Imagine if Connecticut had 2.5 million people working here. That would mean nearly a million more people at work. What would be different? There would be more jobs to choose from and more options when it comes to shopping, eating or having fun. Some families that moved apart seeking opportunity elsewhere would still be together. Many new people would have arrived, bringing new ideas and opportunity with them.
Figures released Tuesday by the Office of Fiscal Analysis show Connecticut made big strides in reducing overtime, despite recent state employee layoffs. In fiscal year 2016, state agencies reduced overtime payments by 14.5 percent, $37 million less than the previous year. The biggest reduction in overtime came from the Department of Correction, which reduced overtime by $21.4 million, followed by the Department of Developmental Services, which reduced overtime spending by $5.2 million.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is poised to take on a new role: hotel and spa owner. Governor Malloy cancelled a contract with a private investor and directed DEEP to turn the Seaside Regional Center in Waterford into a hotel, spa and public park. Rather than selling the property to Allied Development Group for $8 million for the exact same purpose, the state is trying to spend $21 million - by their own estimate - to turn the property into a viable tourist destination.
Groton has been trying in vain to meet state racial balance requirements for its schools since 2000, but now city leaders have a new idea: build one giant middle school. The effort - known as the Groton 2020 plan - comes with a price-tag of $191.7 million. With up to 80 percent of construction costs being paid for by the state, the Groton 2020 plan is a prime example of how court-imposed racial balance guidelines are forcing districts to build new schools and costing towns and the state millions. Yet, despite the money spent many remain dissatisfied with the results.
Public schools in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford face a variety of challenges. Safety concerns, budget deficits, low student performance and in-fighting among school board members have parents looking for alternative ways to get their children a good education. CEO of Connecticut is just one of many similar organizations throughout the United States that have made school choice and opportunity for inner city children their mission. Funded only through private donation, foundations like CEO are an example of people coming together to find a solution to a problem that has long plagued state and federal government.
Connecticut cut $1 billion from its planned borrowing this year in response to lowered tax revenue but is still moving forward with a massive project to update the state office building at 165 Capitol Avenue. Among the projects and grants-in-aid that didn’t make the bonding cut was $4.5 million for repairs and alterations to group homes and residential facilities with the Department of Children and Families.