The data is clear: Paid family leave would benefit Connecticut

This week I am in Connecticut with the state’s Campaign for Paid Family Leave, a coalition of advocates pushing for the passage of a smart system of paid leave. This system is entirely employee-funded. It will offer workers 12 weeks of paid time off to welcome a baby or care for themselves or an ill loved one. It will be paid at 100 percent of a worker’s earnings, which is essential to ensuring that lower-income workers can afford to use the benefit.

Legislators should respect UConn’s professional employees

As a student at the University of Connecticut, it breaks my heart to see the non-faculty professional employees being disrespected by state political leaders and the news media. It is shameful that some legislators are taking a “victory lap” after members of the University of Connecticut Professional Employees Association (UCPEA) decided to withdraw their contract due to a clerical error.

Connecticut needs a new, more inclusive, form of capitalism

Recently there has been much discussion about the need for municipal and state workers to face the new reality of current budgetary constraints. As a Hartford taxpayer, I recognize that current labor agreements are not sustainable, and a failure to restructure health and pension benefits could lead to bankruptcy and an even harsher reality. But in fairness, I also feel there is a need for a more honest and holistic discussion of this new economic reality.

We can re-fire the Connecticut and American manufacturing powerhouse

It is no secret that what has become known as the sell-out has delivered an ample supply of low skilled, low wage and low-benefited jobs to replace the mass exodus of good paying and skilled American manufacturing jobs. Connecticut and New England have been states hit hardest by the loss of these jobs. Not long ago, folks could opt out of college to pursue trade school and expect the opportunity of well paying manufacturing jobs in industries like hardware, tools, plating, arms, naval or aeronautical. These opportunities have virtually disappeared, the victim of plant closings and shifts to overseas production.

Connecticut’s budget needs structural change

Last week, the governor’s office announced and the legislature approved cuts totaling $78 million. Even though I believe this is only a Band-Aid to a structural problem our state government faces, it is a better way to resolve our deficit woes without going after our hard-working taxpayers once again. This deficit mitigation plan only addresses this fiscal year’s current gap. What has to be addressed before the conclusion of this session is the $900 million deficit we are facing in the year ahead.

Minimum wage jobs cannot adequately support families in Connecticut

It is clear that minimum wage jobs cannot adequately support families in a state like Connecticut. The Federal Poverty Level, ­which is used widely in determining eligibility for various kinds of assistance, for a family of three is $20,160 and for a family of two is $16,020. The time is now for Connecticut to join the national chorus for fair wages across the board. Empirical evidence shows that when we increase our wages, the median income goes up.

Connecticut’s vanishing revenue

As income inequality rises, revenue declines. This is the counter-intuitive finding of states near and far from Connecticut which depend heavily on income tax. This is also why Connecticut is in the midst of another budget crisis and why more are expected.

Saving jobs and protecting tourism is a winning combination for Connecticut

The recent groundbreaking for a casino just north of the Massachusetts border in Springfield promises to draw more customers from Connecticut than from their own region. Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes are working to remain competitive in this new environment with a strategically located, jointly run facility that will directly compete with new gaming options on our border. Last session, the Connecticut General Assembly allowed the tribes to work together and accept proposals from towns interested in hosting this new facility. The tribes have been good neighbors and friends to the state for 13 generations, and business partners for the past two decades. They are asking the state to support a plan to protect jobs, business and revenue. Doing so is a win-win for all.

A Connecticut story for the U.S. Supreme Court justices

I was nervous. This was my first case before the United States Supreme Court. But here I was, ready to argue against Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association. In this case, a few public school teachers claim they shouldn’t have to pay union dues because it violates their First Amendment rights. A conservative ruling would be bad, extending to Connecticut teachers, many of whom went to jail in the 1970s to win improvements in collective bargaining….

CSCU president could have addressed protest instead of breezing by

Last Thursday, this year’s President of the Connecticut’s Board of Regents for Higher Education, Mark Ojakian, hurried past a large group of AAUP protesters outside of his scheduled Board of Regents meeting at the old Phoenix Insurance building on Woodland Street in Hartford. It probably never occurred to this right-hand man of the governor that he was presented with a rare opportunity. In Ojakian’s defense, his boss probably would not have seized the opportunity either.