Stability Please!

At a meeting in Danbury, local business leaders made a plea to state officials for stability when it comes to the state budget and business regulation.

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Budget Day?

Today is a the self-imposed deadline set by Democratic legislative leaders to vote on a temporary fix to close the state's projected budget deficit.

So far there are no details on any proposed deal, but it is not unusual for lawmakers to wait until the last possible moment to close a deal of this sort.

What is clear is that the end of this year's legislative session will only mark the beginning of a process to address fundamental changes necessary to keep Connecticut's fiscal house in order over the long term.

Layoff Challenges

Layoffs of perhaps thousands of state employees appear imminent, but the workforce reductions will not happen without push-back from state employee unions and without a lot of groundwork by the Malloy administration.

A Minefield of Concerns - CT Mirror

Unions Rally - CT News Junkie

Policy Shift

Last week's announcement by the Department of Developmental Services that it plans to close two regional treatment centers - run by the state - is a sign state government is finally moving toward a greater reliance on private sector care providers.

DDS has concluded it costs state taxpayers far less to care for some agency clients if services are provided by private sector workers. The DDS decision is supported by research conducted by CT21.

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New Stats

Mixed statistics were released this week from the state and federal government on the Connecticut economy.

The state's unemployment rate is unchanged, but the highest in New England. Meanwhile, Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the country.

CT Has Highest Income - Hartford Business Journal

Employment Rate Analysis - CBIA

Bates Named Exec. Director CT21

The Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century(CT21), founded in 1999 to recommend non-partisan, data-driven policy solutions to government leaders, has named Scott Bates of Stonington as its new executive director.

Justice Reform

CT21 has embraced most of the criminal justice reforms put forward by Governor Dannel Malloy.

A shift away from harsh prison sentences would be a benefit to society in general and would decrease corrections budgets.

This week, the Pew Center released findings that tend to confirm earlier studies by CT21 that show Connecticut has among the highest incarceration rates in the country.

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Budget Movement

Governor Malloy and legislative Democrats and Republicans say they are confident they are moving toward a bi-partisan compromise on closing this year's projected state budget gap. A vote is expected next week.

However, early signs point toward a short term solution that does not make systemic changes that would be seen as altering Connecticut's budget fundamentals.

At the same time, Malloy is signaling major layoffs of state workers are on the near horizon.

Negotiations Continue - CT News Junkie

Layoffs Yes, Early Retirement No - CT Mirror

Layoffs Imminent

Three of the last four Connecticut governors have resorted to layoffs, or the threat of layoffs, since 1991.

Once again Governor Malloy finds himself in the same position as state employee labor unions refuse to discuss contract givebacks to help balance the budget. Unlike previous governors, Malloy is getting support from Democratic leaders in the legislature who believe it is time for the unions to come back to the bargaining table to avoid thousands of job cuts.

Layoffs Imminent - Connecticut Post

Looney Says Unions Should Talk - CT Mirror

Union Issues

State employee union leadership is basically telling the Malloy administration "a deal is a deal" and is resisting efforts by the governor to re-open contract negotiations as part of the effort to trim state spending.

Over the weekend union leaders told Governor Malloy they do not have the authority to discuss contract givebacks unless authorized by union membership.

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DMV Opportunity

This week's top management changes at the Department of Motor Vehicles could signal a major opportunity for Connecticut to modernize its current, trouble plagued system.

CT21's comprehensive report on information technology changes in state government highlighted specific examples in Georgia and Arizona that might be used as a template for better customer service and cost savings.

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Nearly Half of CT Towns in Fiscal Trouble

From Connecticut Data Collaborative
by Michelle Riordan-Nold

With each passing day it seems the headlines in the papers highlight a worsening fiscal situation for the state. This begs the question: What does it mean for our towns?

This is the first in a series that will examine the fiscal situation of municipalities. There have been several statewide initiatives to examine fiscal challenges facing both the state and towns. Our goal is to highlight the major findings from these initiatives and reports; expand on the research that was done; present it through a new medium; and inform a broader audience on the work being done in the state.

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Time to Act

By CBIA Staff

Connecticut’s growing fiscal problems have an unsettling effect on our business climate and economy, risking jobs, government services, and our quality of life.

As opinion polls consistently illustrate, voters recognize those issues and they are becoming increasingly concerned about the direction of the state.

A Promise to Move Now

Legislative leaders are now promising to close the current projected state budget deficit by April 1, a full month before the end of the current legislative session. This promise was made this week even as Governor Malloy took unilateral action to trim nearly $80 million in planned spending using executive authority.

While the promise to close the current deficit is welcome news, it may also signal a strategic decision by legislators to deal with larger structural problems after this year's elections.

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Post Employment Costs

A growing issue for many states - including Connecticut - is costs related to post-employment benefits for former state workers.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College is out with a new study outlining the challenges.

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Malloy Would Sign GOP Budget

In a somewhat remarkable development, Governor Malloy has signaled he would be inclined to sign a Republican budget plan unveiled this week that attempts to balance the budget for this fiscal year.

A spokesman for Malloy told the Connecticut Mirror that while the governor does not agree with all aspects of the plan - it's an honest effort.

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Poll: Juvenile Justice

A new poll shows most Connecticut residents favor community based programs over prison-like settings for juvenile justice offenders.

The survey is consistent with findings and recommendations from CT21 that show financial and outcome benefits to building a strong network of community based social programs vs. institutional settings.

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Week Ahead

This shows signs of another important week in the state budget process.

The news media and union leadership will be attempting to find out more about Governor Malloy's state employee layoff plans. Last week his administration sent out early warnings of impending job cuts but did not offer specifics. Over the weekend one union leader appeared on a local television talk show to complain that Malloy had yet to take advantage of union offers to come up with alternate plans to reduce spending.

CT Added Fewer Jobs in 2015 - CT News Junkie

Malloy Discusses Budget - New Britain Herald

Layoff Warnings Go Out

The Malloy administration has sent out the first layoff warning notices to most state employee bargaining units.

The notifications simply warn of the potential for layoffs to help balance the budget. All state agency leaders have been asked to draft new plans to deliver services within existing revenues. Governor Malloy has made clear in recent public comments that closing of certain state facilities and workforce reductions will be necessary to balance the budget.

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Governor, Speaker Agree on Problem

At the very least, both Governor Malloy and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey seem to agree on the problem, as the state stares down projected budget deficits in the next several years.

Speaking before the Planning and Development Committee Friday, Sharkey, who has at times disagreed with the governor on a several issues, told members, "we are in an emergency situation" with respect to the state budget. Like Malloy, the Speaker said, "our budgets have to reflect the revenues we are generating" and he added, we don't have the revenues we used to and "guess what; they're not coming back."

Sharkey was testifying in favor of the work of the MORE commission on regionalization. 

Consistent Message

Governor Malloy continues to deliver a consistent message on the state budget regardless of the pressure or the politics of the moment.

Speaking directly to state workers and taxpayers at a town forum in West Hartford Wednesday Malloy said continued spending cuts and state employee layoffs are on the horizon and suggested there is no way around it. Malloy acknowledged two consecutive large tax increases have failed to provide the revenue to fund Connecticut state government, so state government spending must shrink.

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Biz Community Welcomes Malloy

Governor Dan Malloy has been the bearer of bad news in recent weeks, but his message is being received well by Connecticut business leaders who have been advocating for reductions in state spending for years.

Malloy spoke Wednesday at Connecticut Business Day at the capitol.

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Major Layoffs Likely

As the state budget picture continues to unfold it appears likely the Malloy administration is looking toward layoffs of state employees as a major part of any cost reduction efforts. The stark reality of placing this option so squarely on the table is putting a sharper focus on the challenges ahead for the state legislature.

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Legislative Furloughs

There are new signs legislators are either getting the message about the need to control state spending or they are running out of options. Or perhaps both.

Legislative leaders have begun researching the possibility of reversing raises for employees of the legislative branch and using furloughs of those workers in an effort to bring the state budget in line. Both steps would be largely symbolic given the size of the state budget and scope of the problem, but the decision does indicate a new sense of urgency on the part of leading lawmakers.

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