A recent CTViewpoints opinion — Connecticut’s four year public state university graduation rates fall short — correctly observed that Connecticut’s state universities “have a responsibility to help students graduate.” Their success would “provide the state with more educated individuals equipped to enter the workforce and ultimately, enable them to become more productive citizens.” The good news is that the CSCU universities are in fact successful in achieving that objective. But that was not the conclusion of the author of the op-ed, who argued that six-year graduation rates of the CSCU universities were unacceptably low.
Short-term healthcare plans aren’t fundamentally effective for Connecticut families, and medical insurance now has become a burden to society. I have grave concerns about the Trump administration’s new rules regarding healthcare insurance, which allow the sale of cheaper health care plans on the market. These plans are originally intended only for short-term use.
What exactly does a comptroller do? It’s probably the question I’m asked most often on the campaign trail, but the truth is that the office of State Comptroller has the potential to be one of the most important, influential public offices in state government. Why? Because the economic crisis that Connecticut faces today has its roots in a political problem, not just an economic one.
We hear every day that the national economy is strong. Not true here. Connecticut has been left out and left behind. Across our state, people are struggling. Businesses are leaving. Job opportunities are scarce. Home values are falling. Spirits are down and trust between citizens and Hartford is broken. This once vibrant New England leader is on life support. November’s election will determine whether we continue to sink or begin to revive our economy and restore hope. We are at a tipping point, and only Republicans can bring us back.
The contrast could not be more stark. As the pace of preparation accelerates for the annual induction ceremony for the Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame in Connecticut, the daily headlines trumpet a more hesitant, even hostile, view of immigrants and their continuing contributions to our state and nation. Immersed in the histories of immigrants thriving in our state, historically and currently, the invective aimed lately at the next generation of immigrants is concerning, as they, like others before them, seek to contribute to this nation while providing their families with the safety and opportunity that America has long exemplified.
Two hours before dawn on August 22, 1991, a tie vote in the state Senate was broken by Lowell Weicker’s lieutenant governor, whose action guaranteed that a state income tax would be imposed on the people of Connecticut. The spending spree enabled by that infamous vote was the chief cause of our subsequent economic decline. Since the tax took effect, we rank dead last in economic growth among the 50 states. It matters who breaks ties in the Connecticut Senate.
The continuous unfolding news accounts of Haddam Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and her exercise of free speech rights by taking a knee on July 16 and kneeling on both knees at (the July 30) Monday’s Board of Selectmen fortnightly meetings have drawn the attention of the state and nation, with a mix of ire and support by local residents and veterans as her actions were vilified loudly by political campaigners for statewide office, and later with an additional pile on by other candidates.
Low completion rates are a problem at some of Connecticut’s four-year public state institutions. A recent report outlining the number of bachelor’s degree earners reveals a significant gap in the graduation rates between the four-year public state institutions that make up the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and the University of Connecticut. Although in-state, undergraduate tuition costs at each of the five public institutions are the same, their graduation rates are vastly different. The CSCU graduation rates are lagging behind those at UConn, and strategies need to be instituted in the CSCU system to correct this discrepancy.
For years, legislators sang the praises of juvenile review boards, because community-based JRBs helped kids succeed more frequently– and more cheaply – than the juvenile justice system. But when the General Assembly moved juvenile justice from one state agency to another, it neglected to move the funding for JRBs that serve our largest cities. That means fewer second chances and fewer essential services – mainly for young people of color and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Our state frequently cannot find the money to support these youth, though the funding for the more expensive strategies of prosecution and even incarceration is never in short supply.
Based on a new study by Wirepoints released in June, Connecticut once again makes the rogue’s gallery of pensions for state employees. Most analyses of pensions focus on the unfunded liability – amounts due for which no funds have been provided. This type of analysis leads to the logical conclusion that more funding – more taxpayer dollars – is required to close the funding gap. Connecticut’s current governor and legislature have indeed been very good at raising taxes – the largest increases in our history over the last few years – but still unfunded pension obligations continue to grow.
It is obvious that arts and culture keep our towns and cities hopping and vital, especially when you see restaurants filled on nights that theater, museums and galleries have events. Our elected leaders understand how important arts, culture and creativity are for building strong communities. Candidates are also learning that over 90 percent of Connecticut’s arts and culture supporters vote. With this year’s gubernatorial election in high gear, as well as many other legislative races, it’s important that we hear from the candidates on these issues, particularly as Connecticut’s funding for arts and culture has continually declined, bucking the national trend and while surrounding states are increasing their investment. This is a missed opportunity to have a real impact on our state’s economic health, our education system, and quality of life.
I arrived home from classes excited about the warm weather that guaranteed I would play soccer with my friends that evening. As I was finishing my reading assignment for 10th grade English, I received a phone call from my mom informing me my dad was at the police station for a minor traffic violation. Naively I thought to myself, “He’ll be home tonight,” but as I entered the lobby I was greeted by my mother with tears racing down her face. Immediately, my heart sank as I heard the words, “They called ICE on him, he’s being deported.”