Tag Archive | "Gov. Jodi Rell"

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Rite Aid Pharmacy Under Review

HARTFORD — Gov. Jodi Rell announced on Friday that her administration will investigate a possible price increase by Rite Aid Pharmacy.

The  review into a possible increase of prescription drug prices at the pharmacies after the drugstore chain made key changes to its customer Rx Savings discount program by erroneously claiming that the higher prices and reduced benefits were required by a new state law.

“I sincerely hope that Rite Aid is not using a state law – one that is actually designed to provide cost-savings for all its customers – as an excuse to raise prices. If so, it amounts to a modern day bait-and-switch and Rite Aid is not being honest with consumers. I strongly urge Rite Aid to reconsider these changes,” Rell said.

The law in question is Section 17 of Public Act 10-179, which requires Connecticut pharmacies that offer discounts and savings to the general public to provide those same discounts and savings to individuals on Medicaid.  The law was part of the broader budget adjustment legislation passed by the Legislature in May.

Several Rite Aid stores have posted signs indicating that because of the new law Rite Aid “is required to modify the benefits available under the Rx Savings Program,” according to a press release.

“The problem is not the law, the problem is the way Rite Aid is reacting to the law by penalizing customers through changes in its discount program, ostensibly to avoid across-the-board discounts to Medicaid and the general public,” Rell said.

The Governor directed the Department of Social Services to work with the Attorney General’s Office to review the legality of the changes in Rite Aid’s discount program. She’s asked DSS officials to meet with Rite Aid representatives to seek immediate reversal of changes in Rite-Aid’s savings program that negatively affect Connecticut consumers.

Earlier this month, Rell announced that CVS Caremark – which was considering ending its Health Savings Pass pharmacy discount program – informed her that the program will continue. The company’s decision came after the governor wrote company officials in June questioning whether canceling the discount program might be an attempt by CVS to avoid complying with a new state law that requires pharmacies to give patients using taxpayer-funded Medicaid the same savings given to the public.

“Just as I am grateful that CVS opted to join the pharmacies in Connecticut that are participating in this program, I expect that Rite Aid will decide to conform to the spirit and purpose of the law by restoring its pharmacy discounts,” Governor Rell said.

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Rell Calls CSUS Execs Pay Hike “Intolerable”

Pay raises for a few top executives in the Connecticut State University System has caught the attention — and the wrath– of Gov. Jodi Rell.

Ealier this week, Rell call on the Board of Trustees for CSUS to rescind so-called “pay equity” raises that increased salaries by 10 percent or more for the CSUS chancellor and university presidents, including a former president who is on leave and her recently hired interim replacement.

The CSUS Board of Trustees met earlier this month to affirm raises for non-union managerial employees that took effect June 18 and the increases included the third step of “pay equity” program for high-ranking administrators. That resulted in net salary increases of 8 percent for more than two dozen CSUS officials and 10 percent or more for the chancellor and university presidents – including former Southern Connecticut State University President Cheryl Norton and her interim successor.

Rell expressed her disbelief of such a hike, given the economic climate punctuated with job losses in the state.

“Frankly, I am at a loss to understand why, in these difficult times, the trustees would approve salary increases of as much as 8 percent, 10 percent or 10.27 percent for people who are paid between $285,000 and $360,000 a year,” Rell wrote in a letter on Friday to CSU Board of Trustees Chairman Karl J. Krapek. “How can anyone justify these increases to Connecticut’s taxpayers, to our students or to their parents at a time when tens of thousand of jobs have been lost in our state and countless families are struggling to make ends meet?”

Governor Rell asked the CSUS trustees to rescind all “pay equity” increases and to give no pay increase “of any kind” for former SCSU President Norton or her replacement.

The Governor called the increases “intolerable” and noted that the annual financial impact of the salary increases for the chancellor and the university presidents (including former President Norton) alone is $186,702 – the equivalent of tuition and fees for 23 full-time students.

She also noted that the CSU system experienced the largest increase in tuition and fees – 35 percent – over the last five years of the three public higher education systems. CSUS students now pay more than $8,000 compared to $5,936.

As a result, the Governor is:

  • Forming a panel to develop a plan to eliminate the CSUS central office, consolidating the offices of the four campus presidents and achieving other administrative savings. The plan must be submitted to the Legislature and the Governor by December 1;
  • Directing the Office of Policy and Management to work with the Department of Administrative Services to draft legislation that will bring employment functions of all three public higher education systems under the State Personnel Act for more transparency and accountability. The goal is to include all hiring, dismissals, pay and other matters in the CORE-CT system.

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Rell Signs Bill To Extend Foreclosure Mediation Program

WINDSOR LOCKS  — Laura Wilson  is the face of  the state’s foreclosure mediation program touted as a success and now extended for the next two years.

Flanked with Wilson in front of her house, Gov. M. Jodi Rell  today celebrated legislation that extends the the judicial foreclosure mediation program –which allows mandatory mediation. 

The new law, which ended July 1 of this year, was extended to  July 1, 2012.

 “Home is a wonderful word, isn’t it?” Governor Rell said during a bill-signing ceremony at the Windsor Locks home of Laura Wilson, (house pictured) who benefited from the mortgage mediation program. “Generations of Americans can recite the magic words that got Dorothy out of Oz and back to Kansas: ‘There’s no place like home.’ I do not have any ruby slippers with me today – but I do have a pen. And the State of Connecticut has a program that works: foreclosure mediation.

Rell also said the program has been nationally recognized by the American Bar Association and the Center for American Progress. More than 7,100 cases have completed the mediation process through June 2010. Seventy-six percent of those cases have reached agreement and 62 percent – more than 4,400 cases – have allowed the homeowner to remain in their homes, Rell said.

   “Of course those are the statistics,”  Rell said. “Laura Wilson and her family are the faces behind those statistics. And this is their home.”

The legislation – House Bill 5270, An Act Concerning Foreclosure Mediation – also makes changes to the minimum amount that mortgagees or other successors in interest may offer to tenants to vacate a foreclosed residential property, establishing that the amount must be at least $2,000. The act specifies that for purposes of the homestead exemption for judgment debtors, “homestead” includes co-op properties.



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New Law To Aid Children During Recession

HARTFORD — Special help is on the way to children faced with the social economic and psychological impact of the deep recession.

Thanks to a new law signed by Gov.  M. Jodi Rell today.

The new law – House Bill 5360, An Act Concerning Children in the Recession – is a provision that makes, among other things, attending a two- or four-year degree program an acceptable form of work for parents receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the program known colloquially as “food stamps.”

Before, parents with children would lose critical benefits if they enrolled in school full-time.

The bill also creates a broad, multi-agency team to respond to the special needs of children caught up in economic crises like the recent global economic recession, according to a press release today. 

 “With his law, our state becomes the first in the nation to establish a comprehensive system for meeting the needs of children affected by the economic downturn,” Rell said. “We are creating a leadership team of state officials who will put together a unified government response to such problems as hunger and homelessness.”

 Rells goes on to say that the panel is “activated” when employment surpasses 8 percent. The goal is to enhance what she calls critical social services such as food stamps, medical assistance and unemployment.

The bill, Rell says, will also “seek to maximize the amount of federal aid the state receives.”

(In photo: In a July 14 bill signing ceremony in her State Capitol office, Gov. M. Jodi Rell (seated) was joined by members of the Children in the Recession Task Force.  Over the past year, the task force, led by Connecticut Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, held a series of hearings in every area of the state to hear first hand the effect of the recession on the children.)

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Strikers Plan To Rally On Gov’s Doorstep

HARTFORD — Organizers of an ongoing strike say they plan to take the rally this Thursday to the governor–on her doorsteps.

Nursing home workers on strike at four nursing homes operated by Spectrum Healthcare plans to rally Thursday outside the governor’s residence in Hartford, demanding that Gov. Jodi Rell fill a state position designed to investigate and prevent Elder Abuse that has been vacant since Nov. 2009.

At a hearing conducted on June 24 by the legislative committee on Public Health and Human Services, family members and caregivers shared testimony about deteriorating conditions at the Park Place, Birmingham, Laurel Hill and Hilltop Health Centers since 375 nurses, aides and support staff began an Unfair Labor Practice strike on April 15, organizers say.

 At that hearing, workers learned for the first time that the state’s “Elder Abuse” position has been vacant for months since the state implemented its Retirement Incentive Program last year.

The striking health care workers say they will call on  Rell to take action to protect hundreds of residents in the Spectrum homes.

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CT Job Bill Passes With Bipartisan Approval

HARTFORD —   Gov. M. Jodi Rell today celebrated passage of sweeping, bipartisan jobs legislation that offers incentives for employers, supports small business and emerging industries, provides resources for tuition and training, helps manufacturers find efficiencies and includes accountability measures to safeguard state taxpayer dollars.

The bill was the product of cooperative efforts  Rell began in the first leadership meeting of the legislative session, according to a press release today.

 House Bill 5435, An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Majority Leaders Job Growth Roundtable, passed 140-4 in the House and unanimously in the Senate.

“This may very well be the most important bill – other than the budget – we passed all year,” Rell said. “All of us agreed there were really only two priorities this year – the budget and jobs. We passed a budget, on time, for the first time in four years. And today we celebrate the centerpiece of a number of jobs bills that address Issue No. 1 for the people of our state: keeping and growing jobs.

            Highlights of the bill:

  • Provides up to $500,000 in loans and lines of credit for small businesses and nonprofits
  • Sales tax exemption for machinery, supplies and fuel used in renewable energy industries
  • Tax credits and a cap of $200 on insurance premiums for small businesses that create new jobs and/or hire workers with disabilities
  • Loan reimbursement and training grants for education and careers in green technology, life sciences and health information technology
  • Establishes a Community-Technical College advisory board to assess training needs of unemployed residents
  • Authorizes up to $150,000 in pre-seed financing and technical services to businesses developing innovative concepts;
  • Provides 25 percent personal income tax credits for up to $100,000 in angel investments in bioscience, photonics, information technology and green technology businesses
  • Authorizes $1.3 million in bonds for mortgage crisis job training
  • Establishes waste reduction task force to study reducing or eliminating duplicative procedures
  • Expands DECD Commissioner’s duties in technical assistance for exporting, manufacturing and cluster-based initiatives
  • Establishes DECD pilot program helping Connecticut-based small manufacturers implement green technologies and become more efficient
  • Requires OFA to evaluate resources needed to include job impact analyses in fiscal notes and report those findings to the Office of Legislative Management by December 1, 2010

             “I think the best way to describe many of the provisions in this bill is this: They build on our strengths,”  Rell said. “Here is one example: A provision of the bill expands on the work already being done by our community and technical colleges to help people get back to work. These local colleges have been nothing less than heroic during this economic downturn, providing training – and in some cases, retraining – to people in need of skills to find new and productive careers.” Rell said.  “These are the kind of focused investments we need to be making to get people back to work.”

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State Has A Budget, But

HARTFORD — For about six months, state legislators quarreled over the two-year spending plan, only to end today with an uncompromised $38 billion budget without the governor’s signature.

Today, the Gov. Jodi Rell fired off a press release saying she had exercise her line item veto power to remove “earmarks and pork-barrel” spending to what is now known as the Emergency Certified Bill 6802, An Act Concerning Expenditures and Revenue for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2011.

Under the state Constitution, the bill automatically becomes law without the governor’s signature five days after passage.

“I will not veto the entire budget,” Rell said. “However, I will not sign it into law, because I do not believe in this budget. I do not want, by my signature, to put a stamp of approval on their spending….”

Rell has also proposed to veto line items totaling about $8 million. The cuts include neighborhood youth centers in New Haven and Waterbury, a youth substance abuse project in Bridgeport and food pantry assistance in Manchester.

The state was more than two months late with a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

See Rell’s Proposed Cuts Below

BOA Section Agency Description FY10 FY11
58 and 59 OSC Miscellaneous — State Pilot for East Lyme ($100k) and Mansfield ($400k) $500,000 $500,000
40 DMHAS “A nonprofit organization with expertise in primary and secondary substance abuse prevention to build a community-wide, broad-based and inter-institutional approach to substance abuse prevention.” From Pre-Trial Substance Abuse account. $100,000 $100,000
68 DPH AIDS Interfaith Network $100,000
DOC Children of Incarcerated Parents $700,000 $700,000
DOC Distance Learning $250,000 $250,000
29 OPM Neighborhood Youth Centers to Centro San Jose, Hill Cooperative Yough Services, Central YMCA in New Haven and up to $87,000 to Trumbull Gardens in Bridgeport $287,000 $287,000
OPM Neighborhood Youth Centers – up to $50,000 for the Valley Shore YMCA in Westbrook: up to $25,000 for the Rivera Memorial Foundation, Inc. of Waterbury; and up to $25,000 for the Willow Plaza Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Association in Waterbury $100,000 $100,000
69 Ag Urban Oaks Organic Farm from Community Investment Account $50,000 $50,000
69 Ag Seafood Advisory Council from Community Investment Account $47,500 $47,500
69 Ag Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council from Community Investment Account $47,500 $47,500
69 Ag Connecticut Food Policy Council from Community Investment Account $25,000 $25,000
DECD Main Street Initiatives $155,000
505 DECD Apportions $25k of the Main Street Initiative for the Ansonia Nature and Recreation Center $25,000 $25,000
DMHAS Regional Youth/Adult Substance Abuse Project in Bridgeport through the Pre-Trial Substance Abuse account. There is an error in the amendment — this earmark is added twice for a total of $250k each year. LCO is aware of the error. $125,000 $125,000
DSS Manchester Areas Conference of Churches Food Pantry from the Nutrition Assistance account $75,000 $75,000
DSS Fall Prevention $500,000 $500,000
DHE Americorps $500,000 $500,000
SDE Community Plans for Early Childhood $450,000 $450,000
OLM CASE $100,000 $100,000
30 DPH pilot asthma awareness $150,000 $150,000
Total $4,287,000 $4,032,000

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Rell Taps Educator to Lead UCONN

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell selected a longtime educator of Middletown to be Chairman of the University Of Connecticut Board Of Trustees.

Lawrence D. McHugh of Middletown, a longtime President of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce will, be at the top post on the board of trustee,  Rell recently announced in a press release.

“Larry McHugh has been a legendary – and legendarily successful – educator, business leader and community leader in our state for decades,” Rell said. “I am thrilled that he is willing to take on this new challenge”

McHugh,69, was first appointed to the board 26 years ago. He is President of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, a position he has held since 1983. A 1962 graduate of Southern Connecticut State College (now Southern Connecticut State University), McHugh was a high school teacher and highly successful track and football coach for more than two decades, most of them at Xavier High School in Middletown. From 1975 to 1983 he served as Executive Director of M-X Development Corp., the fund-raising office for Mercy and Xavier high schools.

Former Governor O’Neill first appointed him to the CSU Board of Directors in 1982. He has been reappointed by successive Governors, including Governor Rell in 2005. He also serves on a number of other state panels and commissions, including the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission and the Connecticut Commission on Arts, Tourism, Culture, History and Film.

“I am very honored by the confidence Governor Rell has shown in me,” McHugh said. “The years I have spent on the CSU Board have been deeply rewarding and I look forward to the new challenges that are ahead.”

Rell also announced that she is naming Karl J. Krapek of Avon to serve as Chairman of the Connecticut State University System Board of Trustees.  Krapek had been Vice Chair of the CSU Board. He is to replace McHugh at the helm of the CSU Board,” Rell said.

Krapek has held top executive jobs at three of United Technologies Corp.’s business units – Otis Elevator, Carrier and Pratt & Whitney – as well as serving as President and Chief Operating Officer of UTC itself. He joined UTC as Vice President of Operations at Otis Elevator and became President in 1989. He was named Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Carrier in 1990 and became President and CEO of Pratt & Whitney in 1992. He retired as President and COO of UTC in 2002.

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Rell Appoints Stimulus Obudsman

HARTFORD — Gov.  M. Jodi Rell today announced that she is appointing a top Office of Policy and Management official to work closely with municipalities and regional planning organizations to help them expedite their stimulus-funded projects and navigate the regulations and tight deadlines required under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The governor said OPM Undersecretary of Intergovernmental Policy David LeVasseur will serve a stimulus ombudsman to local and regional officials. LeVasseur has overseen the state Office of Responsible Growth since its inception in 2006. The former First Selectman of Killingworth, LeVasseur has an extensive background as a planner and a conservationist.

“David certainly understands the hurdles local governments and planning agencies must deal with on a daily basis,” Rell wrote in a July 13 letter to municipal officials. “As we have discovered, utilizing Recovery Act funds comes with many challenges, and at times, some frustration. In particular, using stimulus money means applying the letter of the federal law in every step of the project. David’s duties will include helping our municipal partners navigate the ARRA requirements and deadlines and provide clarity every step of the way.”

Since President Obama signed the stimulus act into law on February 17, 2009, more than $1 billion in stimulus funds have been committed to projects and initiatives around the state. Additionally, the governor’s staff and other Administration officials have held workshops, informational forums and have briefed numerous interested organizations and municipal representatives to assist them in identifying funding opportunities and understanding ARRA requirements.

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Rell unveils plans to close deficit

HARTFORD — Gov. M. Jodi Rell today delivered a $1.1 billion deficit mitigation plan to the General Assembly that does not call for state employee layoffs or tax increase. It is  her third such plan since November.

Rell unveiled her plan to cut this fiscal year’s $1.1 billion budget deficit, which needs legislative approval.

According to the plan, it will use about $282 million of the state’s $1.4 billion Rainy Day Fund. It also assumes Connecticut will receive nearly $384 million this year from the federal economic stimilus package. The plan also calls for  reductions to health programs for the needy and elderly.

Rell is also proposing expanded hours of alcohol sales at the state’s two Indian casinos and an expanded bottle redemption law to raise more revenue.

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