Time to confront Connecticut’s looming financial crisis

Here we go again. Less than a year after a record 123 days without a budget, the legislature careens towards yet another budget crisis with 11th-hour negotiations and no clear path forward for addressing Connecticut’s looming financial crisis. Regardless of this year’s “fix,” the next governor and legislature will face a gaping $5 billion hole for the next two years that threatens our families, our jobs, and our employers. Last year’s crisis gave us a preview of what is in store if we stay on the current path: cuts to towns for police; cuts to education for our children; and cuts to programs that support the most vulnerable in our state.

Connecticut’s eviction rate slightly higher than average

The United States has been facing a housing affordability crisis for at least a decade, and it should come as no surprise that Connecticut’s cities have not been immune. The nation’s eviction rate peaked in 2006, when 7.5 percent of renter-occupied households had eviction filings made against them, and 3.1 percent were evicted from their homes. Connecticut’s eviction rate peaked earlier, at 3.9 percent in 2003, but remains slightly higher than the nationwide rate.

Congress must protect vital discount prescription drug program

For more than 376,000 Connecticut residents each year, their medical needs are provided by a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a community health center which gives patients top-level primary, dental and behavioral health care at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit. This includes First Choice Health Centers in East Hartford, Manchester and Vernon, which serves more than 21,000 people annually, many of whom otherwise cannot afford regular access to medical care.

A voting system in which the majority rules

In 48 states, the winner of the state’s popular vote is awarded all of its electoral votes. This is called winner-take-all. According to four lawsuits in four states (two red, two blue), winner-take-all is unconstitutional. It violates the doctrine of one person, one vote, the suits allege. It also disenfranchises everyone who voted for a losing presidential candidate. Plaintiffs want states to adapt what’s called proportional voting. That’s when a state’s electoral votes are awarded according to a candidate’s percentage of its popular vote. But if the plaintiffs prevail, they may not achieve what they say they will.

None of our politicians are leaders

We already knew that Donald Trump is morally and ethically unfit. Many voters ignored his history as a shyster in business. The role as president has amplified his mindless self-serving self-interest for personal gain. Mafia criminality is an apt description. All the ongoing exploitation and corruption will be exposed completely. Hillary Clinton’s would have been subtle, but there. Trump’s is blatant so that we can’t miss it. We now have to take accountability for what is coming next. Our choice. Our legacy.

New restrictions on co-pay assistance programs will cost patients more

It is no secret that healthcare costs continue to rise, with premium increases topping 58 percent since 2006, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation; but what may be surprising to lawmakers in Hartford is that patient out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, co-insurance and higher specialty pharmacy tiers have outpaced premium increases by four times, which speaks directly to tactics being taken by health plans and their pharmacy benefit managers.

Regionalize to save money? Okay, show me the numbers

Today it is often stated that pushing municipalities to share services is critical to solving the state’s financial problems. I doubt that.
First, municipalities have already regionalized services more than many realize. Second, while the term regionalization is hastily deployed, business plans showing the savings and who gets them are rarely seen. I suspect many of the ideas floated would not stand up to analysis.

A Filipino-American in Connecticut

Friday was April 13, 2018 — an ordinary day, but my work schedule allowed me to take the commuter train to New York City to pick up my newly issued Filipino passport. Here in Connecticut, as a veteran and now dual citizen, there is one more fight to ensure that the Connecticut Veterans Memorial in Hartford finally recognizes and chisels in the “Philippine-American War” in honor and memory of those who sacrificed their lives in that forgotten, conflict-soaked war long ago at the dawn of the American Century.

Universal background checks — Congress, what are you waiting for?

Universal background checks should be federal law at this juncture of our nation’s history. The fact that universal background checks are not mandated can reasonably be described as a failure of representative democracy. In the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.), it’s reasonable to ask – could a universal background check system have prevented the entire incident?

What the Parkland shootings should mean to Connecticut

What does the tragic shooting at the Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018 mean for Connecticut? After Connecticut suffered the tragedy of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, Connecticut tightened up its gun control laws to the tightest among the 50 states. The recommendation to ban bump stocks that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon is welcome. To require more people to have background checks is also welcome. But this is not what the Parkland School shooting means for Connecticut.