Author Archives: Bernie Davidow

Why Is Connecticut’s Debt So High?

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Courant business writer Mara Lee files this report:

A new paper from Boston Federal Reserve economists finds Connecticut\’s spending on school building programs to be extremely generous, with the $4.5 billion in outstanding school construction debt making up almost 25 percent of the state\’s debt burden.

To put this number in perspective, Massachusetts has $5.4 billion in school construction debt. Because it has 40 percent more public school students than Connecticut, you’d expect that number to be larger. But if that state had borrowed as much as ours for school construction in the past 20 years, it would have $7.2 billion in school construction debt.

The authors suggest they don’t buy the argument that Massachusetts and Connecticut have more decrepit infrastructure, and that’s why they need to borrow more. But they do note that the lack of county government is a contributing factor.

Connecticut is either the most indebted state, or second-most, by traditional measures. But if local borrowing is consolidated with state debt, Connecticut looks very average. In other states, counties do a fair bit of the infrastructure borrowing. With state and local borrowing combined, Connecticut ranks 28th.

Connecticut Seeks \’Race To The Top\’ Funds For Early Childhood Education

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Connecticut has applied for the latest round of federal Race to the Top funds, which target early childhood education and could bring the state nearly $40 million.

The application was submitted Oct. 11, the governor\’s office said Tuesday. Winners will be announced by the end of the year.

So far, the state has been unsuccessful in winning Race to the Top money. This round, The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, specifically targets early childhood education and would benefit young children with high needs.

Under a formula that takes into account an individual state\’s demographics, Connecticut would be eligible for $37.5 million, officials say. Continue reading

QPoll: Americans Oppose GOP Strategy 3-To-1

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Quinnipiac University released a timely national poll this morning that shows widespread voter discontent with both parties in Congress, and the Republican strategy in particular in the budget fight that has brought a partial government shutdown. From the Quinnipiac announcement:

American voters oppose 72 – 22 percent Congress shutting down the federal government to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.


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State Sends Firefighters To Montana

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Connecticut this morning sent 17 firefighters to Lolo National Forest in western Montana to help battle wildfires, a state agency announced. Three more will follow.

The six local firefighters and 14 firefighters from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will be deployed for up to two weeks, DEEP said.

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Glastonbury Manufacturer In Line For $2.5M State Loan

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A Glastonbury company that makes parts for the aerospace industry is in line to receive a $2.5 million state loan to consolidate its operations in a new building in town, the governor\’s office announced Thursday.

The money for the company, Flanagan Industries, will be up for approval at Friday\’s meeting of the State Bond Commission. Typically, most items, once they make the commission\’s agenda, are approved.

Flanagan plans to add 20 new jobs and consolidate its locations at 25 Mill St. and 911 New London Turnpike into a new building at 81 National Drive in Glastonbury, the governor\’s office said in a release that also detailed terms of the loan: Continue reading

Percentage Of Children Placed With \’Kinship Families\’ Up, Agency Reports

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In the past 2 1/2 years, the state\’s child-care agency has placed a greater percentage of children with relatives and others close to them rather than \”non-kin\” foster homes, the agency announced Tuesday.

The agency, the state Department of Children and Families, said the percentage placed with \”kinship families\” jumped from 21 percent in January 2011 to 29.8 percent July 2013.

The announcement notes that the expansion of \”kinship care\” required the additional $3 million in the state budget for the fiscal year that started July 1:

\”We know that children in care do better when placed with someone they know either by family relation or other personal connection,\” Commissioner Katz said. \”But it is just as certain that kinship families need practical and effective support in stepping up for children at a very difficult time.\”…

Research shows relative and kinship placements produce a variety of positive outcomes for children in care, including greater stability, more timely permanency and greater prospects for staying with siblings.

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Senate Confirms Comer For State School Board

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Courant education writer Kathleen Megan writes:

The Senate on Thursday confirmed the appointment of Andrea Comer to the state Board of Education.

\"andreaComer’s nomination to the board by Gov. Dannel Malloy drew criticism from the state’s teachers union because she is an administrator for charter schools. But her nomination sailed through both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Comer is chief operating officer for the charter school group Family Urban Schools of Excellence, or FUSE, the Hartford organization that manages Jumoke Academy.

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Blumenthal, Murphy Continue Work Despite Ricin Letter

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State Capitol Bureau Chief Christopher Keating reports:

The two U.S. senators from Connecticut learned about an intercepted envelope containing the deadly poison ricin on Tuesday afternoon but continued their work because the letter was found at a facility many miles from the U.S. Capitol.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a telephone interview: “It’s in the suburbs, but there will be no regular mail for a while – at least the rest of the week. Most senators are concerned, but not unduly alarmed.

\”We’ve been briefed on the investigation that’s ongoing and assured that everything is underway to make sure that the FBI and other investigating authorities apprehend whoever is responsible,\” Blumenthal said. \”We’re assured that the FBI is devoting all the resources and attention that is necessary.’’

CNN reported that the envelope that tested positive for was intercepted at an off-site mail facility in Washington, and that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was told it was addressed to the office of Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.

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10-Year, $2 Billion UConn Plan Clears Finance Committee

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Courant Capitol Bureau Chief Christopher Keating reports:

The legislature’s finance committee voted Tuesday for a plan to pour $2 billion into the University of Connecticut over the next decade, taking another step toward expansion and improvement beyond $2.3 billion that has already been allocated under previous governors.

A majority of the committee, on a bipartisan basis, voted in favor of the plan. The final tally, however, had not been tabulated because legislators who were out of the room at other hearings are still allowed to vote later this afternoon.

Sen. John Fonfara, the new co-chairman of the tax-writing committee, told his colleagues that they had the chance to take an unusual vote Tuesday that would have significant long-term consequences.

“You vote on hundreds and thousands of bills in your time as a legislator,’’ Fonfara said, adding that it is relatively rare to cast a vote on an issue that will have “measurable effects’’ on the state.

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