Commissioner Cuts?

Governor Malloy's proposal to give more budget making decision power to his appointed commissioners is getting mixed reviews in the legislature where the budget line item is seen as political power.

Some are attempting to figure out how block granting state agencies would work. The CT Mirror tried to analyze where commissioners might cut, if given the power, by reviewing budget planning documents submitted from the various agencies to the Office of Policy and Management last year.

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Transportation Spending

CT 21 has long advocated for increased funding for and modernization of Connecticut's transportation system.

As Governor Malloy fights to expand the state's investment and lock transportation funding in a special account protected from legislative raids, there is news the state will see modest increases in federal funding for transportation over the next several years. The level of federal funding available however will not rise to the level necessary to lead to transformative change.

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No Tax Increases

Several private sector groups continue to advocate in support of Governor Malloy's budget proposal which includes no new tax increases.

Of the many principles included in the governor's current proposal, the goal of avoiding tax increases this fiscal year is among the most important. Wednesday, Connecticut Business and Industry Association, economist Peter Gioia testified before the Appropriations Committee.

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CT 21, CERC Show Long Term Savings

CT 21 and the Connecticut Economic Resource Council, Inc. have produced a report showing more than $650 million in savings over the next ten years if state government continues current reforms in the area of long term support services.

Current state policy aims to have 75% of long term care patients in non-institutional settings by 2025. The new study shows pursuing that path has already saved the state as much as $200 million.

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Confronting Crisis

Perhaps not since 1991 has a Connecticut governor gone on the road to make such an unpopular argument.

Governor Malloy finds himself arguing the facts with Connecticut residents and in some cases, special interests, as he continues his campaign on behalf of his latest budget proposal. Meanwhile, there is evidence Malloy may need the help of members of the public who understand it is time to make difficult choices in aid of improving the Connecticut economy. Some legislators are beginning to sound reluctant about stepping up to the challenge.

Malloy on Unfamiliar Ground - CT Mirror

Leaders Rehash Last Debate - CT News Junkie

Call for New Partnerships

In a strong editorial published this week, the Hartford Business Journal calls on Governor Malloy and state lawmakers to partner with the business community and non-profits to re-order state government. The paper says many in government often scoff at the idea of "government working more like a business," but suggests the time has come to shed that way of thinking.

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Meanwhile, long time state government observer Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer writes, if Governor Malloy's proposed reforms are to pass, he may need to rely on Republican votes.

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Malloy Bets On Reality

Governor Malloy says there are few choices when it comes to balancing the state budget in a sustainable way.

That harsh reality, Malloy believes, is what will move the legislature toward fully accepting most of his proposed budget cuts. He spoke about the state of the Connecticut economy and the state budget during a recent meeting with the New Haven Register editorial board.

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Malloy Seeks Support

As the legislature begins to review Governor Malloy's budget proposal, Malloy is taking to the road in a series of town hall meetings in an attempt to convince voters that it is time for fundamental change in Connecticut's way of doing business.

As the case has been under previous administrations, when governors have been forced to make politically unpopular decisions, part of Malloy's argument is to ask "what's the alternative?"

Malloy Asks for Understanding - CT Mirror 

Malloy Addresses Proposed Cuts - Norwalk Hour

Malloy Forum in Stamford - Hartford Courant

What's the Alternative? - CBIA

Governor Pushing Budget on the Road

If it's Thursday it must be Stamford.

As promised, Governor Malloy is on the road promoting his recent budget proposal and answering questions from state residents. So far this week he has visited at least three towns and plans to be in Stamford Thursday night. There are early signs some advocates for specific budget line items are beginning to come forward to make their case, but overall negative reaction to the governor's budget cuts, which many in Connecticut see as necessary, has been limited.

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Offering Help

Once again, Connecticut business leaders are offering a helping hand to state legislators as they craft budget adjustments for the coming fiscal year.

On an almost annual basis, private sector leaders have offered to help state government to apply best practices to what are often political decisions about state budgeting. This year, lawmakers seem more willing to listen, as Governor Malloy conducts a statewide campaign to change the way Connecticut government does business.

CT 21 has been a leader in this effort by providing non-partisan, fact-based analysis of public policy options designed to reduce cost and improve efficiency.

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Spending Auto Pilot Must End

The state's largest business group - the Connecticut Business and Industry Association - has come out strongly in the last week in support of Governor Malloy's recent budget proposal.

The CBIA is in agreement with Malloy that state spending expectations must be reset and more specifically lowered; to align with Connecticut's current economic reality.

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Good Start, but...

In a news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol, the leaders of nine regional business groups praised Governor Malloy's most recent budget proposal, but also argued even more drastic changes are needed for Connecticut to remain an attractive place to do business.

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Malloy's Vision Shifting

The dramatic policy shift proposed by Governor Malloy in his budget address last week has not gone un-noticed by the news media, or legislative Republicans.

But the reason behind the change is reality based. Malloy is arguing the economic underpinnings of the state have changed and we have no choice but to adjust our public policy to reflect those changes.

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Outsourcing for DMV

Several CT 21 studies have found savings in the policy of using private service providers for some state government functions that can be handled equally well by non-government employees. Governor Malloy has put forward a proposed bill that would allow some functions of the Department of Motor Vehicles to be conducted by private contractors.

This would have the immediate effect of reducing lines at DMV offices, that have been in chaos since the implementation of a new computer system, and eventually provide long term cost savings.

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Pressure Shifts to Legislature

It is one thing for a governor to make a budget proposal, it is another for the legislature to follow his or her lead.

One week after Governor Malloy's dramatic budget address, in which he called on state government to reset expectations about what we can afford as a state, voters are watching closely to see if the legislature has received the message. The recent announced move by General Electric to Boston, and growing rumors that other large firms are considering similar decisions, is putting new pressure on the Connecticut legislature to enact fundamental spending reforms.

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Mandate Relief

An organized effort has delivered a strong message to lawmakers as the current session of the legislature gets underway.

Small business owners in Connecticut are asking lawmakers to refrain from imposing new mandates and regulations. Representatives of the small business community say new rules inhibit economic growth. It is one sub-message that is emerging as a major theme surrounding this year's budget debate: Focus on the state budget first.

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Small Biz Owner: Focus on Budget

Echoing the refrain of many business leaders in Connecticut this year, the owner of an independent business in Windsor Locks asked legislators to focus on fixing the state budget, rather than imposing new mandates on business during the current legislative session, in a Hartford Courant opinion article.

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Business Groups Offer Guidance

The leaders of nine regional business groups will hold a  news conference Tuesday at the state Capitol to offer their advice on how best to improve the business climate in Connecticut. The group sent a letter to Governor Malloy earlier this month with detailed recommendations.

So far, reaction from most business leaders to the goals put forward by Governor Malloy in his recent budget address have been positive. The group intends to keep the pressure on during the course of the regular legislative session.

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The GE Effect

An editorial in the Hartford Business Journal suggests the departure of General Electric may have a positive unintended consequence.

The news is serving as the crisis that is focusing the efforts of state government leaders on reform of Connecticut fiscal policy.

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Critics Offer Praise

One sign that Governor Malloy has done something unusual with his budget proposal this year is the reaction he is getting from his most reliable critics.

Republican leaders in the legislature were quick to praise Malloy's budget plan - even while claiming he was using their playbook. Meanwhile, two well known Malloy critics, Chris Powell of the Journal Inquirer and Kevin Rennie of the Hartford Courant, say Malloy's budget approach is what the state needs - while Rennie raises the key question about how the legislature will react.

This Time Save the State - Chris Powell, JI

Can Legislators Stick to Diet - Kevin Rennie, Courant

Solid Stride

Peter Gioia, the chief economist for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, says Governor Malloy's budget proposal takes some solid strides in the right direction. Gioia seems most impressed with Malloy's declaration that the old way of doing things simply no longer works for Connecticut and must change.

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What's Next?

In the first 24 hours after Governor Dannel Malloy unveiled his budget proposals for this legislative session, the reaction among those calling for budget reform is positive.

The big question remains whether lawmakers will have the political will necessary to adopt some of the governor's plans in an election year.

Here is a rundown of coverage and reaction.

Business Embraces Malloy Budget Cuts - Hartford Business Journal

Malloy After Five Years - CT Mirror

Advocates Say Social Service Cuts Hurt - CT Mirror

CT Governor Faces Battle - Wall St. Journal

Malloy Sets Table for Change

During his budget address Wednesday, Governor Dannel Malloy made a point of saying times have changed and the process of building a state budget must change with them.

And for the first time in many years it appears both Democrats and Republicans agree with that over-arching assessment, if not the details of the governor's proposals. Interviews with lawmakers of both parties, before and after the governor's budget address, seem to reflect an awareness that fundamental changes have to be made when deciding budget and policy priorities.

Details of Governor Malloy's Budget 

Private Providers

Among the proposals expected in Governor Malloy's budget plan, is an effort to use private service providers to improve the quality and reduce costs for the care of Connecticut residents with developmental disabilities. The governor intends to keep Southbury Training School open as the best way to care for some of the most profoundly disabled residents in state care, but seek private providers for those who would do better in community settings.

This is a policy approach long advocated by CT 21.

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