Many members of the General Assembly have promised to address the state’s declining population through public policies that both keep people here and attract newcomers, but we have yet to see much in the way of concrete solutions that aren’t going to cost the state money we don’t have. But one solution that has the potential to improve the state’s economy, draw in and keep talent, all at little to no cost to the state government, is paid family and medical leave.
Illness is often unpredictable. When a person without insurance seeks care for a broken bone or the flu, they receive treatment regardless of their ability to pay. That is because we live in a compassionate society — but the treatment is not free. Taxpayers end up shouldering the burden through higher state taxes or increased provider costs. Economists call this phenomenon “free riding.” Many people are willing to risk going without health insurance knowing that they can get care (and others will pay) if there is a true emergency. … Connecticut can improve healthcare access while controlling the premiums insurance holders pay. I propose that all residents of the state take responsibility for their healthcare costs by either buying insurance or contributing a fraction of their income to healthcare savings accounts.
In this 4-minute video, Tom Fiorentio, president of the Arc of Connecticut board of directors, talks about state employee overtime and other issues related to the state’s funding for care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Recently I wrote about the difficulty, even impossibility, of funding Connecticut’s ever-growing pension liability. The article elicited a number of comments, and all agreed that something must be done. Here are my own recommendations for reform. First, a relatively small but significant first step in reforming the system would be to freeze pension benefits for all existing state employees not covered by union contractual obligations. These employees would include non-union members and employees of the state’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches. It would also include all administrators in the University of Connecticut system.
The majority of workers in Hartford and other Connecticut cities are paid less than $15 per hour. That information is found in a 2016 report of the Boston Federal Reserve. An even larger percentage of women and persons of color in those cities earn less than $15. Surprisingly, more than 30 percent of all Connecticut workers earn less than $15. Who are low-wage workers? They are home health and nurse aides, substitute teachers and classroom assistants, fast food and other food service workers, ticket takers, ushers, dishwashers, janitors, cleaners and housekeepers, Bradley airport baggage handlers, cashiers, retail clerks, child-care workers, hotel desk clerks, and dozens more.
As Connecticut struggles to embrace policies and programs that promote innovation and entrepreneurial exploration, neighboring states appear far more focused on long-term strategies for establishing a viable pipeline of workers able to meet marketplace demands. Connecticut should take note: Our state is failing its residents by not adequately focusing on early education needs, by not ensuring a well-lighted path to higher-education opportunities and by not doing everything in its power to make sure a college education is accessible and affordable.
If there’s a quote I’m tired of hearing, it’s the one groundlessly attributed to Einstein, which defines insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Of course there’s a reason the saying is so common, at least in Connecticut: a lot of crazy repetition goes on at our state capitol. Take the fiscal policy of the Democratic party since they’ve had total control of state government.
The General Assembly has authorized the creation of the Connecticut Pension Sustainability Commission which is tasked in 2018 to evaluate a potentially significant solution for funding State’s pension liabilities: the in-kind contribution of the state’s real assets. Connecticut has $33.8 billion in underfunded pensions and our five largest cities owe another $2.1 billion. These liabilities, coupled with other legacy obligations like retiree health care and bond debt service, are the source of the “crowding out” problem with the state’s budget – as well as municipal budgets – that makes our structural deficits so maddeningly difficult to reverse.
Whatever is illegal and immoral becomes legal and moral in direct proportion to local, state, and federal governments’ needs for tax revenues. Therein lies Congress’s solution to the DACA debate. All it has to do is declare immediately all “Dreamers” as legal immigrants and levy a special tax against them for the privilege of being legitimized.
Last Wednesday marked the beginning of the 2018 legislative session in Connecticut, and a new opportunity to steer our state in the right direction. To that end, the Connecticut Working Families Organization released its 2018 legislative agenda, a series of concrete and common sense policy recommendations designed to spur economic growth by empowering workers, reducing inequality, and increasing regional competitiveness. For Connecticut’s economy to grow, we need to create the conditions that make success possible for the vast majority of working class families in our state, just as many of our neighboring states have already done.
As we enter the second year of the Trump administration, the president’s inability to advance a firm, coherent U.S. position toward Russia persists despite a torrent of belligerent behavior by the Kremlin toward the West. Indeed, on the day he announced a new national security strategy that purported to challenge Russia, President Donald Trump could not help but publicly exult about the unctuous phone call he had received from Russian President Vladimir Putin the day before.
The “Students First” plan proposed by the CSCU Board of Regents, intended to save $28 million by consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges, has engendered frustration among system faculty due to the lack of visible research or analysis proving that the plan will realize the projected savings. Faculty, therefore, were taken by surprise when a recent CT Mirror article reported that the accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had given feedback on a draft plan for the Students First initiative submitted to it by the Board of Regents.