Connecticut lawmakers face high legal hurdles if they want to reform health benefits for retired state workers, according to a new study from the Manhattan Institute. A 2002 Connecticut Supreme Court decision set the precedent, ruling that retiree health benefits could not be changed when a collective bargaining contract ends. However, this precedent contradicts a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Marc E. Fitch
Several state union representatives spent more than half of the year working for their unions while still getting paid by the state, driving up overtime costs and putting an extra burden on the state budget. The year of 2015 contained 261 working days but Ronald J. McLellan, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent SEIU local 511, spent 201 of those days on union leave. He earned $111,000 in pay and fringe benefits from the state while working for the union, and continued to keep his title of lead power plant operator at Central Connecticut State University.
In the face of declining tax revenues and weak job reports, state lawmakers have to decide whether or not to continue to fund Governor Malloy's controversial First Five Plus program, which is scheduled to end this year. To fund the program, the state borrows money, which it then hands out to major corporations through grants, low interest loans and tax subsidies in order to create jobs. Commissioner Catherine Smith of the Department of Economic and Community Development testified before the Commerce Committee on March 15 that the program should continue for another three years.
A Freedom of Information Commission hearing officer recommended Monday in a draft decision that the New Milford school system make teacher evaluation ratings public. John Spatola, a former member of the New Milford Board of Education, brought a complaint seeking the ratings. Although individual teacher ratings are exempt from disclosure, Spatola's complaint and the draft decision would set a precedent for aggregate information about teacher performance. JeanAnn Paddyfote, the New Milford superintendent at the time, refused to comply with Spatola's request for the information prompting the complaint.
General Electric’s decision to move its corporate head-quarters from Fairfield to Boston, sent shock waves through the Connecticut political class. But it isn’t just corporations and billionaires that are leaving to seek new lives and opportunities elsewhere. Connecticut ranks fourth in the nation for people leaving, trailing New York, Illinois and Alaska. For several years, Connecticut has experienced a net loss of population and that is affecting the tax base to the tune of $60 per second. The state’s income tax earnings, which comprise nearly half of the state's revenue, was much lower than expected for fiscal year 2016 and has legislators scrambling to make up the difference.
Gregory Linhoff was arrested for smoking marijuana in his state vehicle while working at the UConn Health Center as a “skilled maintainer.” However, the Connecticut State Employee’s Union Independent is fighting his dismissal and has taken the issue all the way to the Connecticut Supreme Court.