Monthly Archives: July 2010

Race to the Top loss a Call to Action

This past Tuesday we learned that Connecticut was once again shut out of the federal Race to the Top competition. While this news was disappointing, it was not wholly surprising – we were starting from way behind, and as much progress as Connecticut made with its reform legislation this year, we already knew that a number of states had pushed further with their own reforms.
Now that we are out of the running, some are tempted to offer up sour grapes, questioning the fairness of the competition, or even the premise of competitive federal funding itself. This is misguided; we lost this competition fair and square. Indeed, although Connecticut is not a finalist for Race to the Top dollars, the reforms enacted during the past legislative session are hardly for naught. The legislature took important steps to ensure that teachers’ evaluations would be tied to their students’ performance and to give great teachers the opportunity to become principals without jumping through unnecessary hoops. Continue Reading →

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Despite veto threat, lawmakers send bill increasing campaign grants to governor

State lawmakers defied a veto threat by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and voted Friday to double to $6 million the general-election grant for gubernatorial candidates participating in the state’s public financing program. The bill passed the Senate and House with fewer votes than would be needed to override a veto, but there were enough absences in both chambers to possibly make up the difference when Rell follows through on her warning. “What is the Legislature thinking?” Rell said in a statement. “They have taken a program that was intended to remove the taint of special interests and corruption from political campaigns and turned it into a welfare program for politicians. Continue Reading →

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Senate votes to increase campaign grants for gubernatorial races

The Senate voted tonight in special session to double to $6 million the general-election grant for gubernatorial candidates participating in the state’s public financing program. The bill passed 23-12, one vote shy of a veto-proof majority. Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, was absent for the vote. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has promised to veto any proposal that increases base grants for candidates. Lawmakers convened today to amend the Citizens’ Election Program in response to a recent federal appeals court ruling that said providing additional money in to match an opponent’s spending is unconstitutional. Continue Reading →

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Simmons launches last ad of his primary campaign

GLASTONBURY–Rob Simmons Friday launched the second and last television ad of his recently revived campaign for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, a 30-second spot extolling public service and including an implicit jab at his principal opponent, Linda McMahon. Simmons had stopped campaigning and dismissed his staff in May after losing the Republican endorsement to McMahon. He re-entered the contest last week with an ad announcing, “I’m still on the ballot.” Neither ad mentions McMahon or his other GOP rival, Peter Schiff. Speaking at a Glastonbury American Legion hall Friday, Simmons emphasized the positive tone of the new ad. Continue Reading →

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Jarjura takes hits in race for comptroller

The Democratic race for comptroller continued along its rocky path Friday, with Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura on the receiving end of three hits. First, a YouTube video surfaced of the Democrat speaking at a Tea Party rally. “We needed a spark, and you’re the spark that is going to be the change. So don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged because this country is worth fighting for and you’re fighting for it,” Jarjura said at the rally in Waterbury last September. Continue Reading →

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CSU reduces raises for top managers

Connecticut State University officials reduced raises for more than 60 high-ranking managers Friday in response to criticism from Gov. M. Jodi Rell but took no action on Rell’s request to rescind raises for two campus presidents. The managers, including officials at CSU’s four campuses and at system headquarters in Hartford, had been given pay increases of 8 percent in June, raises that Rell called “excessive” and “intolerable” in light of the state’s fiscal crisis. The officials will keep 5 percent cost-of-living increases, but the CSU System Board of Trustees Executive Committee rescinded an additional raise of 3 percent that was considered a “pay equity” adjustment based on a consultant’s compensation study. CSU officials have defended the raises, saying they were part of an effort to keep salaries competitive with those at other universities. Earlier this week, the committee also reduced raises of 10 percent for system Chancellor David G. Carter and the campus presidents – cancelling a 5 percent pay equity adjustment but allowing them to keep a 5 percent cost-of-living increase. Continue Reading →

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The Democrats’ debate will go on–but so will the negative ads

The debate over whether to have a debate is over: Ned Lamont promises to show up at the Rocky Hill studios of WFSB next Tuesday to debate Dan Malloy in the Democratic race for governor. But if Democrats now expect their contenders for an elusive political prize to dial back the negative ads, disappointment awaits. Neither camp is standing down. “It’s not changing anything,” said Roy Occhiogrosso, the media adviser to Malloy. “All it means is [Lamont’s] pretty much waved the white flag of surrender.” Continue Reading →

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Forum organizers try to rein in gubernatorial candidates’ attacks

MANSFIELD – How do you keep six gubernatorial candidates from spending an entire forum attacking each other? Answer: Don’t give them the chance. The Windham Region Chamber of Commerce employed that simple solution Thursday during the first half of a forum held at the Nathan Hale Inn at the University of Connecticut. In an unusual move, the chamber limited candidates’ responses to most questions to 30-seconds, and enforced the deadline with loud and decisive interruptions for those who tried to talk longer. Organizers combined that limited time-frame with a battery of questions covering complex topics from the business climate and transportation to health care, energy, tourism promotion and the state budget crisis. Continue Reading →

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A new option for high-risk uninsured becomes available

People with pre-existing medical conditions can sign up for a new, less expensive health insurance option starting next week–but advocates question how effective it will be in getting coverage for the state’s uninsured. The new plan–a product of the new federal health reform law and $50 million in federal subsidies– will provide essentially the same coverage as the four existing state-run plans, the cost will be less and require a shorter waiting period to cover pre-existing conditions, said Karl Ideman, president of the Connecticut Health Reinsurance Association, which administers the existing high risk plans and will run the new plan that begins accepting applications Monday. “The benefits are substantially the same,” he said. A breakdown of what benefits will and will not be covered, and at what cost, was not immediately available, but state Department of Social Services David Dearborn said a benefits chart will be posted on the DSS website by Sunday. He said the plan will pay 80 percent of costs for covered services provided by in-network doctors, with a deductible of $1,250. Continue Reading →

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Rell: No to more campaign funds

Gov. M. Jodi Rell notified lawmakers Thursday that she will veto any proposal to fix the state’s public campaign finance system if it includes increasing the grant amounts. “At a time we are facing a huge budget deficit, expect to borrow approximately $700 million to pay our expenses for the current fiscal year and shortly will need to make another round of rescissions, we should not be contemplating increasing these grants. How could we possibly explain such an action to our taxpayers?” she wrote. State lawmakers plan to convene Friday to to fix the Citizens’ Election Program, following the recent federal appeals court ruling that said providing additional grant money to publicly-financed candidates up against wealthy self-funded candidates is unconstitutional. Continue Reading →

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Gubernatorial candidates face the lightning round in Storrs

MANSFIELD – Connecticut’s six gubernatorial candidates faced their version of the lightning round during this morning’s forum sponsored by the Windham Region Chamber of Commerce. Given only 30 seconds to answer most questions about economy, transportation, the state budget crisis, energy, tourism, health care and other complex topics, Democrats Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont, Republicans Tom Foley, Michael Fedele and Oz Griebel, and independent Tom Marsh were tested in their ability to deliver the quick sound bite. What’s behind the state’s budget crisis?” “Too many layers of management, too many layers of cronies,” said Lamont. Gubernatorial candidates answer questions at a business forum in Mansfield. Continue Reading →

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Lamont reconsiders, will debate Malloy next week on TV, radio

To defuse the escalating back-and-forth of negative ads in the Democratic race for governor, Ned Lamont said today he has reconsidered and now intends to debate Dan Malloy next week on WFSB, Channel 3 and WNPR radio. “This has gone south fast,” Lamont said of the tone of the campaign for the Democratic nomination, which will be settled in an Aug. 10 primary. Lamont said in a telephone interview that he thinks that a debate Aug. 3 that would be simulcast by Channel 3 and WNPR would be the best way to clear the air, rather than spend the next week responding to ads and counter ads. Continue Reading →

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No love for the Rell record at GOP debate

Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele frequently sparred Thursday night, ignoring the underfunded Oz Griebel during a televised debate of the Republican candidates for governor. But Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell took the most punches as Foley blamed her administration for the fiscal crisis. And Fedele worked from the opening bell to distance himself from his boss. “The lieutenant governor does not have an ability to propose a budget. The governor does. Continue Reading →

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Friday a critical day for public financing

For publicly-financed political candidates facing wealthy self-funders, Friday is a crucial day. State lawmakers are planning to convene then to address the recent federal appellate court ruling barring publicly- funded candidates from being awarded additional money if their opponents’ spending exceeds statutory thresholds. The decision has special significance for the gubernatorial race. Democratic leaders want to raise the total amount available under public financing. Republicans, including Gov. M. Jodi Rell, don’t. Continue Reading →

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State officials anxious as Congress delays on additional aid

WASHINGTON-Congress has squashed hopes for a $10 billion rescue fund to save teacher jobs. Emergency Medicaid funding for the states is teetering on a political cliff. And the talk of extending health insurance subsidies for laid-off workers has gone quiet. As Congress inches toward a five-week August recess without passing any of these funding measures, public officials in Connecticut are growing increasingly jittery about the financial fall-out at home. In Connecticut, the impact would translate into a $376 million budget gap-$266 million in expected Medicaid funds and $110 million in hoped-for education money-an eye-popping sum at a time when the state is already facing difficult fiscal decisions. Continue Reading →

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