Losing in Connecticut last week, from border to border
“Losers” is one of President Donald Trump’s favorite words — one he uses for describing everyone from terrorist bombers in Manchester, England, to Washington Post columnist George Will; and there were plenty of losers and potential losers in Connecticut last week.
For starters, the entire state learned it is a loser – in population. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Connecticut lost 8,300 residents from 2015 to 2016 – a number equal to the population of Haddam.
Monday state employees learned that the $1.5 billion budget concession deal deemed necessary to help save the state from financial ruin – and preserve state workers’ jobs –would freeze wages, double their pension contributions and limit health-care benefits for current retirees. However, if it is approved by the legislature, Republicans warned, Connecticut could lose much of its chance to correct even larger budget deficits looming in the future.
Also on Monday, Connecticut residents who rely on Medicaid, food stamps and other parts of the social safety net found out their state would lose millions in financial support under the new federal budget proposal released by the Trump administration. Trump’s proposed $4.1 trillion budget would cut at least 20 percent from the Children’s Health Insurance Program and dozens of other domestic programs that provide heat for low-income residents and money to prevent homelessness.
Similarly, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of the health bill passed by the House of Representatives said the bill would mean that some 23 million more Americans would not have health insurance by 2026; and that senior citizens, in particular, would face higher premiums and fewer benefits than under the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro apparently lost her patience with the education portion of the new budget, lacing into Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos about the proposal she termed, among other things, “inhumane.” The C-Span video of the congresswoman’s tirade went viral:
Tuesday, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman seemed to have lost his chance to become the next FBI director when Trump hired Lieberman’s law firm to represent him in the ongoing investigation into whether his election campaign had ties to Russia. Two days later — after Arizona Sen. John McCain lamented Democrats’ coolness toward Lieberman’s nomination — Lieberman withdrew from consideration for the job.
Nobody likes losing a job, of course, or business; so Sen. Chris Murphy took steps last week to block a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia — except for part that would allow the sale of Sikorsky-made helicopters.
Connecticut politicians don’t like losing political contributions, either, but they do agree voters should know where they are coming from, which is why a new measure to identify the sources of “dark money” campaign donations was approved by the House.
Also at the State Capitol in Hartford, a bill that would have allowed undocumented public college students to receive financial aid lost critical political support after the arrest of one activist and former student at the University of Connecticut on criminal mischief charges.
The state Republicans, as well, lost a little face when they chastised Democrats for a tongue-in-cheek bear-hunting-ban amendment actually written by GOP lawmakers a year ago. In an announcement Wednesday, however, they tried to avert bigger budgetary losses for municipalities and hospitals as a consequence of this year’s deficit.
Connecticut’s two resort casinos, of course, are not in the habit of losing; and if they don’t want to lose their bid to open a satellite casino in East Windsor, House Democrats say, it is going to cost them.
Members of both parties are loathe to have residents lose access to Connecticut state parks because of the budget crisis, so they have fashioned a plan to add a “Passport to Parks” charge to auto registrations that will help fund the parks’ operation.
No week passes without a few gains as well as losses, of course, and in this case the state judiciary potentially gained 13 new Superior Court judges, whose nominations were approved by the legislature’s Judiciary Committee. Whether the state can actually afford to pay their salaries remains to be seen.
The victims of sex trafficking also gained some new protection under the law with passage of a measure to widen the definition of human trafficking and toughen the penalties for trafficking and related crimes.
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