Donald Williams, the longest-serving Senate president pro tem in state history, surprised his caucus today by announcing that he is not seeking reelection this fall.
Williams, 56, has served in the highest-ranking position in the state Senate for 10 years – surpassing all others in a position that dates back in the legislature to 1845.
At the center of the biggest issues of the day, Williams negotiated state budgets and crafted laws with the past three governors and the past four House Speakers – covering the biggest issues from the death penalty to gun control to improving education.
“It’s been a very difficult decision because I love the institution of the legislature and the Senate,’’ Williams said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with The Hartford Courant. “For a lot of reasons, I feel that this is the right time to move on to other challenges. There’s a little anxiety in that, on the one hand, but I also find that exciting.’’
After declining several times to say exactly what he will be doing, Williams flatly said “no’’ when asked if he would become a lobbyist like other previous lawmakers.
When asked if he would run for higher office, Williams said, “You should never rule something out for the future. I certainly will not be a candidate this fall’’ for any office.
“I’m not leaving this job to take a specific assignment,’’ Williams said. “I plan on exploring thoroughly what my next step will be.’’ Continue reading
State Sen. John McKinney, a Republican running for governor, is calling for 10 debates between now and the state party convention in May.
“Connecticut Republicans deserve the opportunity to ask questions and hear first-hand from the candidates they will choose between for the Republican nomination,” McKinney said in a press release. “The nomination should not be decided by 30-second television ads, three sentence sound bites, and glossy oversized mail pieces. Rather, candidates need to state specifically where they stand on the important issues of the day. This election is too important.”
McKinney is calling for “a series of issue-oriented debates…to highlight the strengths of the candidates on our side of the aisle [and] also put the Republican message on a more level playing field with a governor who is leveraging, if not exploiting, all the powers of incumbency to campaign for reelection across the state.”
McKinney, who is the Republican leader in the state Senate, is one of at least five candidates seeking the GOP nomination. Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, former West Hartford council member Joe Visconti, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti and former ambassador Tom Foley have all announced they are running. Also considering a run is state Sen. Toni Boucher of Wilton is also weighing a run.
Minutes after McKinney’s announcement, Boughton tweeted his response to McKinney’s challenge:
The money quote from last night’s GOP debate comes from Joe Visconti, who, with these comments, showed why he will struggle to attract mainstream support:
Visconti said if he had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School, “the outcome would have been much different.”
Later in the debate he said he would not give more money to the state police until they stopped “confiscating guns.”
Read Jenny Wilson’s full account.
When the state Republican Party decided last year to hold their convention at the Mohegan Sun, they did it because their costs were cut nearly in half from their last convention in Hartford.
They picked the dates of Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17.
But they had no idea that they would be in the same building with Bruce Springsteen, one of the most popular rockers of all time. It was just announced Monday that Springsteen will be playing at the Mohegan Sun Arena on two consecutive nights – May 17 and 18.
It looks like it will be a pretty busy weekend in Uncasville as the hotel is booking up very fast with politicians and Springsteen fans.
The GOP will be bringing 1,250 to 1,300 delegates for the annual convention to pick candidates for governor and multiple statewide races. When guests, candidates, and the press are all added in, the crowd could be as many as 2,000 people, said Jerry Labriola, the state party chairman. Continue reading
Senate Republican leader John McKinney called Tuesday for the resignation of the state education commissioner because of the problems with implementing education reform.
McKinney said that Commissioner Stefan Pryor should step down because of problems with the Common Core Standards and the controversial teacher evaluation system.
“I am calling today for the resignation of Commissioner Stefan Pryor,” McKinney said at a well-attended press conference at the state Capitol as four television cameras were pointed at him. Continue reading
After being lukewarm to a minimum wage hike proposed in 2012 by then-House Speaker Chris Donovan, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday proposed boosting the wage to $10.10 per hour in 2017.
“There is a debate happening across our country on how to tackle the growing income inequality that is detrimental to our middle class families and to our economy,” Malloy said in a statement after unveiling his plan in Bridgeport. ”Part of tackling that critically important challenge is making sure that we recognize that a good and decent wage is good for workers and good for business.”
He added, “For too long, the minimum wage has not kept up with the cost of living. As studies have shown, the workers who would benefit from a minimum wage increase brought home 46 percent of their household’s total wage and salary income in 2011. When workers earn more money, businesses will have more customers. This modest boost will help those earning the least to make ends meet.”
Citing Malloy’s skepticism only two years ago, the Connecticut state director of a small business group asked Malloy “to explain why his reasoning on the minimum wage seems to have dramatically changed” since Donovan’s bill failed without a vote in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.
“We’d like to know what’s changed,” said Andrew Markowski, the National Federation of Independent Business state director. “Last year, the governor warned that a higher minimum wage could damage small business. Now, he’s calling for a 22 percent increase over the previous level. It’s very confusing.”
An estimated 5 percent of the state’s workforce is paid the minimum wage. Continue reading
After enacting the largest tax increase in state history in 2011, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is now offering rebates and tax cuts that would reach more than $200 million in the next fiscal year.
One day after calling for tax rebates for individuals and families, Malloy announced several new proposals Friday – including exempting 50 percent of public school teachers’ pensions from the state income tax.
Malloy also offered two popular proposals that were proposed by House Republicans last week – restoring the sales tax exemption on non-prescription drugs and the exemption on clothing items costing less than $50.
The overall two-year package would reach more than $250 million in rebates and tax cuts if approved by the Democratic-controlled legislature in the 2014 General Assembly session that begins Wednesday. In a chart, Malloy included more than $180 million in tax breaks that were already approved by the legislature for the next two fiscal years and said that the total was “nearly $450 million.”
Senate Republican leader John McKinney, who is running for governor, said it was “disingenuous” for Malloy to say he was cutting taxes by nearly $450 million when $155 million is one-time rebates and about $180 million is already on the books in previously approved reductions.
“Will the real Dan Malloy please stand up?” McKinney asked. “During the last three years as governor, while not running for reelection, Governor Malloy raised taxes, punished teachers and retirees, and saw deficits everywhere. Now, in an election year, he proposes tax cuts, panders to teachers and sees surpluses even in the face of a $2 billion deficit. Maybe we should have elections every year?” Continue reading
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says he will make a “major announcement” Tuesday regarding his gubernatorial campaign, but he would not say Monday what those plans are.
Three well-placed Republican sources, however, told Capitol Watch that Boughton will name former Groton mayor and current council member Heather Bond Somers as his running mate.
Boughton will be driving clear across the state to the Gold Star Highway in Groton to make the announcement – going essentially 100 miles from the New York State border nearly to the Rhode Island border.
A native of Groton, Somers, 47, served from 2003 through 2009 on the Groton Town Council. She then moved briefly to New London before moving back to win the local race in November 2011.
A graduate of Robert E. Fitch Senior High School in Groton, she later graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in economics and English. Somers has been heavily involved in the healthcare industry and helped create a medical device manufacturing company with partners in Willimantic in 1997. Continue reading
In a breach of Social Security numbers, the state labor department said Friday that a printing error caused nearly 27,000 citizens to receive incorrect information on unemployment compensation.
Some of those who had filed for unemployment found out that their confidential information had turned up on forms received by other Connecticut residents. Since unemployment compensation is taxable, the state labor department is required to inform individuals annually about the amount they had received through a tax form known as UC-1099G.
The labor department says the information on the top portion of the tax form is correct, but in a case of double-printing, the bottom half of the form includes the name, address, and Social Security number of another resident.
“We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause people who are in the process of filing their tax returns, and we want to make sure individuals are aware of a possible error,’’ state labor commissioner Sharon Palmer said Friday. “Individuals receiving a 1099-G for unemployment compensation benefits are asked to check their forms for accuracy.’’
The printing error covers about 27,000 of the 250,000 tax forms that have been mailed out, and those who have been affected will be offered free credit protection, according to the labor department.
Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield said he was outraged that Social Security numbers had been exposed again, not long after problems with debit cards that contained state tax refunds that were the subject of a major computer breach at JP Morgan Chase.
“This is very disturbing news,’’ McKinney said in an interview. “It seems suspicious that the Deparment of Labor is releasing news about this significant mistake late on a Friday afternoon. What are they trying to cover up? It’s time for the governor to hold the people who made this mistake accountable.’’ Continue reading
The Democrats plan to go at Republicans on the budget and state economy, issues that the GOP has already made a campaign issue. There will be many more videos like this one from the state Democrats over the next nine months: