Yearly Archives: 2010

More early retirement perks? Malloy says ‘I wouldn’t hold my breath.’

State government has a history of offering early retirement incentives to get out of its fiscal messes, but that’s not a lock to happen in 2011 if Gov.-elect Dan Malloy’s comments Tuesday were any indication. Asked about recent comments from state legislators that more retirement incentives could be on tap after he takes office in January, Malloy, while cautious not to rule anything out, made it clear they aren’t his preference. “I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one,” he said. The governor-elect was critical during the past fall’s campaign of the fiscal gimmicks employed both by Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the last legislature to balance state finances without tax hikes or spending cuts. Malloy stands to inherit a $3.67 billion shortfall built into the next state budget, a gap equal to nearly one-fifth of all current spending. Continue Reading →

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Malloy reappoints Pitkin as banking commissioner

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy reappointed state Banking Commissioner Howard Pitkin on Tuesday to serve in his administration. A 30-year veteran of the Department of Banking, Pitkin has lead the agency for the past five years. “Howard Pitkin has had a long, successful tenure … and I’ve been impressed with his leadership since becoming commissioner five years ago,” Malloy said. “The Connecticut Department of Banking will play a large part in our state’s economic recovery and I’m pleased he will continue in this role.” Continue Reading →

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Over 25% of children under 20 have long-term prescriptions

More than a quarter of kids and teenagers take prescription medications on a chronic basis–and nearly 7 percent are on two or more such drugs, Anna Wilde Mathews reports at the Wall Street Journal. Many of the medications are prescribed to treat conditions that are well known to be increasingly prevalent in children, including asthma and ADHD. But others are generally considered to be mainly for adults, such as statins, diabetes pills and sleep drugs. More than 5 million children take prescription drugs to treat hypertension. Researchers say one reason for the growth in prescriptions for children is unhealthy diets and lack of exercise. Continue Reading →

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No more ‘attaboys’ from Congress

WASHINGTON–When the University of Connecticut’s Huskies won the 2010 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament earlier this year, Rep. Joe Courtney made sure the team’s triumph didn’t go unnoticed in Washington. The basketball team “stands as a history-making organization, with 78 straight wins,” Courtney, a 2nd District Democrat, said in a speech on the House floor in April. “They’re now only 9 wins short of catching the record by the UCLA men’s basketball team… back in the 1960s.” Courtney closed his remarks by urging his colleagues to approve a House resolution he’d sponsored congratulating the Huskies on their victory –a measure that sailed through the chamber by a voice vote. Continue Reading →

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Keeping the ‘volunteer safety net’ healthy

Dennis Hayes came home from the hospital on Christmas Day 2006 with a new stent in his heart, more than $50,000 in medical bills, and no health insurance to cover them. As he recovered from his heart attack, Hayes wondered what follow-up care he really needed, and what he could afford. Dennis Hayes
“I’m saying to myself, OK, what medications do I really, really need?” he said. Four years later, Hayes does not ration his prescriptions or doctor visits, and his diabetes and hypertension are under control. Continue Reading →

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Is Malloy election a harbinger of national death penalty decline?

The election of anti-death penalty candidate Dan Malloy in the midst of the gruesome Cheshire home invasion trials is “just one of the many indications that capital punishment is on the wane” nationwide, Steve Chapman says at the Chicago Tribune. Among other factors contributing to the decline of the death penalty, he says, is the cost. One authority says executions have become “an extreme luxury item” for cash-strapped states. One recent study found that New Jersey taxpayers spent $250 million over 23 years for a capital punishment system that executed no one; the state has since repealed it. Continue Reading →

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Outdoor furnaces facing possible ban

Connecticut is a state looking for renewable energy sources, where wood is in abundant supply. But one method of heating with renewable fuel, outdoor wood furnaces, could be all but banned under terms of a bill to be introduced next General Assembly session. State Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Environment Committee, said he has received so many complaints about the units, which resemble small metal sheds with round stacks, that he will introduce a bill to outlaw them for everyone but farmers. “I was getting messages from homeowners who were extremely concerned about smoke that was coming into their homes from wood burning furnaces,” Meyer said. The furnaces currently are banned by local regulation in 14 towns. Continue Reading →

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Blumenthal rounds out staff with Christmas Eve announcement

Richard Kehoe, who was Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s special counsel and liaison at the State Capitol, will be following Blumenthal from the AG’s office to the U.S. Senate, serving as the new senator’s state director. Kehoe, who also is a town council member in East Hartford, was one of several staffers named Friday. Maura Downes, a former aide in the A.G.’s office and on his campaign, will be the director of constituent services, based in Connecticut. His D.C. press staff will be Ty Matsdorf and Kate Hansen. Matsdorf will be communications director; Hansen will be press secretary. Matsdorf worked on Blumenthal’s campaign, as did Hansen, albeit indirectly. Continue Reading →

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Report finds DOT struggling to finish projects on time and under budget

The state Department of Transportation has increasing difficulty completing projects on time and under budget, needs to improve communication with environmental protection staff and lacks any systemic way to measure its goals, according to a new report from the General Assembly’s chief investigative panel. But the Program Review and Investigations Committee report also concluded that the department has made some progress toward its primary mission of maintaining the transportation network, despite limitations in terms of both staffing and funding. “Much of what drives the indicators (of successful work) is beyond the control of DOT or any single state agency,” program review staff wrote in a recent report to the committee, adding that the department’s overall efforts to fulfill its mission have produced “mixed” results. The department required an average of 1,918 days, or 5.3 years, to complete the projects it wrapped up between 2001 and 2010, with just 37 percent of the work finished on schedule. Program review staff analyze projects undertaken by other states between 2001 and 2005 and found an average of 53 percent of the work finished on time. Continue Reading →

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After one education leader quits, Malloy expresses confidence in another

Two days after one top state education official abruptly resigned in the face of signs that Gov-elect Dan Malloy was considering replacing him, Malloy Thursday issued a public statement of confidence in another: Higher Education Commissioner Michael Meotti. “I’ve admired Mike Meotti’s work from afar, and I’m looking forward to working with him more closely,” Malloy said in a statement. Meotti’s contract as the state’s higher education commissioner does not expire until July 2013, so even if Malloy wanted a new commissioner, he held little leverage to do so anytime soon. The decision of who runs the State Department of Higher Education is ultimately up to the 11-member Board of Governors. Malloy will get to appoint three board members during his first year in office. Continue Reading →

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The 111th Congress: Some memorable bills, some botched basics

WASHINGTON–As he walked to the Senate floor to cast his final votes this week, retiring Sen. Chris Dodd remarked that bills that he’d been pushing unsuccessfully for years were suddenly flying through to final passage in the waning days of this Congress. A food allergy measure. A child abuse prevention bill. A low-income housing proposal. All are now headed to the White House for the president’s signature. Continue Reading →

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State expecting more heating aid money, but could still face a shortfall

State officials are now expecting Connecticut to receive $44.2 million more than initially projected for low-income energy assistance–enough to break an end-of-year stalemate between Gov. M. Jodi Rell and the legislature over funding for the program, but perhaps not enough to carry it through the winter. The money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was included in a continuing budget resolution passed by the lame duck Congress and signed Wednesday by President Obama. Word of the funding was welcome news to the Rell administration, which had been expecting the federal government to provide $44.2 million less than last year’s $96.9 million for the block grant that helps low-income residents pay for heating and other energy bills. Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not yet announced how much money each state will receive, the continuing resolution calls for states to receive the same amount of LIHEAP funding through March 4 as they did last fiscal year. For Connecticut, that would be $96.9 million. Continue Reading →

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Malloy reappoints Rehmer to lead DMHAS

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy has reappointed Patricia Rehmer to serve as commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, a post she has held since last year. Patricia Rehmer
Rehmer joined the agency in 1999 and served as deputy commissioner from 2004 to 2009. A nurse by training, Rehmer has also worked at the Institute of Living and served as CEO of the Capitol Region Mental Health Center. “Commissioner Rehmer has been a leader in the fields of mental health and addiction services throughout her career, and I’m pleased that she and I will be working together to help those citizens in Connecticut who need our help the most,” Malloy said in a statement released by his transition team. “Particularly because the population she serves relies on the continuity of service and programs DMHAS provides, I’m glad that she and I have a shared vision for the department and will continue her tenure uninterrupted.” Continue Reading →

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Malloy adds Blumenthal aide to legal team

Gov.-elect Dan Malloy tapped a longtime assistant attorney general, Anthony Jannotta, to join his legal team on Thursday. Jannotta, who will work under Malloy’s general counsel, Andrew J. McDonald, has spent the past decade-and-a-half working for Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. “Anthony Jannotta is well respected in Connecticut’s legal community, and someone who has significant experience advocating on behalf of the state’s citizens,” Malloy said. “Anthony has been a public servant for over 15 years, and I’m glad he’s agreed to continue that service in my office.” For the past seven years, Jannotta served on Blumenthal’s executive staff. Continue Reading →

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McCluskey to leave House for parole board

Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, is joining the exodus of legislators headed to the executive branch. Gov.-elect Dan Malloy today named McCluskey, a supporter who served on his campaign policy team, to the Board of Pardons and Paroles. His departure will force a special election in a district that primarily covers the Elmwood section of West Hartford. “David has been a committed public servant for a long time, and I appreciate his willingness to continue that service as a member of the Board of Pardons and Paroles,” Malloy said in a statement emailed to reporters today. “Representative McCluskey will walk a fine line in this new role, ultimately making decisions that will help keep the people of the State of Connecticut safe, while allowing those people who have served their time to become a contributing member of society. Continue Reading →

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