What’s the Big Secret?
The Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) has reached its cut-off for introducing new bills. More than 700 bills have been voted out of the 24 different committees — most coming from The Government Administration and Elections Committee (70). Rounding out the top five are Judiciary (65), Public Health (54), Labor and Public Employees (50) and Environment (50).
The House and Senate will now be meeting regularly to decide what new policies it wants to impose on the state including the budget for the next two fiscal years. The House is nice enough to post a ‘Go List’ — the list of bills on the calendar to take up on that day — but the Senate is usually a mystery.
Waiting till the last minute to post agendas is a disservice to the public. Is it too much to ask for a 24 hour heads-up on what legislation will be taken up? This will ensure lawmakers and the public have ample time to review language before a vote is called.
Next week both chambers meet on Wednesday and Thursday. The agenda is TBD.
Maybe That 2022 SEBAC Agreement Was a Bad Idea
The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) leaders and lawmakers held a press conference on Monday (April 24) threatening tuition hikes and layoffs if the system does not receive an additional $334 million for the next two fiscal years — $109 million for FY24 and $225 million FY25. CSCU is comprised of seventeen state and community colleges.
CSCU President Terrence Cheng said the budget that passed out of the Appropriations Committee “in its current form would be devastating to CSCU.”
If additional funding is not approved, CSCU says it will be forced to layoff more than 650 full-time faculty and staff, eliminate almost 3,000 part-time positions. Community colleges will see a five-percent tuition increase for the next two years and universities will face a five-percent increase for the 2024-25 academic year.
Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Barnes sounded the alarm in a September 2022 CSCU Board of Regents meeting that he anticipated a “system-wide deficit” due to revenue and “additional operating budget expense related to the SEBAC raises.”
The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) signed an almost $2 billion deal in 2022 which included $3,500 in bonuses and raises — some employee groups saw salaries increase 21 percent over a 15-month period. The agreement did not include wage increases during the final year of the deal (July 2024 to June 2025), but the state committed to renegotiate pay after Jan 2024 — a provision known as a “reopener.”
If the state does manage to find money to funnel to CSCU let’s hope they take this into consideration when sitting down with SEBAC to discuss pay increases when the contract reopens.
New Rules for Electric Companies Won’t Immediately Lower Electric Bills
On Wednesday (April 26) the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) voted in favor of implementing a new regulatory system — performance-based regulation (PBR) — that sets electric rates based on how well the electric utilities do their job. PURA is responsible for interpreting and applying statutes and regulations that govern the states utility sector
In a press release from PURA Chairman Marissa Gillett, PBR “has the potential to align all our regulatory tools to strengthen accountability for utilities and to achieve priority outcomes for customers. These reforms are especially important now, with the transformation underway in the energy and utility industries and with many customers continuing to struggle with high monthly bills.”
Gov. Ned Lamont also released a statement saying, “Creating a performance-based incentive system will ensure that the earnings and profits of utility companies are tied to good performance and certain penalties can be enacted amid extensive service disruptions.”
According to CT Inside Investigator, Wednesday’s decision won’t affect Connecticut residents’ electric bills right away. Rather, the decision approved a framework, regulatory goals and priority outcomes for PBR. These goals include improving operational performance, empowering customers, better social equity and lowering costs to make power more affordable for residents.
Commutation Architect Confirmed by House
On Thursday (April 27) the House confirmed the appointment of Carleton Giles as a regular board member of the state’s Board of Pardons and Paroles (BOPP).
Giles was the board chair until he was removed by Gov. Lamont two weeks ago. He implemented a policy that resulted in a drastic rise in the number of commuted sentences, which received an outcry from Republicans and victim families.
Between 2021 and 2022, 77 incarcerated individuals had their sentences shortened — including 44 for murder. Prior to that the board had only given out three commutations each year.
BOPP has since put a pause on granting any new commutations and according to their website they “are currently in the process of updating the commutation policy and will resume accepting applications and scheduling hearings within the next few months.”
The vote 79-67 — with all Republicans and 15 Democrats opposing — came after confirmation by the Senate on April 12.
Y CT Matters Podcast
This week Yankee Institute President Carol Platt Liebau interviews 4th grade teacher about why he chose to leave the union.
Click HERE to listen