In 2014, Connecticut made national news coverage with some “interesting” bill proposals such as banning whole milk from daycares to fight childhood obesity and regulating the volume of movie theaters to protect people from hearing loss. Neither of these bills had any scientific backing and thankfully neither were passed. But that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from proposing a new batch of “interesting” legislation that may raise a few eyebrows. Here are some of this years’ strange offerings:
Marc E. Fitch
The town of Woodstock with a population of just 8,000 is giving big healthcare stipends to town hall employees who opt out of the town’s healthcare plan. Employees, including First Selectman Alan Walker Jr. and tax collector Linda Bernardi, receive stipends of $1,163 per month while getting healthcare coverage through their spouses. On an annual basis, the stipends add up to $13,956 and costs taxpayers about $98,000.
The Connecticut Commission on Economic Competitiveness held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss a report on the state's economy based on work from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The commission met at 10 a.m. and immediately went into executive session, removing all observers from the meeting. Commission Co-Chairman Joseph McGee said the executive session would allow the committee to work out all the numbers. “There is a lot of information,” he said.
In response to Gov. Dannel Malloy's planned budget cuts, the SEIU, District 1199, released a television ad Monday featuring some of its members declaring that they are “not a political football.” However, based on some of the salary and benefit packages these workers received it would appear they have already scored a touchdown.
Governor Malloy is spending this week in Puerto Rico at the annual Democratic Governors Association meeting and then taking some time off with his family. Puerto Rico is facing bankruptcy and looking for a federal bailout. Years of poor fiscal policies, government cronyism, overreach and interference in the free market has left the island-state with high unemployment and crippling debt. Hopefully the policy lessons of Puerto Rico’s struggles will not be lost on the governor. The island may be pretty but the economic challenges it faces - like Connecticut’s - are pretty ugly.
As Connecticut faces fiscal challenges driven by the high cost of state employee pay and benefits, a state audit highlights the fact that the two largest income sources for Eastern Connecticut State University – tuition and state support – don't even cover compensation for its employees. In fiscal year 2013, ECSU took in $32.6 million from student tuition and paid nearly $76 million in employee pay and benefits. The university also received $40.5 million from state appropriations but could not bridge the gap between revenue and the costs of its mostly-union workforce.