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Legislature Adopts Bipartisan Plan to Close this Year’s Modest Deficit


The General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a bipartisan plan Tuesday afternoon to close most or all of the current year’s budget deficit, immediately shifting the legislature’s focus to a far larger projected shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The House of Representatives voted 127-16 just before 3:45 p.m. to approve the plan, roughly 90 minutes after the Senate adopted it 33-3. Nine Democrats and seven Republicans opposed the plan in the House. One Democrat and two Republicans voted against it in the Senate.

While the legislation eliminates $220 million in red ink in the budget year that ends June 30, it technically doesn’t reduce much larger shortfalls on the immediate horizon. Resources from off-budget accounts and other one-time sources of revenue covered 40 percent of the deficit-mitigation effort, or $87.2 million.

“This is to be celebrated I think for a day, then the hard work of the changes to the 2017 budget will be upon us,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told reporters as the House votes were being tallied.

Most of the remaining $133 million in cuts involved various small reductions applied to programs only for this fiscal year. Still, some legislators said many of those cuts will be employed again when the 2016-17 budget is adjusted later this spring.

Lawmakers expect hospital funds to be released

Still, leaders of the Democratic majority and the Republican minority hailed the plan. They argued it closes the current shortfall, mitigates future deficits and should trigger the release of $140 million in payments owed to hospitals that the Malloy administration has withheld in recent months.

“Today’s bipartisan agreement once again demonstrates that Democrats were willing to compromise in a way where we didn’t abandon our principles of protecting our investments in property tax relief, community hospitals, education, transportation and the safety net,” Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk, wrote in a joint statement.

“This bipartisan package will preserve funding for the most vulnerable in the state, protect our towns from painful cuts, restore funding to our hospitals to care for the sick and elderly, and make the appropriate level of cuts to balance the budget and initiate savings for future years,” said Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy watches as the House vote on the deficit-mitigation bill is tallied on the screen.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy watches as the House vote on the deficit-mitigation bill is tallied on the screen.

Gian-Carl Casa, a spokesman for Malloy’s budget office, said the administration is on board with the new deficit-mitigation plan and would release the hospital funds.

But Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, said he’s still worried hospitals might not receive the funds if state finances take another turn for the worse, possibly in late April when state income tax revenues are analyzed again.

“It would be an awful message (to hospitals and their host communities) if the administration did not resume those payments,” Miner said.

Miner asked Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, co-chair of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, if Malloy administration officials had assured her the hospital funds would be released.

“We have not received that,” Walker replied.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities expressed relief that municipal aid wasn’t cut, given the lateness in the fiscal year.

“All spending cuts are difficult, but sparing towns from more mid-year cuts is a evidence of a strong partnership between the state and local governments, and a real recognition of the interdependence of the state-local tax system when setting the tax burden on our residents and businesses,” said Joe DeLong, the group’s executive director.

New plan replaces Malloy’s emergency cuts

The deficit-mitigation plan legislators were expected to adopt Tuesday would replace reductions the governor ordered unilaterally March 16.

Most of the reductions in the legislators’ plan involve small cuts spread across most segments of the state budget. But like past mitigation efforts, they fell disproportionately on social services and higher education — two areas where spending is not locked in tightly by contract.

Still, the legislators’ plan significantly reduced cuts Malloy made earlier this month to social service agencies, particularly those serving people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and people with mental health or addiction issues.

While Malloy cut $17.2 million from the Department of Developmental Services, the legislative plan would cut $3.4 million. The legislative plan would not cut any funding from employment opportunities or day services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (Malloy had cut $4.6 million), and reduced Malloy’s $9.7 million cut to community residential services to $900,000.

However, the legislators’ plan would increase the projected savings from the department’s salary account from $1.5 million under Malloy’s cut to $2 million.

The deficit-mitigation plan would cut $2.2 million from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, restoring nearly $5 million from Malloy’s mid-March cut. A $1.9 million cut Malloy made to grants for mental health and substance abuse treatment providers was reduced to $163,131 as part of the legislative plan.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford would see a $350,000 reduction under the plan, compared to a $730,275 cut Malloy issued March 16. The Hartford children’s hospital had been expected to receive more than $14 million from the state this fiscal year.

The deal would also reverse a nearly $4 million cut in state and federal funding to community health centers, made as part of Malloy’s March 16 cuts.

A cut to the state’s nearly $2.5 billion Medicaid account comes from a re-estimation of expenses in the program this fiscal year, rather than any policy changes aimed at cutting costs.

The state’s public universities and colleges were also cut; the University of Connecticut by $4.73 million and the four regional Connecticut State Universities and community colleges by  $1.6 million. Officials at each of those college systems have both implemented strict hiring controls to reduce costs.

Funding for education was hit $9.2 million. Those cuts will come from the state-run vocational-technical high school system ($2 million), low-achieving schools that are part of the Commissioner’s Network ($1.1 million) and charter schools not enrolling as many students as originally budgeted ($1 million).

Programs that offer child care and early education were cut by $2.7 million, which will be absorbed primarily by not filing spots as they become vacant.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz talk to reporters shortly before the House convened.

Mark Pazniokas / CTMirror.org

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz talk to reporters shortly before the House convened.

Sen. Danté Bartolomeo, the co-chair of the committees that oversee higher education and the state’s child welfare agency, the sole Democrat to vote against opposed the budget fix in the Senate, spoke out against cuts that would affect the homeless, abused and neglected children, college students and disabled residents.

“They have been cut and cut and cut,” Bartolomeo said on the Senate floor. “There are options that I would prefer.”

Those options included retreating from big Democratic initiatives passed last year to dedicate sales tax receipts for transportation and municipal aid.

“We thought we could protect our safety net and afford these initiatives,” she said. “In order to afford this new spending, services to people are being eliminated. So funding these new initiatives means funneling 1 percent of the sales tax revenue away from the General Fund… I cannot cut life-sustaining services to my constituents in order to pay for new initiatives in a time that I do not believe we can afford them.”

Malloy told reporters that he thinks the safety net has not been shredded by these cuts.

“I think we struggle to support our safety net on a constant basis and I think that we are doing a pretty go job of that, for instance with respect to rescissions made and cuts made in special session,” he said. “We have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect the safety net and we’ll continue to do that.”

House leaders embrace plan as well

House Democratic and Republican leaders also held a joint press conference around mid-day on Tuesday to emphasize the bipartisan approach to the current-year deficit, but House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, warned plenty of fiscal issues still divide the parties as they try to reach an agreement on how to solve a bigger shortfall in next year’s budget.

“You’ve heard us stand up, both sides of the aisle, and talk about how we don’t agree with this or we don’t agree with that. And there’s certainly more of that to come. Don’t be disappointed,” Klarides said. “Listen, we’re in a very difficult situation. We have different opinions and thoughts on how to handle it, and I ‘m sure there’ll be more disagreements to come, but I certainly hope there are more days like today.“

More budget solutions needed

House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, and Klarides each said agreeing on a deficit-mitigation plan was easy compared to the task ahead.

They acknowledged that the plan, which relies on budget revisions that are one-time savings, does little to lower the projected shortfall next year.

“This package does not have a lot of that in it,” Sharkey said.

“There’s much bigger fish to fry going forward, Klarides said.

The bipartisan plan did not incorporate some controversial reductions that Republicans and Democrats had proposed including:

  • Furlough days for state employees, which could not have been implemented without negotiations with worker unions.
  • A $16.7 million reduction in municipal aid.
  • And a 10 percent salary cut for all legislators.

Fasano said he still believes a legislative pay cut is important.

Republican lawmakers were the first to call for major restructuring of worker benefits and other labor costs, and the minority leader said Connecticut leaders cannot coax workers to the table if they don’t set the right example.

“That’s the reason we put it out there,” Fasano said.“But we couldn’t find a consensus for that idea” in negotiations with Democratic legislators.

“We’re going to be in big trouble,” in future years, Fasano said during the Senate debate in which he urged lawmakers to find ways to restructure labor costs. “This is not enough.”

The state’s chief business lobby, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, thanked legislators for their efforts, but said they need to reduce spending more now given the huge deficits to come.

“Specifically we need to adopt structural spending reforms that could bring about more effective programs and do so more efficiently, said Bonnie Stewart, CBIA’s general counsel. “This year, it was said by many people that tough choices need to be made, and unfortunately, that’s true. What’s also true, though is that those decisions need to be made this year to show that Connecticut is taking our fiscal situation seriously and that Connecticut is a place in which to invest.”

Tuesday’s votes may not even have closed the entire deficit for this fiscal year.

While the Malloy administration estimated the shortfall at $220 million, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis says it is slightly larger at $247 million.

Photos Courtesy of The Hartford Courant and CT Mirror

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Malloy Postpones Raises for 1,600 State Agency Managers


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WASHINGTON — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy postponed raises Thursday for about 1,600 non-union managers, saving more than $5 million this year – an opening, cost-cutting salvo on the eve of bipartisan negotiations to stabilize state finances.

The governor, who will begin talks Monday with legislative leaders to close an estimated $118 million deficit in this year’s budget – and to begin mitigating a larger shortfall after the next state election – also directed agency heads to intensify efforts to identify services that are not core government functions and therefore could be cut.

Malloy’s office didn’t release any statement about the directives.

But according to a memorandum from his budget chief, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, cost-of-living and merit raises due next month for non-union managers are deferred “until at least January 1, 2016.” The directive does not affect $1.4 million in raises awarded in December 2014 to 200 appointees of Malloy and other constitutional officers.

The governor and the legislature had included about $5.1 million in this fiscal year’s budget to provide raises starting in mid-November for about 1,600 departmental and agency managers.

This included a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and merit pay hikes averaging about 1.5 percent, for a total average increase of about 4.5 percent.

“Because of the scale of the problem we face, we need to make every effort to ensure that we are able to realize savings,” Barnes wrote to commissioners.

The governor’s budget director also asked agency heads to continue several efforts that have been in effect throughout the fiscal year – and for much of the past five years, including:

  • Deferring all spending possible “without impacting health and public safety.”
  • Restricting overtime, hiring and other staffing costs whenever possible.

Barnes also tasked each department with reviewing all services it currently provides “with an eye toward identifying what activities are core government functions and what are not. We must acknowledge that our budget reality today demands that we consider reducing or eliminating some non-core services.”

Malloy announced on Monday that weaker-than-anticipated state income tax receipts have opened a $118 million hole in the budget. That represents a relatively modest two-thirds of 1 percent of the general fund, which covers the bulk of the state’s annual operating costs.

But there are other causes for concern.

This is the second deficit Malloy has reported since the fiscal year began on July 1.

In mid-September, the governor reported a $103 million shortfall – also attributed to weak income tax receipts – and closed that gap largely with emergency cuts to hospitals and social services. Legislators from both parties have since objected to those cuts and pledged to find alternative spending reductions.

Also, the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis says state finances, unless adjusted, are on pace to run much deeper in the red – about $927 million – in 2017-18, the first fiscal year after the November 2016 state elections.

And if the income tax revenue erosion trends identified this fall project out into the next few years – as they traditionally do – the post-election shortfall swells to about $1.1 billion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lembo Says Wall Street, Other Factors, Could Strain Budget


HARTFORD — Though the new state budget is just two months old, Connecticut’s chief fiscal watchdog already is warning about several problems that could push state finances into the red.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo warned that not only unstable financial markets, but also aggressive savings targets and revenue from new keno gaming all increase the budgetary uncertainty.

Lembo officially certified Tuesday that this fiscal year’s general fund – which covers the bulk of operating costs in the $19.8 billion overall budget – is on pace to finish $800,000 in the black.

This is the fiscal cushion built into the budget by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the legislature, and an official projection that matches the budget’s bottom line is common during the first two months of the fiscal year, which began on July 1.

But there already are signs that keeping the budget in balance will be a challenge, according to the comptroller, starting with the recent market correction on Wall Street.

“The current volatility in the financial markets has also complicated the budget outlook for Fiscal Year 2016,” the comptroller said. “Over the past several years, the state has experienced significant fluctuations in capital gains-related receipts.”

State government’s single-largest source of revenue, the personal income tax, is expected to raise $9.7 billion this fiscal year. About 40 percent of those receipts come from returns filed quarterly – much of which involves capital gains, dividends and other investment-related income.

thumb_connecticut-budget-update1Unlike income tax receipts from paycheck withholding, investment-related payments traditionally fluctuate greatly from year to year, with the annual percentage change often stretching into double digits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the leading indicator of the health of blue-chip stocks, suffered its first 10 percent correction since 2010 in August.

“Its important to remember that the stock market is not the economy,” Malloy’s budget director, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, said Tuesday. “Unemployment is down, and Connecticut’s economy continues to strengthen.  Nevertheless, we do partly depend on taxes based on capital gains to support state government in Connecticut.  We will monitor our revenues closely and take action to keep the budget in balance as needed.”

Lembo noted that in late 2012, investors took significant capital gains to take advantage of an expiring 15 percent rate within the federal income tax. But while Connecticut experienced a one-time surge in state income tax receipts because of that in 2013, it was more than offset by a sharp drop one year later as investor confidence remained somewhat shaken.

And the comptroller added that Connecticut didn’t meet its goal last fiscal year for investment-related income tax receipts.

“It remains to be seen if the increase in gains related to sales will help to mitigate the negative impact of the present market decline,” Lembo said.

The situation on Wall Street isn’t the comptroller’s only concern with this year’s budget.

Every budget includes built-in savings targets that agencies must achieve throughout the year. But this budget relies on almost $190 million in agency savings – about $30 million more than last year’s budget.

Lembo also cited a new revenue component in the budget – the launch of keno at many Connecticut bars and restaurants. This game, which is expected to begin around January, is expected to raise $13.6 million.

These and other revenue assumptions need to be monitored closely, he said, adding that “undoubtedly, revenues will be adjusted in future months as trends become better defined.”

The comptroller is expected to close the books later this month on the 2014-15 fiscal year, a budget that is on pace to feature the first deficit of Malloy’s administration, albeit a small one.

The last projection from both the governor’s budget staff and from Lembo placed that likely shortfall at $70.9 million, or just under one-half of 1 percent of the general fund.

The legislature already has determined that any 2015 deficit will be closed by drawing on the emergency reserve – commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund – which currently holds about $520 million.

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CT Passes Law to Strengthen Voting Process


By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Connecticut voters can now have more confidence in the voting process.

That’s because a new law will help enhance the voting process, state officials said on Wednesday after the General Assembly passed a Senate Bill: “An Act Strengthening Connecticut Elections.”

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill joined the Registrars of Voters Association of Connecticut  in praising Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s signing the bill into law.

Officials said the law will establish qualification standards and certification for all Registrars of Voters. It will also establish qualification standards and certification for Registrars, require training and remove Registrars from office if they are found to be “in extreme cases of negligence or dereliction of duty,” according to a press release.

Officials said the bill also improves the speed of collecting election results and permits local election officials to use the online voter registration system to enroll new voters through Election Day Registration.  It also authorizes an automated system to reduce the expense and time spent on post-election audits.  

“This is a very good day for Connecticut voters, because now our elections can be managed even better at the local level,” said  Merrill, Connecticut’s chief elections official.  “I thank Governor Malloy for having the vision to enact this new law that will greatly improve elections for Connecticut voters. 

Melissa Russell, president of ROVAC, said, “Registrars of Voters across the state welcome this legislation as a leap forward in giving elections administrators the tools and technology needed to improve and enhance Connecticut’s elections. ROVAC has long worked for technological improvements in reporting results and conducting post-election audits, and further educational and training opportunities are a core principal of our organization.”

In addition to introducing new accountability measures, the new law also quickens election results reporting by separating results from other statistics that often take longer to gather and report. 

The law also “unifies voter registration deadlines” to one week prior to Election Day, and it permits local election officials to use the online voter registration system to enroll residents who are participating in Election Day Registration.

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State Officials: Hurricane Season Begins June 1


Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  June 1 will mark the 2015 Atlantic Hurricane season.

As a result, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a press release reminds residents to be prepared for severe weather that may impact the state.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 with most of the threat period for the state occurring between mid-August and mid-October.

“As we have experienced, it only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to make landfall to have a devastating impact on our state,” Malloy said.  “Now is the time to prepare.  I urge residents to take three simple preparedness steps: Get a kit, make a plan, and stay informed. These three steps will allow you to become more resilient to any storm or emergency you may face.”
State officials said the potential risks to the community includes storm surge, flooding, road or bridge closures.
 “If a storm is approaching your area, carefully monitor weather reports and follow all of the instructions provided by public safety officials,”Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora B. Schriro said.
Connecticut residents can subscribe to get alert messages by going to www.ct.gov/ctalert to register.

 

 

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Commission to Vote on Tech School Expansion


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy recently  announced that the State Bond Commission on Wednesday will vote to approve $5 million for the continued expansion of the Connecticut Technical High School System’s  manufacturing programs, as well as funds for a new extended-hours program.

The State Bond Commission is scheduled to vote on the items at its Nov. 19, 2014, meeting at 10:30 a.m. in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

The governor said that this funding will help students to be  “better prepared for careers or to continue their studies in college as a result of these improvements.

State offificials said that the funds are requested to finance installation of equipment and machinery, alterations and improvements to buildings and computer and technology upgrades.

“Students in our manufacturing cluster receive the technical skills and training necessary to operate complex machines and produce high-quality products,” said CTHSS Superintendent Dr. Nivea Torres.  “Today’s manufacturing jobs require specialized computer training and Connecticut’s educational system is prepared to train young people to enter this exciting field.”

The technical system has 17 diploma-granting techinical high schools, one techical education center and two aviation maintaenance programs in the state.

Also, $434,000 is sought for extending school hours at A.I. Prince Tech in Hartford and Eli Whitney Tech in Hamden to “allow expansion of weatherization, carpentry, gas pipeline, cement masonry, and manufacturing programs,” officials said.

 

 

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CT Lawsuit Against Malloy Set for Oral Argument


HARTFORD  —  Three Connecticut parents recently sued Gov. Dan Malloy and other state officials to stop a union leader from serving on the State
Board of Education.

The group, Connecticut Parents Union, on Monday will head to Hartford Superior Court for oral  arguments.

The parents seek the removal of Erin D. Benham, President of the Meriden  Federation of Teachers and Executive Committee Vice President of the
Connecticut American Federation of Teachers to the State Board of Education. The group said she can either serve as a union official or a public official, but not both.

“Classroom teachers have the best interest of kids at heart. Union leaders start to forget that. They focus on protecting the union instead
of teachers and children,” plaintiff Gwen Samuel said. “I’m not anti-good teacher, I’m anti-bad teacher, and the unions don’t know the
difference.”

Gwen and the other plaintiffs will be available for interview at the courthouse after oral arguments at approximately 11:30 a.m.

The lawsuit HHD-CV14-5038194-S SAMUEL, GWENDOLYN Et Al v. MALLOY, DANNEL P. Et Al, alleges that the appointment of the AFT Connecticut local president is clearly a conflict of interest and raises questions  about a quid pro quo for the teachers union’s contributions to Malloy’s re-election campaign. According to the complaint, before the appointment, the teachers union contributed $10,000 to Malloy’s campaign via the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee and $250,000 to support Malloy through the Connecticut Forward  Super PAC.

For more information visit:

http://civilinquiry.jud.ct.gov/CaseDetail/PublicCaseDetail.aspx?DocketNo=HHDCV145038194S

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Early Quinnipiac Poll Shows Malloy and Foley in Tight 2014 Race for Governor


By Eugene Joh, Staff Writer

HARTFORD —  A slight majority of voters approve of the way Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is currently handling his job, but do not think he deserves reelection, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll. The study, conducted between May 1 and 6, surveyed 1,668 registered voters in the state.

tomfoley concedesThe poll shows that 48 percent of respondents said that they approve of Malloy’s performance, against 46 percent who said they disapproved. When asked about whether or not Malloy deserved a second term, however, only 44 percent were in favor of his reelection. And 48 percent were against putting him back in office.

The news comes at a troubling time for Malloy, who looks to gain ground against familiar foe Tom Foley (R) in the 2014 gubernatorial race in November. Last week’s poll numbers also indicated that Malloy and Foley are deadlocked at 43 percent each heading into the most intense months of the campaign trail.

Four years ago, Malloy narrowly defeated Foley in the gubernatorial race by a margin of less than 1 percent, edging the race with about 6,500 more votes than his opponent. Early indications are that this year may provide a similarly close contest.

“It’s déjà vu all over again,” Douglas Schwartz, the director of the poll, said in a statement. “…Malloy and Foley remain locked in a dead heat,” he said.

Opinions of Malloy as an individual were almost even among those surveyed, with 46 percent saying their opinion is favorable and 45 percent saying it is unfavorable. Foley holds a better ratio with 36 percent favorable to 23 percent unfavorable, but the largest majority, 39 percent, said they haven’t heard enough about him, something that will likely change in the coming months.

The poll indicates a 35-53 majority disapprove of Malloy’s handling of the state budget, to go along with a 32-61 mark for taxes and a 38-55 mark for jobs and the economy. 45 percent of respondents who disapproved of Malloy in the poll said their main reason for disapproval was the budget, taxes, or jobs/economy. Conversely, just 14 percent of respondents who approved of Malloy said the main reason for their approval had to do with those three issues.

“Economic issues are dragging Gov. Malloy down,” Schwartz said. “A bright spot for Malloy is that voters think he has strong leadership qualities and is honest and trustworthy.”

The only decisive section of the poll for Malloy was when respondents were asked about his character. A 59-36 majority in the poll said that Malloy has strong leadership skills, while a 57-33 majority said they believe he is honest and trustworthy.

The poll indicates that Foley is the clear frontrunner in the Republican Party, holding a 39-9 advantage over his next closest competitor Mark Boughton. Leading up to primaries, Foley and Malloy seem poised for a sequel to their dramatic 2010 race for governor, with public opinion looking to be as indecisive as ever.

Tom Foley conceding his defeat in the 2008 gubernatorial election. Quinnipiac Poll shows it’s déjà vu.

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Malloy Discusses More Consolidations, Possible Job Growth, From Davos


By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans Friday for a second round of agency consolidations, including combining oversight for the University of Connecticut, its health center and the chief medical examiner’s office.

Malloy, who discussed the proposed changes during his noon conference call from Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum, will ask the legislature next month to combine 15 departments and agencies into seven.

The governor also said he faced “another jam-packed day” at the conference, including discussions with one company considering a major expansion that would add 1,000 new jobs in the state.

“I can’t elaborate,” he said. But “it was a definitive and detailed discussion about that possibility” of expanding here.

“Last year we began the work of changing how the state does business — making government smaller, less costly and easier to navigate,” Malloy said. “Like companies and families across the state and the country, state government must do more with less. This session we are continuing the effort to ensure government is working as efficiently as possible.”

Malloy said the UConn merger was a natural fit, particularly given that the chief medical examiner’s office is located on the Farmington campus of the UConn health center. “There’s a lot of interaction,” the governor said. “They’re on that campus.”

Other proposals include merging:

 

  • The Administrative Services and Construction Services departments;
  • The Office of Protection and Advocacy and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities;
  • The Comptroller’s office and the Teacher’s Retirement Board;
  • The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Psychiatric Security Review Board;
  • The Labor Department and the Workers’ Compensation Commission;
  • And the state’s Health & Education Facilities and Higher Education Supplemental Loan authorities.

 

Malloy said there would be relatively little in terms of position cuts, and budgetary savings, in 2012-13, the first fiscal year the mergers would take effect under his proposal.

“Most of the people in these particular areas — not all — fall under the no-layoff-clause,” the governor said, referring to the concessions deal his office negotiated and state employee unions and the legislature approved last year.

In exchange for a two-year wage freeze, new restrictions on health care and retirement benefits, and savings from other changes, the administration agreed to exempt most bargaining units from layoffs for four fiscal years, through 2013-14.

No specific cost-savings projections were released Friday. But the administration is watching for opportunities to trim positions further through attrition, and the governor said he expects those mergers will yield additional savings in future years.

Malloy added that while he didn’t expect to propose further concessions in his next budget plan, “I don’t want to rule it out.”

The governor and legislature agreed on a plan last spring for a net reduction of 22 departments and agencies, from 81 to 59. Technically, the new budget removed 27 entities via consolidation, but it also created five new ones, eliminating a net total of nearly 70 positions at that time.

One of the biggest consolidations involved the merger of nine watchdog agencies — covering ethics, elections enforcement, right-to-know laws, clean contracting, oversight of child welfare services and others — into the new Office of Governmental Accountability.

Other major changes merged the departments of Public Utility Control and Environmental Protection; put the Department of Information Technology and some functions of the Department of Public Works into the Department of Administrative Services; and merged the Connecticut State University System, the community colleges and Charter Oak State College into the Board of Regents for Higher Education.

In referred to his discussions with businesses, Malloy said his administration has been in various stages of talks with more than 20 companies that potentially could qualify for “substantial benefits” under existing state programs designed to assist companies prepared to create new jobs.

“I have concrete offers that I have received at Davos,” the governor said, quickly noting that in some cases it can take months or even years of talks before any deal is struck.

Other highlights of the governor’s day included a breakfast with the leader of Swiss banking giant UBS. Besides a enjoying “robust discussion about challenges for businesses in the United States,” Malloy said he also was questioned by European business and political leaders who are worried about the current gridlock on Capitol Hill.

They want to know “if our politics are permanently broken or if this is a temporary malady,” he said.

This story originally appeared at www.CTMirror.org.

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Malloy Continues ‘Jobs Tour’ in Hartford


HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro Segarra will join Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Monday on a ‘jobs tour’ stop in the Blue Hills section of Hartford.

Both men will visit the staff of the New England Assistive Technology Center at Oak Hill in Hartford at 1 p.m.

Oak Hill is a private non-profit corporation that is the largest private provider of services to people with disabilities in Connecticut.

They have over 1,400 employees throughout the state and provide community based residential care, day programs, assistive technology, supported work, training to work with people with disabilities, an equipment restoration center, and a fully licensed school and pre-school for children with disabilities.

The Governor’s “Jobs Tour” was coordinated by the CT Department of Economic and Community Development.

NEAT is located at Holcomb and Coventry Streets in the Blue Hills neighborhood.

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