Retirement Plans

Even though states like Connecticut are facing difficult choices about funding their own state employee retirement plans, nearly half are moving forward with plans to offer retirement accounts to private sector employees, according to the latest research from Pew.

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Transit Future

According to the Connecticut Mirror, there is a split in Connecticut government circles about how best to proceed with plans to modernize passenger rail service in the northeast. One group favors a shoreline train route between Boston and New York and another, led by Governor Malloy, favors an inland route through Hartford and passing near Storrs.

The debate obviously has policy and budget implications.

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Borrowing Reform

The Connecticut Office of the Treasurer continues to push for some common sense reforms in the manner in which the state borrows money for capital projects.

Among the ideas; ending the practice of using some borrowing to pay for operating costs and paying cash for some capital projects.

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Smart Manufacturing Investment

By Scott Bates

At a time when Connecticut is seeing an increase in job opportunities in the manufacturing field the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system has smartly added new advanced manufacturing programs. These programs will be instrumental in expanding the changing manufacturing sector.

No More Layoffs?

In delivering budget reduction options to the governor's budget office, state agency leaders are arguing they can make the cost cutting goals without further layoffs.

Twenty-six state agency leaders are making the claim according to a report in the Connecticut Mirror.

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Reforming Juvenile Justice

The Connecticut Department of Children and Families is considering juvenile justice reforms that align with best practices often recommended by CT21.

The plan forecasts a move toward fewer and smaller locked facilities and a greater reliance on the private sector to provide services to those youth who do not require locked facilities. It is believed this approach can lead to better outcomes at lower cost to taxpayers.

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Room for Improvement

Despite the mixed results of Governor Malloy's efforts to reform the state's criminal justice system during the last legislative session, there is still evidence more can be done to reduce costs by understanding how to reduce prison and jail incarceration rates.

Statistics show the state is spending more than it needs to - as a matter of policy and sound management principles - on pre-trial detention.

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Troubled Picture

The Office of Policy and Management has submitted its final report on the just completed fiscal year and the deficit numbers show continuing unfavorable trends.

Revenues from both income and corporation taxes are down. If the trend continues it means more difficult spending decisions will await the next legislature when it convenes in January.

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Transportation Funding

The Malloy administration is investing in a study to determine the best way to begin taxing drivers based on how many miles they drive.

This as talk at the capital suggests the re-introduction of highway tolls may be a major issue in the next legislative session. Governor Malloy has made no secret of the fact that he believes Connecticut needs a more stable revenue stream to fund transportation improvements. He and others have also acknowledged that changes in the way people are using their cars, electric cars, cars that get better gas mileage, and increased use of public transportation are all factors making the gasoline tax less reliable.

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Capital Spending in Comparison

According to a new report, Connecticut and the rest of the New England states, trail much of the rest of the country when it comes to spending on capital projects. This might come as a surprise to many who have been critical of the Malloy administration for borrowing too much.

A report from the Connecticut Mirror notes that several of Connecticut's New England neighbors have been living under self-imposed borrowing caps for the past several years and that may be a contributing factor in the rankings.

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Consolidation Recommended

A study done for the Connecticut Healthcare Cabinet is recommending the creation of a new state agency that would take control of many healthcare management functions currently spread throughout state government.

The idea is far from the point of implementation, but certainly provides policy-makers something to consider and may also raise questions about the need to re-align other agencies of state government to better address the issues of today.

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The Borrowing Issue

At the same time state agencies are being asked to cut spending in anticipation of several more years of declining tax revenues, Connecticut continues to put the cost of more capital projects on the credit card.

At a Bond Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, nearly $200 million in borrowing is scheduled for approval bringing the total this year to more than $2 billion. Some observers are predicting the use of borrowing will be a major issue in this fall's legislative campaigns.

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CT Overtime Costs Reduced

With a workforce reduction of 1,000 positions over the last year, state overtime costs have been cut by 14% according to a memo from OPM Secretary Ben Barnes.

The report comes following previous public criticism of overtime costs in state government.

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New Labor Data

The Connecticut Department of Labor is out with new statistics showing job migration patterns in Connecticut.

It shows many have left the state for places like Texas, California and North Carolina, but the new figures also show more people are moving to this state from Massachusetts and New York. The findings are published in the latest edition of the Connecticut Economic Digest.

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Budget Crises Redefine Priorities

The Hartford Business Journal points out that budget constraints at the state and local level are forcing elected leaders to redefine the role of government spending. Shrinking tax revenues mean government can only spend on top priority items.

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No Holiday for Budget Cuts

As the new fiscal year gets underway the Malloy administration is asking state agency leaders to make more cuts in department budgets.

OPM has asked for a total of $130 million in reductions and will likely ask for more as the fiscal year moves forward.

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Taxpayers Favor Regionalization

A new survey from InformCT says more than half of state residents believe many locally delivered government services should be regionalized to save money.

Though Connecticut does not have a county government system, which would make regionalization easier, several steps are being taken in the right direction. CT21 research has shown significant opportunity for cost savings. With the state facing projected budget deficits over the next two years it is more likely than ever that many ideas concerning regional cooperation are now ripe for implementation.

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Trouble Ahead

...or more accurately...as most Connecticut budget watchers know...we are not out of the woods yet.

The news from the state capitol is that with a few days left in this fiscal year we will need to use the Rainy Day Fund to balance the books. On top of that, trends show the budget set to take effect on July 1 is already out of balance. The next legislative session will be dominated once again by complex budget matters rather than policy. The most difficult task is aligning falling revenues with ever growing spending responsibilities.

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CT Recovery Lagging

A new analysis from CBIA economist Peter Gioia points out the continued troubling trend line behind the economic recovery in Connecticut.

The numbers confirm an argument Governor Dannel Malloy has been making for most of this year about a basic shift in economic patterns that require a new approach to budgeting and economic development.

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Deficit Problems Persist

New numbers from the Malloy administration show declining revenues continue to be a persistent problem for the state of Connecticut.

The budget shortfall for the current fiscal year grew over the last month by close to $60 million meaning it is likely the state will need to use its Rainy Day Fund to balance the books at the end of the year. The latest figures also throw into question whether the budget that is about to go into effect on July 1 is truly in balance.

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Two Track Recovery

By Scott Bates

We have reached an important point in the history of our state. Connecticut is facing the twin challenges of fiscal shortfalls and a rapidly changing economy that is making it harder for working families to make ends meet. Yet every crisis provides an opportunity to change direction and it appears some Connecticut policy-makers are looking past the crisis of the moment to plan meaningfully for the future.

Barnes Sees Pain, Opportunity

In a memo sent to state agency leaders earlier this month, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Ben Barnes warned of more painful spending cuts over the next two years and plenty of criticism to go with those cuts.

But he also framed the tight budget as an opportunity to realign state government in a "sustainable and responsive" way.

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Sector Growth

A new report on Connecticut's Gross Domestic Product shows good and bad signs.

The most positive news suggests signs of growth in a few key economic sectors important to the jobs of the future, including; manufacturing, scientific and technical services.

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Veto Sustained

In a rare split between the Senate and the House, Democrats in the legislature were unable to over-ride any of Governor Malloy's line-item budget vetoes Monday. The spending reductions will stand.

Reportedly Democrats in the House had the votes for an over-ride, but Senate leaders decided such a vote would be only symbolic.

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