Economic summit, Malloy on municipal aid, absentee ballots available

October 11, 2011
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Here are last week’s political news highlights from and about Connecticut.

On Thursday there was an economic summit at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford hosted by Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy. The event featured Moody’s economist Steven Cochrane who was there on behalf of scheduled guest speaker Mark Zandi. North Carolina was reportedly praised by the guest speakers as an example of what Connecticut should do to attract jobs especially in the technology sector. Consultant Mitch Horowitz was quoted by the Hartford Courant as advising on the creation of “industry-university partnerships” such as the one between the University of Connecticut Health Center with Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “discover the genetic basis for preventing, treating and curing human disease, and to enable research for the global biomedical community.” The partnership consists of $809 million in funding to the University of Connecticut Health Center from federal government grants, and philanthropy and service income over the next twenty years for creating a research institute there for the Jackson Laboratory’s purpose. The Connecticut government will add $291 million to the Health Center, about two-thirds of which ($192 million) will be in secured construction loans, according to a press release more than a week ago, which also adds that 6,800 jobs will be created for that period of time.

Meanwhile, Governor Malloy announced the launch of Startup Connecticut, a state program coordinated by the Startup America Partnership, which is a nonprofit private partnership aimed at improving entrepreneurial skills for the purpose of stimulating job creation. Startup American Partnership CEO Timothy “Scott” Case called Connecticut “a tremendous place to start and grow a business.” According to Moody’s Analytics economist Steven Cochrane, about 50 to 60 percent of Connecticut’s industries create jobs compared to a national average of 70 or 80 percent.

The State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) announced that it filed a grievance with Office of Policy and Management Director of Labor Relations Linda Yelmini in reaction to information that they received that “appointed officials, managers and top agency officials” received longevity bonuses this month. According to SEBAC, part of the ratified alternative tentative agreement that it signed with the state government, which included $1.6 billion in concessions from SEBAC over fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and $21.5 billion over twenty years with the same cost-saving provisions, these three groups of people would sacrifice longevity payments at at least the size of the union members’ sacrifices. The grievance was signed by SEBAC Counsel and Chief Negotiator Dan Livingston

The Hartford Courant reported that Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Dan Esty “has been paid more than $1.2 million in speaking fees since 2006” by companies that are to a certain extent under his department’s jurisdiction. Critics deem this activity as conflict of interest with these companies, while Commissioner Esty defined it as part of his job back then as professor and policy expert who was sharing his views with them.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced that the Connecticut General Fund is calculated to end this fiscal year at a $78.9 million surplus, $75 million of which is expected to be used for paying off the costs for the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, enacted by Governor Dannel Malloy. The rest of the projected surplus will be spent on paying off the 2009 Economic Recovery Notes, according to a pres release.

On Tuesday, Governor Malloy told municipal leaders during a meeting of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities at the Connecticut Convention Center that he will make efforts to preserve state aid to municipalities regardless of what the economic conditions will be.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) announced that its Liquor Control Division conducted a compliance operation with the Newtown Police Department and the Putnam Police Department of sixteen businesses in Newtown and seven businesses in Putnam. According to a press release, three of them in Newtown and five of them in Putnam were alleged to have sold alcohol to the DCP devision’s undercover youths. The addresses of the establishments in Newtown that allegedly failed the operation are 123 South Main Street, 266 South Main Street and 19 Main Street, while the addresses of the ones in Putnam that allegedly failed the test are 150 Providence Street, 347 Kennedy Drive, 75 Main Street, 235 Kennedy Drive, and 26 Union Street. According to the DCP, these businesses could face administrative penalties.

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Reuben Bradford and the Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes announced that 56 state troopers had their layoff notices rescinded. The 56 state troopers had their layoff notices rescinded due to the retirement of 40 sworn personnel on September 1 and October 1, according to Commissioner Bradford. The total in salary for the 40 people who retired is $2,254,460, while the total in salary for the 56 state troopers is $1,888,830, as reported in a press release.

Governor Malloy announced that after President Barack Obama approved his disaster declaration request to cover for costs incurred by Tropical Storm Irene the Federal Emergency Management Agency granted $5,089,356.61 to the state. Eligible residents are encouraged to apply until the November 3 deadline. According to a press release, $4,807,542.38 are planned to cover for uninsured “homeowner’s primary residence,” while the rest of the grants are planned to cover for “disaster-related medical and dental costs.”

Meanwhile, the governor also announced that the National Governors Association selected Connecticut along with Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania as part of a national Policy Academy aimed at “implementing successful economic strategies” for the promotion of growth of “advanced manufacturing industries” in association with federal departments’ experts and National Governors Association staff.

The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D – CT) and Joe Lieberman (I – CT), and U.S. Representatives John Larson (D, CT – 1st District), Rosa DeLauro (D, CT – 3rd District) and Jim Himes (D, CT – 4th District) announced that Capital Workforce Partners, Inc. and Workplace, Inc. are granted $4,986,817 and $4,936,845 respectively in an effort to qualify unemployed residents for careers in the healthcare industry.

U.S. Representative Larson announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services granted $200,000 every year for the next four years to Integrated Health Services in an effort to extend dental coverage to about 1,000 school students up to 10th grade in his district.

U.S. Representative Courtney announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) granted $429,936 to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture for the purpose of “strengthening the market for specialty crops.”

The Connecticut congressional delegation was quoted as informing that the USDA issued a disaster assistance declaration for Connecticut for farmers who incurred damages from Tropical Storm Irene. This disaster assistance declaration will provide eligible farmers across the state with emergency funding, financial assistance for non-insurable crops and low-interest loans, according to a press release if they file an application with USDA’s Farm Service Agency.

CTMirror.org quoted nonprofit agencies as expecting about 20,000 more households to apply for heating aid under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, a federally funded program.

In electoral politics, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced that absentee ballots are available to Connecticut residents who will not be able to vote on November 8 due to being out of their municipalities. The deadline to cast an absentee ballot is November 1, pointed out Secretary Merrill. This year there will be only local elections in Connecticut.

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