Gov. Dannel Malloy has reached out to the retailer-alcohol industry in attempt to get his Blue Law reforms through the General Assembly. He indicated to reporters this afternoon that he might have a “my way or the highway” reputation. “Contrary to what is said about me, I am always willing to compromise for the greater good and I believe this goes a long way toward the greater good,” he said.
Archive for February, 2012
Of course it will be lawmakers, not voters, who will decide whether it becomes law, but here is the executive summary from the National Coalition for Safer Roads, which is promoting the use of red-light cameras to catch drivers running traffic signals and giving the revenue to eager towns and cities. The poll was conducted for them by the Global Strategy Group.
|“EXECUTIVE SUMMARY RESULTS OF CONNECTICUT STATEWIDE SURVEY
(602 interviews conducted January 26-29, 2012 among registered CT voters
Margin of error +/-4.0% at the 95% confidence level)
The specific measure in the legislature (“a
measure that would enable cities with 60,000 or more residents to install automated cameras at intersections and mail fines of at least $124 to traffic violators caught on camera”) receives similar support (67% support/30% oppose).
The best reason given for supporting the measure is that red light cameras reduce accidents by 25% at intersections with the feature. Fully 79% of voters found this to be a very or somewhat convincing reason to support red light cameras at busy intersections.
While only just over half of voters (52%) were aware that efforts were being made to install red light cameras, the high level of support after only a brief explanation points to the obviousness of the benefits.
As further proof, no message against the measure was able to raise major doubts among more than 31% of voters about this potential policy.
Health care facilities, including “hospitals, nursing homes, residential health-care facilities, home health care agencies, hospice programs operating in this state, institutions, facilities, or agencies that provide services to persons with mental health illnesses or developmental disabilities” would be prohibited from flushing unused medication down toilets and sinks, under a bill before the Environment Committee. The legislation, Senate Bill 88, is aimed at intercepting medications from sewage treatment facilities, septic systems and Long Island Sound. It will be subject to a public hearing Wednesday at 11 ‘o’clock in Room 1-C of the Legislative Office Building.
The bill would require health-care institutions to develop plans for proper disposal by January of next year, while the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, along with the Division of State Police within the Department of Emergency Management and Public Protection, the Connecticut Pharmacists Association and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association, would develop a program for the collection of unwanted pharmaceuticals. It would require secure collection boxes in local police headquarters and State Police barracks for 24-hour drop-offs, no questions asked. The material would eventually get tranferred to licensed biomedical waste treatment facilities. A public awareness program would accompany the effort.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s budget would cut about $11 million in line item funding for attractions including the Stamford Center for the Arts, the Discovery Museum and Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport, the Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven and the Maritime Center in Norwalk. Overall there is supposed to be an extra million bucks in funding next year, but various organizations told the Appropriations Committee yesterday that they are worried about their budgets getting disrupted while they compete against each other for funding.
Here’s part of Ben Barnes’ statement just handed to Capitol reporters:
“Let me be clear, the proposed budget does not eliminate funding for arts organizations…The system we want to work toward will demand that accountability, and the competitive nature by which the grants will be allocated could in fact increase funding for some groups. And just as importantly, it will let taxpayers know that their hard-earned dollars are going to worthwhile projects that enrich their lives and make Connecticut a more attractive place to live and to visit – projects that truly rely on state funding…We are asking for sacrifices from groups across the spectrum, including many state agencies…”
Here’s the whole statement:
I would like to clarify any misunderstandings about the proposal to change the way the State funds arts organizations.
Let me be clear, the proposed budget does not eliminate funding for arts organizations.
Our goals in making these changes are simple – we want to create a system that demands accountability standards and sets performance benchmarks for organizations that receive state money. The current system of simply allocating an earmark does not do that. It does not ask the organization to disclose how that money is being spent, how much the funding provided by the state contributes to the entirety of that organization’s budget or how many people take part in a given exhibit or event.
The system we want to work toward will demand that accountability, and the competitive nature by which the grants will be allocated could in fact increase funding for some groups. And just as importantly, it will let taxpayers know that their hard earned dollars are going to worthwhile projects that enrich their lives and make Connecticut a more attractive place to live and to visit – projects that truly rely on state funding.
We are asking for sacrifices from groups across the spectrum, including many state agencies. I believe these are reasonable asks for any group that receives state money during these incredibly challenging fiscal times.
Coming from local government, I appreciate that some arts and cultural organizations depend on the earmarked state grants and that they build their budgets around it. We appreciate their need for continuity of funding. To that end, the Department of Economic and Community Development will develop a phase-in approach for funding in FY 2013 that guarantees existing earmark recipients will receive 80% of the allocation they received the prior year, with the remainder being allocated on competitive basis. Commissioner Smith will provide more details in March about that process.
In addition, we will work with the legislature to segregate funding for arts and cultural organizations from the tourism marketing account in order to clarify our objective that this funding be used to support arts organizations.
This administration has a strong track record of negotiating on contentious issues, including the state budget. We are always willing to discuss our proposals with advocates for the arts and look forward to a solution that will meet our goals while maintaining important cultural institutions.”
Connecticut’s junior senator, who at this time next year will be the senior senator, was born on this date in 1946.
Ouch! Gov. Malloy’s budget proposes slashing arts, culture, tourism grants by $2.35 million. Beardsley Zoo would be whacked for $354,350. But fear not….
It reads like a boulevard of broken artistic dreams. Among the items being “zeroed out” of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget is $378,712 for the Stamford Center for the Arts; $531,525 for the Maritime Center Authority; $1.98 million for the Culture, Tourism and Art Grant; $210,396 for the CT Trust for Historic Preservation; $2.1 million for the Connecticut Humanities Council; $797,287 for the New Haven Festival of Arts and Ideas; $354,350 for Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo; $620,112 for Mystic Aquarium; $378,712 for the Palace Theater in New Haven; $95,674 for the Stowe/Twain Homes; and $150,000 for the Ivoryton Playhouse.
The grants structure, if approved by the General Assembly, would roll Arts, Culture and Tourism grants into a Statewide Marketing account “for better coordination of program spending,” Malloy’s budget says. Budgeted for $15 million in the current fiscal year, it would rise to $25 million in Malloy’s budget.
Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said that the recommended cuts may not mean the end of state support for landmarks like the zoo. It’s just going to get more competitive.
“We think that while we appreciate the importance of so many cultural instituions, we think they should compete for public funds based on their management and the way they provide the best value to Connecticut taxpayers,” Barnes said in a Wednesday night interview.
UConn Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other marijuana reform candidates had scheduled a demonstration outside the Capitol this morning. But the event was postponed until tomorrow, after news services reported yesterday of today’s plans on the “opening day” of the Legislature. Reporters were walking around the Capitol – the event was scheduled for 8 until 10 – looking for likely stoners, to no avail.
The governor’s budget proposal this afternoon will include $50 million in Educational Cost Sharing money, targeting low-performing schools with $40 million. Here’s his release:
“(HARTFORD, CT) – As part of his proposal to reform education from early childhood through college, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced an additional $50 million in Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funding to schools. Nearly $40 million will go to newly-established Alliance Districts, made up of the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts – conditioned upon the districts’ implementation of key education reform strategies. An additional $4.5 million in competitive funding will be offered to all districts - with a preference for the 30 Alliance districts, to enable even more ambitious innovations and deeper reforms.
“It is critical that we get to the schools that are really struggling-and do it quickly,” said Governor Malloy. “We can get good teachers into classrooms, and hire the best superintendents and administrators, but we must address the overarching resources issue and fund the programs that will directly reach the kids who are at a disadvantage because their school is underperforming. We have held towns harmless, no one is losing ECS funding-which sends a clear signal to our children that we will make the investment and deliver on our promise of high-quality education for every student in Connecticut.”
“I strongly believe that every child in our state deserves the opportunity to get a quality education, regardless of where they live. That is why one of our first priorities after taking office was to fully fund the ECS for all towns, and that is why we are making this targeted investment – to give that equal chance to children who happen to attend an under-performing school,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.
In his December 20, 2011 letter to the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly, Governor Malloy identified a set of principles and themes to guide the state’s education reform efforts in 2012. He addressed school funding, proposing to “deliver more resources, targeted to districts with the greatest need – provided that they embrace key reforms that position our students for success”.
ALLIANCE DISTRICTS WILL RECEIVE CONDITIONAL FUNDING
The Governor’s proposal identifies the state’s 30 lowest-performing school districts as participants in a Performance Alliance between these districts and the State, which makes them eligible for significant increases in conditional state funding. In order to receive its allotted increase, each Alliance District must submit a reform plan that may include elements of reform strategies in the Governor’s proposal. The State Department of Education will consider these plans for approval.
The list of reform strategies from which Alliance Districts may select include: tiered district interventions for schools based on school-level student performance; additional learning time including extended school day and year programming; the implementation of career ladders for school personnel; a professional development system informed by educator evaluations; plans to ensure K-3 reading mastery; coordination of early childhood education services; the establishment of a community schools approach by establishing wraparound services for students with linkages to health and social service providers; and other strategies as determined by the Education Commissioner.
Alliance Districts will have new funding phased in at the rate of 2.47 percent of the gap between what they currently receive in ECS funding and the new formula amount. Other districts will receive 1.4 percent of the funding amount gap.
“The Governor’s proposal acknowledges that resource constraints are one obstacle to many of our low-performing districts’ ability to improve their schools – while recognizing that increased funding alone will not improve student achievement,” Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said. “Rather, it is essential that these districts also embrace reforms rooted in best practices. The conditional funding model provides added resources and increased accountability. We look forward to working in alliance with these low-performing districts as they implement their reforms and elevate their achievement levels.”
ECS FUNDING 2013-2014
* 30 school districts – the Alliance Districts – will receive the most substantial increases in state funding, conditioned upon implementation of reform plans.
* A total of 130 towns will receive more ECS funding than they did in 2011-2012.
* No town will see funding drop from 2011-2012 levels.
* There will be a new, more current child poverty measure. It will also capture child poverty in all parts of the state.
* Household income data will be streamlined and replaced by annually updated Median Household Income (MHI) data.”