Monthly Archives: March 2012

A judge’s frustrations lead to proposal, outcry from advocates

One of Hartford Probate Judge Robert K. Killian Jr.’s frequent “customers” is an elderly woman whose mental illness gives her delusions that there are dangerous people living in her cellar. When she’s not taking her medication, she calls police, who come and reassure her. Every few times, they take her to be examined, and she ends up getting committed to a hospital. Killian worries she’ll end up losing her home. Hartford Probate Judge Robert K. Killian Jr. testifies Thursday. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

A teachers’ union and its message

What does the state’s teacher of the year think of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plans to shakeup education? David Bosso’s comments to the governor during a forum in Berlin seemed to be pretty straightforward, but it has sparked a fierce online back-and-forth between the state’s largest teachers union and the administration. The headline to the Connecticut Education Assocation article on its blog reads, “”Teacher of the Year Tells Governor His Plan is Hurting Teacher Morale.” The governor’s communications director quickly shot back on Twitter, “Not accurate, but points for creative editing. Misinformation won’t help our kids.” Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Middlesex Hospital, UnitedHealthcare reach deal

Middlesex Hospital and UnitedHealthcare have reached an agreement on a new contract, avoiding the possibility that the Middletown hospital would leave the insurer’s network April 1. The hospital announced the agreement Friday evening. Before reaching a deal, UnitedHealthcare notified members about the possibility of severing ties with the hospital, although a company spokesman said the notices were sent to comply with a legal requirement, not to indicate pessimism about contract talks. Representatives from both sides had stressed during the process that they were working toward an agreement, a contrast to some more heated disputes between hospitals and insurers in the state in recent years. When a hospital leaves an insurer’s network, members typically must pay higher out-of-network rates to get non-emergency care there. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Milford nursing home lockout set to end

HealthBridge Management announced Friday that it will end the lockout of unionized workers at its West River Health Care Center in Milford beginning Wednesday. The 78 workers have been locked out since Dec. 13. Contracts for the facility’s employees, and those of workers at five other unionized HealthBridge nursing homes in Connecticut, expired more than a year ago. In locking out the West River workers in December, the company said the union had failed to accept a final offer or make meaningful counterproposals. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Another chapter in the teacher evaluation saga

Asked if he would sign an education reform package if it doesn’t include changes to how teachers earn tenure, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was blunt. “No,” he said. Whether that means tying teacher evaluations to earning tenure or speeding up how long it takes to fire a tenured teacher, both which the governor has proposed, was unclear. He did, however, tell reporters at the state Capitol complex Friday that an education reform package that fails to include the use of evaluations for accountability is unsatisfactory. “Evaluations, therefore, have to have meaning and therefore any package of reforms that doesn’t reference that is unacceptable,” he said. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Malloy to sign gas tax circuit breaker next week

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign the new gasoline tax circuit-breaker bill into law Tuesday, the governor’s office announced Friday afternoon. “We are all very concerned about the national rising cost of gasoline and its impact on Connecticut residents, businesses and the state’s economy as a whole, especially as the summer driving season approaches,” Malloy said. “I want to be clear that although this is not going to provide consumers with the type of relief they need and expect, it will slow the rise in cost at a time when our residents need it,” Malloy said. “But what we really need to do as a state and a nation is move toward policies that lead us in the direction of energy independence.” Both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously adopted a measure this week that would freeze wholesale fuel taxes for the next 15 months, giving some protection to consumers who pay the nation’s highest gasoline taxes and some election-year cover to state legislators. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

Malloy unsure if state could impose insurance mandate if feds can’t

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Friday that no one should count on his administration’s adopting an individual health insurance mandate for the state if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the federal health reform law. Speaking during a press availability, Malloy was responding to a question posed about a Mirror story about whether the administration would consider a state-level mandate that people have health insurance if the federal law’s mandate were ruled unconstitutional. Jeannette DeJesús, the governor’s special adviser on health reform, told Mirror Washington reporter Ana Radelat Thursday that while she’s confident the federal law will be found constitutional, “all options are on the table,” including the mandate, if it’s struck down. Malloy elaborated Friday. “Everything’s on the table,” he said. Continue Reading →

Filed under: ,

If Supreme Court tosses mandate, Malloy may pick it up

Washington — If the Supreme Court rules the federal health care bill’s mandate unconstitutional, the Malloy administration may try to implement it in the state. The Affordable Care Act will require most Americans, beginning in 2014, to obtain health insurance coverage or be subject to a fine. But after three days of Supreme Court arguments on the Affordable Care Act this week, governors like Dannel Malloy are considering what they will do if the high court declares the individual mandate — or the entire act — unconstitutional. Jeannette DeJesús, the governor’s special adviser on health reform, said Thursday that Connecticut may implement its own requirement that residents buy health insurance. “All options are on the table and (the mandate) would be one of the options on the table,” DeJesús said. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Governor’s controversial campaign finance fix rejected

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s much-maligned proposal to let publicly financed candidates raise unlimited supplemental funds if opposed by a high-spending opponent was rejected Thursday by a legislative committee. Instead, the Government Administration and Elections Committee increased the public grant for a gubernatorial race from $1.25 million to $2.5 million for a primary and from $6 million to $9 million for the general election. The changes passed 10-5 on a party-line vote. The Malloy administration’s proposal to mix public financing and unlimited private cash was roundly panned by Common Cause, the Connecticut Citizen Action Group, the State Elections Enforcement Commission and newspaper editorial boards. “That was just a conversation starter, and it started conversations,” said Sen. Gayle S. Slossberg, D-Milford. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

To Connecticut lawmakers’ dismay, Congress approves transportation bill

Washington — Right before the current bill that authorizes federal spending on transportation projects expires, Congress Thursday approved a 90-day extension. Connecticut’s House members balked at voting for that extension, even though it will mean millions of transportation dollars flowing to the state. They voted no because Connecticut’s lawmakers, like many of their Democratic colleagues, preferred a bill the Senate approved last week that would have authorized transportation spending for two years. But with the current transportation bill set to expire March 31, the House voted 266-158 for the short-term extension, and the Senate followed suit. That 90-day extension requires Congress to take up the issue again later this spring. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Appropriations panel reverses health cuts, transit fare hikes

Despite fiscal constraints, the Appropriations Committee restored funding Thursday for health care for the poor and the University of Connecticut Health Center, canceled a second wave of transit fare hikes and rejected several agency mergers sought by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration. The plan the Democratic-controlled committee adopted in a 34-15 vote along party lines also restored two crucial posts for the state’s top elections watchdogs and preserved separate grants for more than a dozen of the state’s top tourism attractions. Republicans tried unsuccessfully to amend the committee proposal with their own plan, which would spend about $340 million less, but offer modest income and sales tax cuts. The $20.73 billion committee plan shaves just over $936,000 off the bottom line Malloy proposed in February for the fiscal year that begins July 1 — a minute difference of 1/221st of 1 percent. But the administration raised concerns Thursday that the panel budget doesn’t include funds to continue the conversion of state finances to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

GOP says it can cut budget and still offer modest tax relief

Minority Republican legislators insisted Thursday they can shave more than $340 million off Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget plan for next year, add more than 160 new state troopers and still provide modest income and sales tax breaks next fiscal year. But later Thursday, the Appropriations Committee, in a 30-15 party-line vote, rejected the plan. The $18.9 billion package offered by GOP leaders during a mid-morning news conference also would have ended a major new tax break for Connecticut’s working poor, relying heavily on $140 million in new savings to be found by state employee unions and a major new initiative to root out Medicaid and other social services fraud. It also would have ended public financing for state elections and longevity bonuses for senior state employees, and would have imposed 10 percent pay cuts on legislators, commissioners and other executive staff. “Today we are producing a very different vision for the people of Connecticut,” Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, said during the morning news conference in the Legislative Office Building. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Unemployment in Connecticut dips to 7.8 percent

Unemployment in Connecticut dipped to 7.8 percent in February as the economy added 4,900 nonfarm jobs, the state Department of Labor said Thursday. Revised numbers show 5,400 new jobs in January. “This is good news. For the seventh consecutive month, we’re seeing positive signs in the state’s economic recovery, again outpacing the national average and bringing unemployment to its lowest level since April 2009,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. State DOL
Andy Condon, director of the labor department’s Office of Research, offered an analysis unchanged from last month. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Malloy’s education plans take hit in revised budget

The legislature’s budget-writing committee poked another hole in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education reform agendaThursday, recommending a significantly smaller budget for his initiatives. The Education Committee earlier this week approved a bill that turned many of his recommendations into studies. “What we’re hoping is that we can get started with educational improvement, and have a clearer plan as we move forward… We’ve put money there, just not as much as the governor has,” Sen. Toni N. Harp, D-New Haven, Appropriations Committee co-chairwoman. Malloy had asked for $22.9 million to turn around as many as 12 of the state’s lowest-performing schools starting in the coming school year. Continue Reading →

Filed under:

Mitt Romney’s ‘secret weapon’ is coming to Connecticut

Mitt Romney’s favorite and most important campaign surrogate — his wife, Ann — is coming to Connecticut on the eve of the state’s Republican primary to energize a friendly GOP base and headline the party’s annual fundraiser. Ann Romney, 62, will be the keynote speaker at the Prescott Bush Dinner in Stamford on April 23, the night before Republican presidential primaries in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. In an up-and-down political season in which her husband often has struggled to connect with audiences, Ann Romney has emerged as one of his most important assets, a popular speaker often called the campaign’s “secret weapon.” Ann and Mitt Romney
Mitt and Ann Romney celebrated their 43rd wedding anniversary March 21, the day after he won the Illinois primary. She introduced him at the victory rally, and a picture of the couple is the first thing seen by visitors to the campaign website. Continue Reading →

Filed under: