fact, GE just increased its workforce in Connecticut after purchasing Alstom Energy, adding 1,200 jobs in Windsor and Bloomfield.”

“While I am disappointed that GE is moving approximately 200 jobs to Boston, it is, however, an undeniable fact that Connecticut’s economy is growing and creating jobs and we are training our workforce to compete in a global economy,” added Senate Minority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk.

“GE’s decision to relocate across the border to downtown Boston is certainly disappointing, yet we remain a favored location for companies to thrive,” said House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden. “It appears, particularly from GE’s advertising, that their decision is not about taxes but more about rebranding into a high-tech company, and Boston is well known as a high-tech industry hub.”

Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, whose 4th District includes Fairfield, issued a joint statement calling GE’s announcement “disappointing news” but saying that “General Electric is committed to keeping thousands of manufacturing jobs and other high-paying positions in our state. That is important to Connecticut families and our economy.”

Malloy made pitches to GE both last summer and in December to keep the company headquarters here. And though he didn’t release details, the Connecticut governor did confirm previously that some package of financial incentives was offered.

“What we have indicated is a willingness to work with them on – if you want to call it a package, you can call it a package – in general, and in some cases, specific terms of what we thought we could do,” the governor said back on Aug. 24. “… They had us in. We made a presentation.”

GE was one of several major corporations that complained loudly this past June when legislators and Malloy agreed on a new two-year budget that increased state taxes by more than $1.3 billion over the biennium.

Despite warnings from nonpartisan analysts throughout much of 2014 that state government faced a major deficit after the November elections, Malloy insisted there wasn’t a shortfall and had pledged not to increase taxes.

After negotiating a tentative budget deal in early June 2015 that included a $1.5 billion tax hike – and also canceled previously approved tax cuts worth close to $500 million over the biennium – the Malloy administration reversed itself after the Democrat-controlled legislature narrowly approved the budget.

In a June special session, the governor and legislature peeled back about $178 million of those tax hikes, focusing largely on hikes aimed at businesses.

And while another special session was held in December to close a relatively small hole in the current fiscal year, more than $300 million in red ink looms in 2016-17, while a shortfall topping $1.5 billion still is forecast for 2017-18.

The December deficit-mitigation effort, which GOP lawmakers opposed for not cutting spending more deeply, lacked “the structural changes that the I think the state of Connecticut needed to show businesses like GE,” Fasano said. Republicans particularly pressed harder for labor concessions and other changes to tighten personnel costs.

Rep. Bob Godfrey, D-Danbury, said Wednesday that he was sorry, but unsurprised, to see the company leave, and said the decision to move was probably made “before they started gnashing their teeth.”

While he expects the company to blame Connecticut, Godfrey said doing so was “kind of childish, in my opinion.”

“Interestingly enough, they’re now moving to a place where taxes are higher,” he said. “It’s not called ‘Taxachusetts’ for nothing.”

While some have suggested the company’s decision would probably take into account the state’s long-term liabilities and fiscal stability, Godfrey said he didn’t buy it. “It just doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said. “The state, aside from GE, is taking a good hard look at our pension system.”

Will the move bring repercussions during the next legislative session, which begins Feb. 3?

“There’ll be a lot of noise,” Godfrey said. “But it’ll be more sound and fury than it is, I think, actual changes.”

The Yankee Institute for Public Policy suggested more needed to be done.

“The people of Connecticut have three options,” President Carol Platt Liebau said in a statement. “We can continue to pretend nothing is wrong. We can wallow in despair. Or we can transform our policies so that they welcome employers and increase opportunity for everyone.”

And while Brennan said he hoped that GE’s move would serve as a “wake-up call” at the Capitol to reform state spending, Klarides and Fasano said they aren’t optimistic things will change when the regular 2016 legislative session begins in three weeks.

“I can’t believe the wake-call didn’t happen several years ago,” Klarides said, adding that Malloy and his fellow Democrats in the legislature’s majority “have their heads in the sand.”

Washington Correspondent Ana Radelat contributed to this story.

 

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President Obama Delivers Final SOTU Address


By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama delivered his eighth State of the Union address before a packed House chamber on Tuesday, pushing back on “negative attacks” toward his policies and the typical moniker that comes at the end of an incumbent president’s second term: lame duck.

Obama’s 58-minute speech illuminated his top priorities and challenges for the last seven years. He also honed in on his agenda to fix a broken immigration system, to push climate change and to tackle criminal justice reform, especially gun violence. Also, the Obama administration is aiming to expand the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States.

Recently, the president signed an education bill that he said will “fix some of the challenges of the No Child Left Behind and promises to invest more in early childhood education.” On December 10, 2015, Obama signed into law  a new education reform bill that shifts power from the federal government to the states. Each state will now set the agenda on issues of school performance and accountability. Under the Every Child Achieves Act, local districts will once again have power to determine how to improve troubled schools. In all, the new bill minimizes federal oversight of schools and doesn’t have an ambitous goal for education reform.

Margaret Spellings, who served as former Pesident George Bush’s education secretary from 2005 to 2009, sounded an alarm, saying Obama’s education secretary, Arne Duncan, shephered a bill that removed the consequences to local school districts for failing to meet a federal educational standard or take the pressure off local officials to effectively fix low-performing schools.

Before Obama’s new bill, there was strict federal control on education. Now, the Senate bill nixed most of NCLB’s major accountability provisions.

RELATED: CNN’s State of the Union 2016: Full text

Obama also touted additional achievement, especially his health care bill. To date, six million people have signed up for Obamacare, which was passed in Congress and came into law in March 2010. And nearly 18 million people have gained access to healthcare, Obama said.

He also touted his accomplishments with the economy, climate change and bringing China, one of the world’s largest emission centers, to the table.  America signed a climate change deal at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change last month. The agreement calls for countries to reduce greenhouses emissions. Additionally, White House officials said unemployment was cut in half.

However, Obama signed a bill that aims to cut food stamps by $8.7 billion in the next 10 years. The cut was a part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

“All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done,”  he said.

He did not, however, set the agenda for the 2016 election as other presidents such as Dwight Eisenhower have done in the past. And he was faced with obstruction on many other issues, including Federal and Circuit Court judge appointments. On Monday, his last appointment, Felipe Restrepo of Pennsylvania, became the only the second Circuit Court judge approved in 2015. Restrepo was Obama’s last nominee to be confirmed.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration also said it would join a new push with the United Nations to allow police agencies help respond to terrorism. The Obama administration said Islamic terrorism is less worrying than “homegrown” terror. But reports are finding that domestic terrorism is just as dangerous as foreign terrorism. The Obama administration has issued reports that claim Tea Party groups and nativist groups are possible domestic terrorists.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was one of several guests who personify President Obama’s tenure in office.

While Malloy was with First Lady and Congressman John Larson (D-1) was also joined by a special guest: Geoffrey Tillman, who was wrongfully convicted of a crime and served more than 15 years.

Viewers, for the most part, saw an energetic president who pushed proposals for the coming year ending with a deep resolve that “America is emerging stronger and better.”

The speech was well-received.

According to a CNN poll, 53 percent of viewers had favored the President’s speech, matching the highest rating of his presidency reached following his 2013 address. Only 20 percent of viewers said they had a positive reaction to his speech and 25 percent reported a negative view.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley gave the Republican response, in which she criticized Obama’s policies and critiqued Trump for leading the campaign trail with anger and showmanship.

Haley also cast Obama and his administration in an unflattering light, saying  America “would soon have a chance to turn the page.”

“The President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words,” Haley said.

 House Speaker Paul Ryan also debut as House Speaker alongside Biden.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was designated as the Cabinet member who did not attend the State of the Union address.

Photo Courtesy of VOA.

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