Private-sector essential workers discover, apply for pandemic bonuses
On Aug. 5, 2022, we published a story about a new state-launched, $1,000 pandemic bonus program for private-sector essential workers. It quickly received over 20,000 pageviews and was republished by many other news outlets in Connecticut. As a result more than 50,000 applications were received in the first week — crashing the state website multiple times and surprising state officials since other cash assistance programs struggled to get visibility.
State contracting watchdog avoids cuts, gets funds to expand instead
Shortly after the start of the 2022 legislative session, we reported that Gov. Ned Lamont had tucked a provision into his budget proposal to strip the State Contracting Standards Board of key enforcement powers and keep the agency funded at a level that only allows for one full-time employee. In the wake of this reporting, legislative leaders quickly denounced the proposal, leading the governor to retract it. Lawmakers then responded by budgeting $450,000 for the watchdog agency, allowing it to hire new employees and giving it its first investigative staff in its 15-year history.
State school construction program gets accountability overhaul
In 2022, we published numerous investigative stories on Kosta Diamantis’ dealings during his time as head of the state’s school construction office. Lawmakers responded by enacting a number of reforms to the multibillion-dollar grant program, tightening the bidding procedures for school construction contracts and setting stricter deadlines for completing audits of school building projects.
Taxpayers gain access to millions in unclaimed property
On Jan. 2, 2022, we published an investigation that found the state had returned less than 37% of the $2.3 billion in unclaimed property it collected in the past two decades. Lawmakers responded by including reforms to the program in this year’s budget bill, which will help return millions of dollars in uncashed checks, forgotten security deposits, unclaimed insurance policies and other misplaced financial assets to Connecticut residents.
Local COVID relief spending receives state scrutiny in wake of misuse
In the fall of 2021 CT Mirror took a leading role in reporting the misuse of COVID funds in West Haven. In the wake of our reporting and other reporting about this situation, the state budget office announced that it would audit the use of COVID funds by all 169 towns in the state. Our 2021 work continued to ripple in 2022, with multiple arrests, a deeper takeover of municipal finances by the state, and increasingly louder calls for the mayor to resign.
Unemployed workers facing clawbacks get lawmakers’ attention
On Sept. 19, 2021, we published a story detailing a recent surge in repayment requests, which are asking already cash-strapped people to pay back tens of thousands of dollars. Three days after our story published, the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Labor Committee called on the state Department of Labor to figure out a solution to the growing number of “overpayments” being identified in the unemployment system.
Undocumented immigrants freed from indefinite hospitalizations
On June 15, 2021, we published a story describing how the state’s rules for administering Medicaid prohibit undocumented immigrants from accessing outpatient services or less-expensive nursing home care if they require ongoing treatment after hospitalization — effectively meaning some have to remain hospitalized indefinitely. Five weeks later, Gov. Ned Lamont changed the state’s policy, allowing dozens of undocumented immigrants to go home and saving taxpayers money from expensive hospitalizations.
People of color hidden in state vaccination data gain visibility
On Jan. 27, 2021, we published a story challenging the state’s initial contention that there was no white/Hispanic inequity in vaccine distribution. The state ultimately walked it back.
State lawmakers turn to CT Mirror’s explanatory reporting to craft complex state budget
In this year of federal stimulus, COVID spending, and surprisingly robust tax receipts we continue to publish explanatory journalism about a state budget that has even more moving parts than it usually does.