In This Together CT For a fair budget and a livable state with great public services Wed, 12 Jan 2011 15:03:51 +0000 en hourly 1 A New Beginning – Join Us Wed, 12 Jan 2011 14:53:50 +0000 Matt O'Connor Connecticut has a new Governor!  With the new administration comes the beginning of a new legislative session and the hard work of righting Connecticut’s economy.  Difficult choices are ahead but the Governor has already shown great willingness to seek ideas…

Connecticut has a new Governor!  With the new administration comes the beginning of a new legislative session and the hard work of righting Connecticut’s economy.  Difficult choices are ahead but the Governor has already shown great willingness to seek ideas from all sectors.  SEBAC is ready to partner with the new Governor to further those efforts.  Join us by posting your comments on the articles below!

 Week in News – Jan 5, 2011 through Jan 11, 2011

New Governor, Legislature Sworn In Today – Jan 5, 2011 – CT Newsjunkie

Malloy business task force lays out key goals – Jan 5, 2011 – NL Day

Lawmakers Agree Shared Sacrifice Needed, But How Long Will The Honeymoon Last? – Jan 5, 2011 – CT Newsjjunkie

The Shameful Attack on Public Employees  – Jan 5, 2011 – Huffington Post

New governor seeks ideas from state workers  – Jan 6, 2011 – Middletown Press

Malloy to business: Prepare for sacrifice, but hope for the future  – Jan 7, 2011 – CT Mirror

Malloy e-mail triggers ideas from Conn. workers – Jan 10, 2011-  CT Post;jsessionid=027507536C7E845D93572716DBBF2B9F?contentguid=oZoTkG0k&src=cat&full=true#display

Malloy has plenty of new ideas, not enough dollars  – Jan 10, 2011 – CT Mirror

Malloy To Cut Layers Of State Government; Connecticut Has 1 Supervisor For Every 6 Employees; Average State Government Across Country Has 1 Per 12 Workers – Jan 11, 2011 – Capitol Watch

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Malloy has plenty of new ideas, not enough dollars Mon, 10 Jan 2011 15:02:24 +0000 Matt O'Connor

January 10, 2011 By Keith M. Phaneuf Jacqueline Rabe and Arielle Levin Becker

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s transition team presented more than 1,800 pages worth of policy recommendations Monday, including sweeping proposals to overhaul education funding, institute universal pre-kindergarten, find new transportation…


January 10, 2011

By Keith M. Phaneuf Jacqueline Rabe and Arielle Levin Becker

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s transition team presented more than 1,800 pages worth of policy recommendations Monday, including sweeping proposals to overhaul education funding, institute universal pre-kindergarten, find new transportation revenues and end the regional tourism district system.

And while Malloy thanked his team’s Policy Committee for developing a report that offers guidance his administration will use over the next four years, he reminded members that these goals–though valuable–will be limited by a $3.7 billion budget deficit looming less than six months away.

“It is a new day for the state and for our people,” Malloy said. “Sacrifices will be made but strong partnerships will be built.”

 The committee, composed of officials from both state and municipal government as well as private-sector representatives from numerous fields, developed more than 150 policy papers on such topics as economic development, education, energy, the environment, health care, housing, public safety social services and transportation.

One of the strongest conclusions reached by the panel was that Connecticut’s chief funding mechanism for public education is “broken.”

“The school financing system doesn’t work… The whole funding formula should be revamped,” said Cameron C. Staples, a former state legislator who co-chaired the General Assembly’s Education Committee.

The state’s formula for funding education – known as Education Cost Sharing – is based on a town’s wealth and aims to drive more state support to those communities with more need.

Malloy said following the 90-minute meeting that he agrees funding for schools needs to be reorganized, adding this cannot be fixed entirely in the short-term.

He said his immediate goal is to maintain current education funding levels. For the current fiscal year, the state gave towns $1.9 billion for education, of which $271 million was from one-time federal stimulus money.

“We will be recommending to the legislature that they broaden the tax base for local communities. Some of this has to be entertained at the community level. Some of these communities have to look themselves in the mirror and re-prioritize some of their expenditures,” Malloy said. “I will do all within my power to hold communities harmless or relatively harmless.”

 Other education-related recommendations include offering universal access to pre-school and creating two new high-level positions. The panel proposed creating a commissioner of early childhood education and a secretary of education. The latter would oversee all things education from birth to higher education and report directly to Malloy.

With Connecticut still struggling with about 9 percent unemployment, the committee also gave high priority to economic development, arguing that the best chance for growth starts with Malloy himself.

“The visible engagement of the governor–meeting with companies large and small, asking ‘what will it take for your company to grow jobs in Connecticut’ … was repeatedly stressed” by those the committee interviewed, Joseph McGee, a former state economic development commissioner in the early 1990s and co-chairman of the policy committee, said.

The panel also called for the phasing out of the regional tourism districts and a new focus on statewide tourism promotions. “The reality is we have a very modest budget and Connecticut is not a very big state,” Liberty Bank President Chandler Howard, who led the committee’s economic development policy efforts, said, adding a tourism steering panel still could include representatives from the state’s various regions.

Malloy campaigned repeatedly on a pledge not to shred the state’s health care and social services for the poor and disabled.

 The health care recommendations, presented by Dr. Tory Westbrook, focused on federal and state-level reform efforts, redesigning the health care system to pay more for primary care and less for specialty care, emphasizing prevention and wellness, and creating health care jobs.

Numerous proposals were tied to the state’s $4 billion Medicaid program.

One recommendation involved moving HUSKY, the state’s main health insurance program for poor families, out of a managed-care system. One option would be to expand the state’s primary care case management pilot. This program is attractive to health care advocates because doctors, not insurance companies, are paid to coordinate patients’ care.

Toni Fatone, a committee member and former head of the state’s largest association of nursing homes, which absorbs 7 percent of the state’s budget while treating less than 1 percent of the population, must be required to develop market-driven business plans.

Fatone also said Connecticut should expand its use of provider taxes on social services.

Connecticut, like most states, levies a provider tax on nursing home care, which it in turn spends on the industry–an arrangement that enabled it to qualify for more federal Medicaid reimbursement. Though Fatone did not recommend specific areas to expand the provider tax system into, other states levy such taxes on hospital care, nonprofit agency social services, health clinics and even managed-care insurance plans.

The group also recommended pursuing federal funding for home and community-based services and creating an Alzheimer’s work group to plan for what Fatone called “unprecedented demands” for medical services in the future.

Other key recommendations of the committee include:

  • Pursuing new sources of transportation funding – particularly federal aid – while dedicating more existing state fuel taxes for transportation purposes. Though tolls weren’t mentioned specifically, Malloy said they would get a careful analysis by his administration. The governor added, though that “I would never sign a toll bill that didn’t lock-box the revenue seven ways to Sunday” to ensure it only could be used for transportation projects.
  • Modernizing a Department of Public Utility Control that was established before the electricity-generation market was deregulated a decade ago, and begin planning to replace Connecticut’s power plants, over half of which are more than 35 years old
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The Shameful Attack on Public Employees Wed, 05 Jan 2011 15:00:07 +0000 Eric Bailey

Robert Reich

Fmr. Secretary of Labor; Professor at Berkeley; Author, Aftershock: ‘The Next Economy and America’s Future’

Posted: January 5, 2011 09:14 PM

In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support…


Robert Reich

Fmr. Secretary of Labor; Professor at Berkeley; Author, Aftershock: ‘The Next Economy and America’s Future’

Posted: January 5, 2011 09:14 PM

In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Eventually Memphis heard the grievances of its sanitation workers. And in subsequent years millions of public employees across the nation have benefited from the job protections they’ve earned.

But now the right is going after public employees.

Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don’t want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they’d like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

It’s far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public’s work — sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees — to call them “faceless bureaucrats” and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican’s Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that’s too big.

Above all, Republicans don’t want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.

But the right’s argument is shot-through with bad data, twisted evidence, and unsupported assertions.

They say public employees earn far more than private-sector workers. That’s untrue when you take account of level of education. Matched by education, public sector workers actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

The Republican trick is to compare apples with oranges — the average wage of public employees with the average wage of all private-sector employees. But only 23 percent of private-sector employees have college degrees; 48 percent of government workers do. Teachers, social workers, public lawyers who bring companies to justice, government accountants who try to make sure money is spent as it should be — all need at least four years of college.

Compare apples to apples and and you’d see that over the last fifteen years the pay of public sector workers has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education. Public sector workers now earn 11 percent less than comparable workers in the private sector, and local workers 12 percent less. (Even if you include health and retirement benefits, government employees still earn less than their private-sector counterparts with similar educations.)

Here’s another whopper. Republicans say public-sector pensions are crippling the nation. They say politicians have given in to the demands of public unions who want only to fatten their members’ retirement benefits without the public noticing. They charge that public-employee pensions obligations are out of control.

Some reforms do need to be made. Loopholes that allow public sector workers to “spike” their final salaries in order to get higher annuities must be closed. And no retired public employee should be allowed to “double dip,” collecting more than one public pension.

But these are the exceptions. Most public employees don’t have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. Few would call that overly generous.

And most of that $19,000 isn’t even on taxpayers’ shoulders. While they’re working, most public employees contribute a portion of their salaries into their pension plans. Taxpayers are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public retirement benefits. Remember also that many public workers aren’t covered by Social Security, so the government isn’t contributing 6.25 of their pay into the Social Security fund as private employers would.

Yes, there’s cause for concern about unfunded pension liabilities in future years. They’re way too big. But it’s much the same in the private sector. The main reason for underfunded pensions in both public and private sectors is investment losses that occurred during the Great Recession. Before then, public pension funds had an average of 86 percent of all the assets they needed to pay future benefits — better than many private pension plans.

The solution is no less to slash public pensions than it is to slash private ones. It’s for all employers to fully fund their pension plans.

The final Republican canard is that bargaining rights for public employees have caused state deficits to explode. In fact there’s no relationship between states whose employees have bargaining rights and states with big deficits. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights — Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, for example, are running giant deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many that give employees bargaining rights — Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana — have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

Public employees should have the right to bargain for better wages and working conditions, just like all employees do. They shouldn’t have the right to strike if striking would imperil the public, but they should at least have a voice. They often know more about whether public programs are working, or how to make them work better, than political appointees who hold their offices for only a few years.

Don’t get me wrong. When times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else. And they are right now. Pay has been frozen for federal workers, and for many state workers across the country as well.

But isn’t it curious that when it comes to sacrifice, Republicans don’t include the richest people in America? To the contrary, they insist the rich should sacrifice even less, enjoying even larger tax cuts that expand public-sector deficits. That means fewer public services, and even more pressure on the wages and benefits of public employees.

It’s only average workers — both in the public and the private sectors — who are being called upon to sacrifice.

This is what the current Republican attack on public-sector workers is really all about. Their version of class warfare is to pit private-sector workers against public servants. They’d rather set average working people against one another — comparing one group’s modest incomes and benefits with another group’s modest incomes and benefits — than have Americans see that the top 1 percent is now raking in a bigger share of national income than at any time since 1928, and paying at a lower tax rate. And Republicans would rather you didn’t know they want to cut taxes on the rich even more.

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Lawmakers Agree Shared Sacrifice Needed, But How Long Will The Honeymoon Last? Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:58:39 +0000 Matt O'Connor

by Christine Stuart | Jan 5, 2011 6:01pm

It’s unclear where the cuts will be made and how long the honeymoon between the newly elected governor and legislature will last, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Gov. Dan…


by Christine Stuart | Jan 5, 2011 6:01pm

It’s unclear where the cuts will be made and how long the honeymoon between the newly elected governor and legislature will last, but lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Gov. Dan Malloy struck all the right notes Wednesday in his inaugural address to the joint General Assembly.

The speech, which was similar but a little longer than he one he gave earlier in the afternoon at the armory, touched on Connecticut’s history of innovation and ingenuity, its challenges, and how those challenges will require shared sacrifice.

“Today was the day to set the tone,” Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, said. “He did that.”

Facing what may be one of the toughest economic climates and a budget deficit greater than $3.67 billion, possibly the largest in state history, Malloy will need all the help he can get.

“Everybody wants Malloy to succeed,” Roraback said. But “as details emerge a spirited discussion will begin,” he added.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said he’s not sure how long the goodwill will last after Feb. 16 — the date Malloy is expected to give his budget address.

“I think that may be the end of the honeymoon,” Cafero said. “It’s when the real work begins.”

But Malloy, who failed to win the governor’s office in 2006, said he’s been preparing for this office for more than six years.

“In many ways, the adversity that I have faced growing up, and the adversity Connecticut faces today, are intersecting at that crossroads of crisis and opportunity,” Malloy said.

Personal victories aside, Democrats like Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said Malloy struck many of the same themes he did during the campaign in terms of trying to find ways for Connecticut to be move aggressive and innovative and to replicate on a statewide level many of the things he did as mayor of Stamford.

Joseph Brennan, senior vice president of public policy for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said he thought Malloy delivered a “very positive message,” and talked throughout his remarks about getting the economy going again.

“He did recognize we don’t have a particularly employer-friendly environment in Connecticut,” Brennan said. 

And Malloy touched on some of of the business community’s loudest complaints about Connecticut: the cost of electricity and health care.

“We will work to remove the barriers that keep us from attracting employers by lowering the highest energy costs in the country, lowering health care costs, and reforming our regulatory system to protect the public while building our economy,” Malloy said. “I also hope you will join me in a movement to once-and-for-all resolve our out-of-control budget crisis, and retire gimmicks and one-time solutions.”

Brennan said it will be difficult for Malloy to satisfy everybody in the coming year.

“We certainly agree in his call for shared sacrifice,” Brennan said. “Ultimately that’s the only way we’re going to solve the problems that we have.”

House Speaker Chris Donovan said he’s looking forward to working with Malloy. He said there were some similar themes between Donovan’s speech earlier in the morning and Malloy’s. He said they both talked about ways to reduce the cost of energy and lower the cost of health care.

As for shared sacrifices, Malloy made no mention of which constituencies may be facing reductions.

“Shared sacrifice can mean many things to many people,” Cafero said, describing Malloy’s comments as appropriately vague. “I’m sure that we’ll get more detail in a moment. It meant that everybody is going to have to give a little . . .  by way of services, by way of resources, by way of cutting back, I don’t know. But I would hope that he means that he understands and is prepared to tell the state that we don’t have any money right now and we’re going to have to do without in many cases.”

Earlier today, Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, said that just because the state is facing a budget crisis doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity to do good things. He said good things don’t always have to cost money.

“We have to do better than just say this is how much money we have,” Tercyak said. “There needs to be vision.”

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Malloy business task force lays out key goals Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:57:12 +0000 Matt O'Connor

By Anthony Cronin

Publication: The Day

Published 01/05/2011 12:00 AM Updated 01/06/2011 09:13 AM

A new report to Gov.-elect Dan Malloy offers a sweeping set of recommendations, including streamlining state agencies and revitalizing lagging urban centers, to jump-start Connecticut’s recession-battered economy.

The report,…


By Anthony Cronin

Publication: The Day

Published 01/05/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 01/06/2011 09:13 AM

A new report to Gov.-elect Dan Malloy offers a sweeping set of recommendations, including streamlining state agencies and revitalizing lagging urban centers, to jump-start Connecticut’s recession-battered economy.

The report, developed by Malloy’s Jobs and Economic Development Working Group, offers strong language on the state of this state’s economy, saying the “list of needs is long” for putting in place an effective economic development plan that will allow Connecticut to effectively compete in a global 21st-century economy.

“Overshadowing all the specific programs and policies that need to be put in place is the state’s financial situation,” says the 15-page report. “Without direct, swift and certain actions here, economic development and the job creation it brings will remain a cherished goal, and nothing more.”

The jobs and economic development working group is co-chaired by Tony Sheridan, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, and Chandler Howard, the president and chief executive officer of the Middletown-based Liberty Bank.

Both were tapped by Malloy to head the economic-development working group, one of a dozen so-called working groups developed by the incoming governor to assist his administration in developing policies for key areas, from economic development to housing and tourism.

Connecticut is in need of strong job creation and economic development, having lost nearly 100,000 jobs during the Great Recession, which began in Connecticut in March 2008. In addition, Connecticut’s $200 billion-plus economy hasn’t seen any real net job growth for some two decades, according to economists, and faces high energy and labor costs, burdensome regulations and an aging transportation system.

The working-group report was released Tuesday to the regional chamber’s board of trustees and its benefactors.

Sheridan, in an accompanying note to the report, said job creation and economic development were “arguably the number one challenge” facing Malloy’s new administration.

“Although the time was short, we put in place a process that resulted in a wide variety of recommendations,” said Sheridan. “We did so with the recognition that there will be no easy solutions to the challenges facing our state.”

Sheridan said Connecticut’s difficult fiscal condition – it’s facing a staggering $3.6 billion budget deficit – represents an “enormously difficult task” for the governor-elect.

The working group recommends that Connecticut sweep aside its parochial considerations, which can pit one community against another, and needs to look toward more regional solutions to its needs and concerns.

It calls for the development of a “Team Connecticut” spirit toward job creation and economic development. The report says both the public and private sectors need to work together toward streamlining economic development – the report cites a dizzying total of 33 state agencies currently tasked with economic development – and need to work collectively toward Connecticut’s economic resurgence, especially in vital industries such as insurance and financial services, life sciences and medical devices as well as aerospace.

The working group maintains that a return to economic vibrancy across Connecticut must be the Malloy administration’s top concern.

“None of these needs is more important than a demonstrated commitment at the very pinnacle of state government to building a secure economic future,” the report emphasizes. “Without such leadership , any effort in this area will be marginalized.”

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New Governor, Legislature Sworn In Today Wed, 05 Jan 2011 14:55:15 +0000 Matt O'Connor

by Christine Stuart | Jan 5, 2011 5:00am

Dan Malloy, the first Democrat to win the governor’s office in more than two decades, will take over Wednesday as the state’s 88th governor.

Malloy is scheduled to take the oath of office at…


by Christine Stuart | Jan 5, 2011 5:00am

Dan Malloy, the first Democrat to win the governor’s office in more than two decades, will take over Wednesday as the state’s 88th governor.

Malloy is scheduled to take the oath of office at 2 p.m. at public ceremony in the state Armory named after Connecticut’s last Democratic governor, William A. O’Neill.

Then it’s back to Capitol for some work. Malloy is expected to sign a series of executive orders including one which will change the way the state does its accounting. It’s that executive order which will make it harder for Malloy to resolve what is expected to be a more than $3.67 billion budget deficit.

With the executive orders fresh in his mind Malloy will then proceed to the House chamber to address the General Assembly for what is expected to be a half-hour speech. On Tuesday Malloy joked that the length of the speech will depend on how nervous he is and how many applause he receives.

On his first day in office Malloy will have already announced eight of 23 state commissioners and his administration has been confident that what is left of Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s commissioners will stay until Malloy can nominate a replacement.

Questions had been raised about the Department of Children and Families since Susan Hamilton had tendered her resignation and former Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz has yet to be approved by the legislature. Malloy’s advisors said Tuesday that Katz has agreed to resign from the court and take over the agency immediately. Malloy’s Chief of Staff Timothy Bannon also said a few weeks ago that he expects Department of Social Services Commissioner Michael Starkowski to remain until a replacement is named. Starkowski accepted the early retirement package in 2009 and his contract extension expired at the end of December, but Bannon said he was assured Starkowski would return to duty today.

In addition to Malloy approximately 178 legislators will also be sworn in Wednesday. But there are at least nine lawmakers, possibly more, that won’t take the oath. At a press conference on Tuesday Malloy admitted he’s losing some veteran legislative talent, but said “my hope is that others will step up.”

At least five lawmakers were hand picked by Malloy to serve in his administration, two more have taken other positions in state government, and one will be arraigned today on larceny charges.

Three of the vacancies are unrelated to Malloy appointments:

-Sen. Tom Gaffey, D-Meriden,  won his election but decided not to be sworn in because he is facing an arraignment Wednesday on misdemeanor larceny charges related to campaign finances;

-Rep. James Spallone, D-Essex,  was appointed Deputy Secretary of the State by Denise Merrill, and;

-Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, has been nominated by legislative leaders to be one of the state’s two auditors of public accounts.

Malloy has picked the following lawmakers to serve in his administration:

-Rep. Chris Caruso, D-Bridgeport, will serve as special counsel in the Department of Economic and Community Development.

-Rep. Deborah Heinrich, D-Madison, appointed to newly created Nonprofit Advocate cabinet position;

-Rep. David McCluskey, D-West Hartford, appointed to the Board of Pardons and Parole;

-Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, appointed Malloy’s chief legal counsel;

-Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, appointed to the Office of Policy and Management, and;

-Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, to head the Department of Administrative Services.

Earlier in the morning around 10 a.m. Malloy will swear in Nancy Wyman as lieutenant governor in the Senate chamber. At around 1 p.m. the inaugural parade begins at Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park and concludes at the armory for the ceremony.

As Malloy exits the armory he will be greeted with a 19-gun artillery salute and a helicopter flyover before proceeding to his Capitol office to sign a series of executive orders around 3:15 p.m.

At around 3:30 Malloy will address the General Assembly in House chamber for what is expected to be a half-hour speech.

The day of pomp and circumstance will conclude with the inaugural ball at the Connecticut Convention Center.

And following a tradition started by outgoing Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Malloy and Wyman will greet the public on Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the state Capitol.

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The New Year Is A Time For New Opportunities Wed, 05 Jan 2011 00:58:53 +0000 Matt O'Connor The New Year is upon us – a time of new beginnings and new opportunities to make positive changes for a better future for Connecticut’s cities and towns, children and working families.  We can all make a resolution to work…

The New Year is upon us – a time of new beginnings and new opportunities to make positive changes for a better future for Connecticut’s cities and towns, children and working families.  We can all make a resolution to work together toward an economic recovery that restores the quality of life we know Connecticut has to offer.  The state’s public structures are a key part of that recovery – its people the engine and our ideas the fuel to make it a reality.  Some opinion writers in the media only see doom – we prefer to see an opportunity for a move in the right direction.  We look forward to working with Governor-Elect Dan Malloy and his administration in 2011 to bring that innovation and ingenuity to work for all Connecticut citizens.

Week in News – Dec 20 through Jan 4, 2011

Norm St. Cyr: Elected leaders seem bent on spending state into oblivion – Dec 20, 2010 – Letter to Editor of Norwich Bulletin

DON PESCI: Is Malloy serious?  – Dec 22, 2010 – Middletown press Opinion

Rell, Democrats battle over budget to the end – Dec 22, 2010 – CT Mirror

Malloy Picks Former Mayor To Lead Streamlining Efforts – Dec 22, 2010 – CT Newsjunkie

After one education leader quits, Malloy expresses confidence in another – Dec 23, 2010 – CT Mirror

It’s Time To Flatten State’s Bureaucracy/A Sign Of Progress  - Dec 27, 2010 – Hartford Business Journal Editorial

More early retirement perks? Malloy says ‘I wouldn’t hold my breath.’  – Dec 28, 2010 – CT Mirror

State pension fund woes worsen – New Haven Register – Dec 29, 2010

Former Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan Nominated to Head Department of Revenue Services – Dec 29, 2010 CT Newsjunkie

Malloy: ‘Painful’ times ahead  – Dec 30, 2010 – New London Day

Public Workers Face Outrage as Budget Crises Grow – January 1, 2011 – New York Times

After managing expectations, Malloy now turns to managing the deficit –  -CT Mirror – January 2, 2011

Malloy now has to walk the walk – Stamford Advocate – Jan 3, 2010

Five Newsmakers To Watch In 2011 – Hartford Business Journal – Jan. 3, 2011

Auditors: New agency needed to handle whistleblower complaints  - CT Mirror – Jan 4, 2010

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Auditors: New agency needed to handle whistleblower complaints Tue, 04 Jan 2011 23:33:57 +0000 Matt O'Connor

January 4, 2011 By Keith M. Phaneuf

Despite a record-setting budget deficit, the state should consider creating a new agency to resolve a growing backlog of employee complaints of corruption, mismanagement, waste and unsafe behavior, Connecticut’s retiring state auditors proposed Monday.



January 4, 2011

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Despite a record-setting budget deficit, the state should consider creating a new agency to resolve a growing backlog of employee complaints of corruption, mismanagement, waste and unsafe behavior, Connecticut’s retiring state auditors proposed Monday.

Robert G. Jaekle and Kevin P. Johnston also used their final annual report to recommend closing a loophole in the state pension system and tighter restrictions on when state government can waive competitive bidding.

“The statutory requirement that our office review all whistleblower complaints filed with our agency affords our agency no flexibility in deciding which complaints are worthy of spending limited state resources to review and investigate,” wrote Jaekle and Johnston, who traditionally do not comment beyond their written reports.

The state’s fiscal and programmatic watchdogs have long complained that they lack the resources to handle growing numbers of confidential allegations about improper state government operations. One of the smallest agencies within the Legislative Branch, the auditors’ office has 117 staffers and a $13.4 million operating budget.

The auditors’ office, which traces its origins back to the colonial charter of 1652, primarily is responsible for auditing state agencies, quasi-public entities and government programs, and for preparing the statewide single audit report, a comprehensive analysis of state finances including federal assistance. A total of 63 audits with 456 recommendations were issued in 2010.

But since the whistleblower statutes were enacted in the late 1970s, the auditors have had primary responsibility for processing those complaints, though certain criminal matters also are reviewed to the Attorney General’s office.

The legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee reported one year ago that the number of complaints filed annually under this system more than doubled, from 70 to 151, while the auditors’ office routinely processed about 80.

The office received 94 complaints over the past year, including 11 involving allegations of retaliation against past whistleblowers. More than 200 cases still are pending, including more than 29 that have been pending for two years of more.

The legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis projects a $3.67 billion deficit is built into the next state budget, an amount equal to nearly one-fifth of current spending, and Jaekle and Johnston wrote that a new agency to process whistleblower complaints “may not be feasible given the state’s current fiscal situation.”

They also suggest in their annual report that the legislature could give the next auditors the flexibility to transfer complaints to “another unit of state government” to speed up the review, but it doesn’t recommend any specific agency.

“I think we need a better solution than the one we have now,” said Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee. But she added that the largest deficit in state history undoubtedly would limit lawmakers’ options.

“How high people are willing to prioritize this remains to be seen, but I don’t think anyone wants to create a new agency at this point,” she said.

State employee union spokesman Matt O’Connor said workers aren’t convinced the only solution to the new backlog is a new state agency when additional resources for the auditors’ and attorney general’s offices could solve the problem.

“We all understand that the auditors are backlogged,” O’Connor said, adding that what the report does show is “the lack of focus on accountability, transparency and real ethics throughout state government” and particularly with outgoing Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration.

Union leaders have bumped heads with the Rell administration and the legislature over the past two years for eliminating nearly all funding for the State Contracting Standards Board, a watchdog agency created three years ago to monitor major contract awards to private companies.

Slossberg said that the state budget funds a number of watchdog and clean government programs spread across several agencies, and could consider reorganizing various entities to devote more resources to the whistleblower backlog.

Slossberg didn’t recommend any specific agencies during an interview Monday.

Other recommendations in the annual report included:

  • Closing a loophole in what is commonly referred to as the “double-dipping” provision within the state pension system. Current law allows pension recipients to be rehired at full salary within state government without any pension reduction, but for no more than 120 days in a calendar year. But the auditors noted that restriction doesn’t apply to pension recipients hired at state-funded, private institutions, such as the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, the American School for the Deaf and the Connecticut Institute for the Blind.
  • Limiting the conditions under which state agencies can waive competitive bidding rules. Most service contracts and other purchases costing more than $20,000 are supposed to be subject to competitive bidding, though the Executive Branch can waive this under several conditions, including whenever it determines “special capabilities or experience” are needed. The auditors called this an “often-used” and “overly broad condition that could conceivably be argued to exist for any personal services agreement” and suggested that it be eliminated.

Jaekle and Johnston, who will retire on Friday, have served as Connecticut’s Republican and Democratic state auditors, respectively, since 1993. State legislative leaders announced last week that former state House Minority Leader Robert Ward, a North Branford Republican, and New Britain Democrat John Geragosian, an eight-term representative and outgoing co-chairman of the Appropriations Committee, have been chosen to replace them.

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Five Newsmakers To Watch In 2011 Mon, 03 Jan 2011 23:31:58 +0000 Matt O'Connor

Hartford Business Journal


Rinker: State Workers Seek Role in Budget Fix

When Gov.-Elect Dan Malloy beat Tom Foley by fewer than 7,000 votes last November, it’s no secret that state union workers played a big role in the victory. In fact, the…


Hartford Business Journal


Rinker: State Workers Seek Role in Budget Fix

When Gov.-Elect Dan Malloy beat Tom Foley by fewer than 7,000 votes last November, it’s no secret that state union workers played a big role in the victory. In fact, the day Malloy was declared the unofficial winner, the Service Employees International Union put out a press release with a headline that screamed “Service Workers Help Secure Malloy’s Victory.”

As the most anticipated legislative session in recent memory gets underway this week, and lawmakers attempt to close a projected $3.5 billion budget deficit, a lot of focus will be on the relationship between Malloy and state union workers.

And that puts the spotlight on Robert Rinker, the executive director of CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, one of the 13 unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition that represents more than 23,000 public employees and retirees. Rinker will be at the table with the Malloy Administration for any labor negotiations.

State employees are often caught in the political crossfire during budget fights. But Rinker said that doesn’t need to be the case. State workers want to be part of the solution, he said. But he also said the deficit can’t be closed on the backs of state workers. And the conversation can’t start with concessions either.

“As soon as you move the conversation to concessions, then you are creating an adversarial relationship,” said Rinker, who noted that state workers agreed to $700 million in wage and benefit concessions in 2009.

Rinker said there is no secret deal between unions and Malloy, something Foley repeatedly charged during the campaign. He said union workers supported Malloy because he has a long-term vision for the state’s future and he will empower frontline workers to help drive efficiencies in government, which could reduce costs by up to 5 percent of the overall budget.

And he said union workers have plenty of “win-win” ideas on how to do that, many of which have been ignored by the Rell and Rowland administrations.

Offering delayed retirement incentives, encouraging more telecommuting and allowing willing workers to cut their work week are just a few examples.

Rinker said the state also needs to overhaul the way it contracts out services and products to ensure that more of the work is done by state employees or Connecticut-based companies.

In terms of health care savings, Rinker said unions are open to shifting to a more value-based health plan with better chronic disease management. He favors the patient-centered medical home concept and finding ways to drive down ER visits and readmission rates, which are high among state workers.

And while the state looks to trim its budget, Rinker said lawmakers must consider long-term investments that will drive economic growth, including fixing decrepit state roads and bridges and moving forward with high-speed rail.

“The way we get out of this economic crisis is putting people back to work,” Rinker said.

Laurencin: Growing New Technology

In 2011, the University of Connecticut Health Center will achieve new levels of research furthering patient care and spinning off businesses based on breakthrough technology.

The man leading the charge — Dr. Cato Laurencin — is the perfect example. In addition to running a center dedicated to moving technology from the lab to the market, Laurencin has a side business studying knee ligament regeneration.

The New Haven medical start-up Soft Tissue Regeneration, founded with Laurencin’s technology, uses bioengineered tissue for reconstruction of the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament. The goal is a treatment alternative that’s less painful and prone to infection than traditional surgery.

By 2011’s end, the technology will proceed to clinical trials, a precursor to approval from U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If approved, Soft Tissue Regeneration can bring its product to market.

As UConn’s vice president for health affairs, Laurencin wants to replicate this individual success throughout the state medical system.

In 2011, UConn Health Center will add 40 faculty members to its ranks of 500 to boost the link between clinical work and research, especially in the institution’s strength areas of cardiology, musculoskeletal, genetics, cellular biology and vascular biology.

Laurencin will play a key role in the hiring process to ensure the additions are enthusiastic about the health center’s initiative, much like those that followed Laurencin to UConn from the University of Virginia in 2008. This group includes Dr. Lakshmi S. Nair, who received two U.S. Army grants in 2010 totaling $764,000 to explore tissue regrowth using stem cells.

UConn’s commitment to research includes creating 330,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art laboratory space, renovations starting in 2011. The facility got a jumpstart on this effort in the fall when it opened the Cell and Genome Sciences Building, home to stem cell research. That new facility includes an incubator to grow new technology into businesses.

This year will bring significant strides in the development of the UConn Health Network. With the expected receipt of $100 million grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, the major renovations of the John Dempsey Hospital will proceed to coincide with initiatives for increased care, research and start-up businesses. The Health Network will partner UConn with other hospitals and providers around the state to address issues such as health disparity and health worker education.

“We need to create models and programs that not only benefit the health center but benefit the region and the state,” Laurencin said.

Bertolini: Leading Aetna Through Uncertain Times

For Mark Bertolini, 2011 marks his first full year at the helm of one of the country’s largest health insurers, and one of Greater Hartford’s largest employers.

And the recently named chief executive officer of Hartford-based Aetna will have his hands full.

Bertolini is expected to unveil a long-term plan for the company’s future in the spring. He has got to deal with a slumping economy that continues to shrink the insurer’s membership rolls — forcing difficult decisions about employment levels at the company in Hartford and around the country.

And he’s trying to come to grips with a little policy issue known as federal health care reform, which promises to make sweeping changes to the health care landscape.

All the uncertainty comes as Bertolini continues to transition into his new role, where he now pilots a 34,000-employee corporate giant.

“We are still in the midst of a tough economy so we need to manage the core business effectively,” Bertolini said. “There needs to be a level of oversight and assurance because in times of transition balls can be dropped. It’s important that I stay close to that.”

In the spring, Bertolini said he will unveil a long-term plan for the company, which he and his predecessor Ronald Williams have been developing for more than a year. The strategy will likely include plans to grow internationally, especially in India and China, where the regulatory environment may be thawing to allow private insurance companies to play a larger role in health care system. The fact that China has a larger middle class than the United States makes it a very attractive market.

At the same time, Aetna will likely continue boost investments in health information technology, a strategy the company already hinted at with the recent acquisition of Utah-based Medicity.

But Bertolini stopped short of promising earth shattering changes. “We are not going to buy General Motors,” Bertolini said jokingly.

Aetna is also projecting another drop in membership in the first quarter of 2011, but there’s no indication of how that will impact employment levels at the company. Aetna recently announced that it was laying off about 200 employees nationwide, including 50 in Connecticut. The company employs about 7,200 workers in the Nutmeg state.

In terms of health care reform, Bertolini said a lot of uncertainty still surrounds the law. If the individual mandate that requires everyone to buy health insurance is eventually ruled unconstitutional, that would have a major impact on insurance company’s ability to provide coverage to all individuals with preexisting conditions.

He said the current law presents a lot of opportunity for insurers because it will add 30 million more people into the system. But there are still far too few physicians to deal with that patient load.

Friedland: The Next Step in Fuel Cells

This year likely will be the year Robert Friedland thought 2010 would be.

While revenues at his Proton Energy Systems increased 5 percent last year, Friedland wanted the fuel cell manufacturer to grow by 20 percent, vaulting the Wallingford firm into sustainable profitability. That would mean an end to cash infusions from its owner and investors.

With three product launches and a Middle East expansion, Proton Energy Systems is poised to make that leap in 2011.

“This year has turned into one that has positioned us for rapid growth when the world economy recovers,” said Friedland, Proton co-founder, president and CEO.

Connecticut is a leader in research, development and manufacturing of fuel cells — a clean technology using hydrogen to generate power — and Proton has been the little brother in a state industry including UTC Power and FuelCell Energy. Founded in 1996, Proton struggled and was auctioned off in 2008, falling into the hands of flooring entrepreneur Tom Sullivan.

Proton has relied on Sullivan for cash injections because the company’s annual $15-$20 million revenue stream ebbs and flows. To stay sustainable without tapping more of Sullivan’s cash, Proton curtailed its high research-and-development spending to focus on selling products.

In 2010, Proton launched HOGEN C Series generator, a product that drew six orders already for 2011 from the lucrative semiconductor and material processing industries. Proton also launched a line of equipment for laboratory onsite generators, a $60-million market.

Proton gained notoriety in the environmental community with the launch of the Hydrogen Highway. SunHydro, a company owned by Sullivan using Proton’s technology, installed in October the first of 12 user-friendly fueling stations for fuel cell cars to run from Maine to Florida. By demystifying the technology to consumers, Friedland believes demand for fuel cells will increase long-term.

Proton’s biggest geographic expansion in 2010 was partnering with Saudi Arabia’s SupplyCore Middle East to sell hydrogen equipment to that region’s energy industries. Proton also expanded into China, Australia and Africa last year.

By moving into growing world markets, Proton could wait for North American and Europe to recover. Friedland believes that wait is over, as the third and fourth quarter revenues in 2010 were up almost 20 percent compared to 2009, positioning Proton for a landmark year in 2011.

Bello: Driving Changes To Serve Latino Community

Yvette Bello is looking for change. Not spare change or quick change. She wants systemic change.

As the executive director of Latino Community Services, a Hartford-based organization that provides case management and support services to people living with AIDS, she knows that change is both possible — and necessary — particularly within healthcare.

Bello should know. She spent six years with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, with a focus on diversity issues. Since joining Latino Community Services in 2005 and becoming executive director in 2007, change has been her mantra — whether it meant implementing more effective metrics, forging collaborations or expanding programming, goals which, she says, will continue to drive her organization in 2011.

As a leader, Bello sees adaptability as a key to her personal and organizational success. That has meant understanding demographic trends and challenges of a rapidly growing Latino population in Connecticut and adjusting programming accordingly, as Latinos have expanded in both size and diversity.

“Latinos are the second fastest growing ethnic group in the state [behind Asians],” Bello said, “and the community includes more Peruvians and Ecuadorians.” She notes that, according to the latest census data, nearly 18 percent of Connecticut’s residents speak a language other than English in the home — often Spanish.

That reality has significant impacts to healthcare and provides Bello’s organization with greater responsibility to address language barriers that often exist. Many medical facilities, she said, aren’t prepared for growing number of Spanish speaking patients — even as they are legally required to provide translation services. “There’s a big difference is care when an in-person translator is involved in the healthcare discussion versus someone on the phone.”

For her part, Bello is looking to address this gap by developing a fee-for-service medical interpreting program at Latino Community Services, which will train translators to be more effective advocates for patients. She sees the fee-for-service model as both an opportunity to support the organization’s bottom line and a chance to extend its reach to meet the needs of the broader Latino population.

It’ll mean more change, more work, and more collaboration, but Bello is comfortable with that. She’s reminded of the need for new ways of thinking every time she meets a new client with AIDS. “When that happens, I realize there were plenty of missed opportunities for that person,” Bello said. “Maybe it was not understanding the risks or not knowing where to turn for information and resources.”

As she pushes herself and her organization in 2011, Bello knows she won’t solve the problem of AIDS or healthcare for Latinos, but she’d like to make some dents — visible signs of change.

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Malloy now has to walk the walk Mon, 03 Jan 2011 23:30:04 +0000 Matt O'Connor

Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer Published: 10:19 p.m., Monday, January 3, 2011

As long ago as the summer of 2003, during an editorial board meeting with The Advocate of Stamford, the city’s then-mayor, Democrat Dan Malloy, said his name was being floated…


Brian Lockhart, Staff Writer
Published: 10:19 p.m., Monday, January 3, 2011

As long ago as the summer of 2003, during an editorial board meeting with The Advocate of Stamford, the city’s then-mayor, Democrat Dan Malloy, said his name was being floated as a potential candidate for governor to challenge Republican John G. Rowland.

“When a guy falls flat on his face on a daily basis, it tends to move the discussion,” Malloy said of Rowland, who resigned in 2004 amid a federal corruption investigation and impeachment inquiry.

More than seven years and one lost party primary later, Malloy can no longer criticize the state’s chief executive from the sidelines. On Wednesday, the job’s his.

Malloy, who captured a 6,404-vote victory over Greenwich Republican Tom Foley, will be sworn in at 2 p.m. at the Hartford Armory. He replaces retiring Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Rowland’s lieutenant, who won her own four-year term in 2006, the year Malloy lost the Democratic primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

And while the mood at the inaugural events will no doubt be festive, the new administration inherits a mess that could land any governor on his or her face: a two-year, $3.5 billion budget deficit, $19.4 billion in bonded debt and a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 9.0.

“The economic situation is still pretty precarious,” said Pete Gioia, of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “As of April, we were up 11,000 new jobs. By November, we were only up 8,000 new jobs.”

Longtime Democratic activist Jonathan Pelto said there are plenty of alarming words that can be used to describe the challenges facing the governor-elect.

“Enormous, incredible, overwhelming, significant, beyond comprehension,” Pelto said. “What happened, for all intents and purposes, there was an agreement between Rell and the Democratic Legislature to minimize an understanding of the magnitude of the problems.”

Foley said Malloy must convey to the public he will put an end to “business as usual.”

“It is a critical time and I meant what I said on the trail that Connecticut needs to get it right this time because we may not have another chance,” Foley said.


Malloy has wasted no time attempting to instill confidence in constituents who, because Bridgeport ran out of ballots, spent four days wondering whether he or Foley had won. Foley conceded Nov. 8.

Between late November and early December he formed transition, personnel and policy committees packed with experienced “thought leaders” to help build his cabinet and come up with ideas for running government and improving the state that “require no new spending.”

“We’ve got all different kinds of constituencies around the table, from the unions to community providers to the cities. A number of business people are there,” said Terry Edelstein, president of the Connecticut Community Providers Association, who is helping with social services issues.

And the governor-elect on almost a daily basis has announced commissioner appointments, signaling to voters the new administration is more than ready to take over.

“It’s to show state residents that he’s already governing,” said Richard Hanley, graduate director of journalism and interactive communications at Quinnipiac University.

Lobbyist and former state GOP Chairman Chris DePino said Malloy wisely picked several agency heads with experience in state and/or local government.

Ben Barnes, who, as secretary of the Office of Policy and Management will be Malloy’s budget czar, is a veteran of Stamford government and also served as operating officer for Bridgeport Public Schools.

Former state Senate President and ex-Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan is Malloy’s choice for commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services. Retired State Police Maj. Reuben Bradford will oversee the state’s public safety. One-time Department of Agriculture employee Steven Reviczky will return to run that agency.

Malloy reappointed Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services Commissioner Patricia Rehmer. He tapped East Hartford Mayor Melody Currey to run the Department of Motor Vehicles. Four-term state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, D-New Britain, a former OPM employee, will be in charge of administrative services.

State Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, singled out Malloy’s hiring of DeFronzo, with whom she worked on the Legislature’s Transportation Committee. The governor-elect wants DeFronzo to help lead efforts to deliver state services more efficiently.

“Don DeFronzo knows what needs to be done and has been in the political trenches for a long time. He seems to be a thoughtful, intelligent person who has the ability to work well with different groups on both sides of the aisle,” Boucher said.


Malloy received plaudits from many observers for convincing state Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz, of Fairfield, to lead the troubled Department of Children and Families.

“To bring someone of that talent and convince her to give up what is effectively a lifetime appointment … to tackle what in my opinion under the best of circumstances is the hardest job in state government is a great step forward for a new administration,” said state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield.

McKinney also complimented Malloy’s decision to establish an inner circle of senior advisers — Chief of Staff Tim Bannon, General Counsel Andrew McDonald, who is a good friend and current state senator from Stamford, and senior adviser Roy Occhiogrosso.

“That shows a sign of strength as a leader — that you’re willing to surround yourself with very strong, independent, forceful voices who may not always agree,” McKinney said.


Malloy does not unveil his first two-year state budget until Feb. 16, but observers said he must use his inauguration day speech to the General Assembly to begin preparing Connecticut for the worst.

“He really needs to show that he’s the adult in the room (and) cannot be giving away favors to special interests, that he represents all of Connecticut and his principal job is to master the word `no,’ ” Hanley said. “It’s a hard thing to make that speech. You’re basically telling people there will be pain that needs to be shared ” But if crafted appropriately, he can get the state behind him and get the residents to understand the gravity of the situation.”

Malloy said that on inauguration day he will “ask the people of Connecticut to respond to the greatest economic challenge this state has faced since the Great Depression.”

“For some people that may mean fewer services or less timely services. For others that may mean they’re asked to contribute more,” Malloy said.

But, Malloy added of Wednesday’s speech, “It’s not the budget address. It’s not going to include details that haven’t been worked out yet.”

Gioia said CBIA’s members want Malloy in his inaugural speech to embrace business. They want to hear, “he’s going to take care of the state budget problem in a sustainable manner with the least amount of tax increases possible.”


Some argue that means targeting state employees, their compensation and benefits. But there is skepticism of Malloy’s willingness to seek additional concessions from the unions, who brokered what critics considered a too-sweet deal with Rell in 2009 guaranteeing no layoffs for two years in exchange for $700 million in givebacks.

Malloy enjoyed major union support during the campaign.

“I think he understands what he’s facing, but the question I have in my mind is, for the support of that large group, what political agreement might have been made?” Boucher said.

Ron McLellan, a union president and 32-year state employee, said members believed Malloy had the leadership potential and vision “to get the state out the mess we’re in.”

“What I would really like to see (on inauguration day) is the governor-elect change the tone and the conversation to say we’ve got to stop the scapegoating of public service workers,” McLellan said. “We will be at the table like we’ve always been, but it’s too early to talk about specifics. What we’re looking for is fairness.”

For example, McLellan said, “on the surface it just appears the wealthy have done very well and the disparity between the haves and have-nots seems to be widening.”

McKinney argues Malloy’s inaugural speech needs to prioritize cutting government spending through consolidations, efficiencies and tough decisions before raising taxes.

“The business community needs to hear that so they can view Connecticut again as a stable place where they can keep and grow their business,” McKinney said.


Malloy has acknowledged the state needs increased revenues. But some believe that, having had the experience of running a large city in wealthy lower Fairfield County, Malloy also appreciates concerns that Hartford too often relies on the so-called Gold Coast to fill the coffers.

In recent years, lower Fairfield County Democrats fought income tax increases proposed by their legislative leadership. And Malloy last month issued a press release backing Democratic President Barack Obama’s deal extending tax cuts for not only the middle class, but the wealthy.

Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, a one-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said while cities and towns obviously do not want to see cuts in state aid, tax hikes on residents will be an added burden. He believes Malloy understands that from his 14 years as mayor.

“If they turn around and tax Fairfield County with an income tax (or) sales tax increases, that’s going to have an impact on our people. We don’t even get a nickel on the dollar back of what we send to Hartford, and that’s real tough in this economy. The people here are hurting,” Marconi said. “We are in the trenches, and Dan’s experience having been there is going to give him a great deal of understanding. We’re all very excited to have a previous municipal official be the governor.”

Others who have reason to believe Malloy commiserates with the pressures they face during the economic crisis said they still remain concerned about the impact of his budget.

“We don’t feel safe,” said James Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. Malloy was the group’s president 10 years ago. “He did make a campaign promise to level-fund education aid, but that means he has to find over half a billion in new state dollars.”

Malloy said, “I’m probably going to disappoint all of them on some level.”

“I don’t think most people have wrapped their minds around what a $3.5 billion deficit means when you have no arsenal to use,” he said, “when you’ve exhausted the rainy day fund, exhausted your ability to borrow, cleared every account.”

DePino said it is important for Connecticut’s “opinion leaders” to give the new governor a chance.

“The banner for Gov.-elect Malloy is, `We should gather around and root for Connecticut now,’ ” DePino said. “We’re on the edge of a precipice and it’s a long way down if we fall.”

Staff Writer Brian Lockhart can be reached at

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