A big mistake: Defunded services to Connecticut’s most at-risk youth

Last week we learned that state funds for critical programs that serve high-risk youth and families was “swept” as “an inadvertent casualty” of the transfer of juvenile justice services and its funds from the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to the Court Support Services Division (CSSD), a branch of the Department of Justice.  The transfer resulted in a $7 million shortfall for DCF-funded behavioral health services. Letters have been sent to providers informing them funding for these programs will be eliminated as of June 30, 2018.  And the high-risk children are those with substance use, mental health, and behavioral problems severe enough to land them in juvenile court and in jeopardy of out-of-home placement. One hundred kids and their families, in one Waterbury program alone, are to be terminated from services.

Why the CCSU Senate voted for Ojakian’s resignation, Regents’ abolition

On Monday, April 30, the Central Connecticut State University Senate voted by an overwhelming majority (38-1) through a secret ballot to call for President Mark Ojakian’s resignation, a halt to implementation of all parts of the “Students First” consolidation plan not already rejected by NEASC (the regional accrediting agency), the abolition of the current Board of Regents and its replacement by a body or bodies which will help rather than hinder the colleges and universities, and full funding for pubic higher education in our state.

For the sake of its future, Connecticut should embrace gene-editing science

Curing disease.  Growing healthier, more sustainable crops. Adapting energy and environmental needs while moderating demands on our changing world. These have long been some of the most complex scientific goals facing researchers—many of whom conduct their experiments here in Connecticut. Now, an emerging technology – gene editing – is changing the way scientists conduct their research. It will fundamentally change the way science addresses current and future agricultural, medical and scientific challenges.

State leaders must act to create sustainable, equitable, inclusive growth

Whatever your opinion on the recommendations set forth in the recently released report from the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, the alternative being the status quo, is demonstrably worse.  The report confirms well-known facts about the structural issues that threaten the vitality of our state and makes a compelling case for a comprehensive, long view approach to addressing them.

The report also makes clear that there is no viable way forward without shared sacrifice. 

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.

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.

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.

Medicare Savings Program cuts are harming low-income seniors

I am writing to express my concerns over the funding of the Medicare Savings Program here in the state of Connecticut. I am a social worker. I work with low-income seniors all across the state of Connecticut and this issue is extremely important to my clients. I am writing to inform you of what the cuts to the Medicare Savings Plan will do to many low- income seniors across the state.

Let’s act for — not against — prosperity

At some point, once informed by the outcomes of studies, action is needed. Over the past two decades, there has been a stream of studies on the importance of the state’s transportation infrastructure — all concluding that additional investment is essential. … Four studies, four warnings about the consequences of doing nothing and four sets of similar recommendations. It is time to act — during this legislative session — to restore the State Transportation Fund to meet our immediate needs and to commit to a diverse and sustainable stream of funding to meet our long-term transportation, economic and quality-of-life needs.

Paid family medical leave proposals hurt those they’re trying to protect

One key exemption included in a pair of paid family and medical leave proposals provides all the evidence Connecticut lawmakers need to vote against these costly new mandates. Advocates say businesses have “a moral responsibility” to provide the benefit to their employees, yet the public sector is exempted from both bills, with state and local government workers left behind.

Let’s move the Capitol back to New Haven

For those of you who blinked and missed it, you just gave Hartford a $550-million-dollar bailout courtesy of Connecticut’s elected leadership. They refused to let our state’s capital go bankrupt. Instead, our governor and legislators established Connecticut’s Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) and imbued it with super powers to save key municipalities from self-destruction. Therefore, since this is the recipe for success, there is only one thing that can be done.

The red herring in the Fiscal Stability Commission’s impressive report

With the many and varied issues the state of Connecticut currently faces, our legislature can ill afford wasting time on any issue that will not contribute to immediate fiscal relief or long-term fiscal health.  The new report issued by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth outlines a number of critical issues that demand action, all intended to improve the state’s fiscal standing. Unfortunately, the report also includes suggested changes to collective bargaining for public employees: changes far more likely to distract from larger problems than to result in significant savings to the state.