Welcome to the Connecticut Municipal Employee Retirement System (CMERS), a state-run pension plan for local public employees that’s a little like the Hotel California: Once you’re in, good luck getting out. This state restriction on towns in CMERS stands in the way of reforms that would make retirement benefits for municipal employees safer and more sustainable – and it should be repealed.
Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and the Hartford Courant have recently called attention to legislators using mileage reimbursement to increase their compensation and pad their pensions. There were 251 working days in 2015. Legislators who received mileage reimbursement claimed anywhere from 1 to 245 trips from their hometown to the capitol. Yankee Institute obtained the mileage and reimbursement figures for all state senator and representatives through a Freedom of Information request.
In its administrative report to the governor, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which is tasked with investigating claims of discrimination in employment and housing, claimed that it had “the best production rate" of any similar agency by securing $10,250,000 in discrimination settlements from employers and property owners during FY16. But some employers and property owners liken the CHRO's practices to “extortion” and claim they are forced to settle with claimants to avoid a longer and more costly fight.
Payments awarded to state employees through a 2015 SEBAC settlement includes a 5 percent interest rate from the date of loss in 2003. Due to the size of the settlement and the number of claims to be processed some payments are delayed and will result in accruing more interest, adding to the financial burden taxpayers must cover.
This year, Connecticut lawmakers have the opportunity to show that they are committed to bringing jobs and prosperity back to our state. That starts with saying “no” to another tax increase, and “yes” to dismantling the barriers that hobble job and economic growth. During the 2017 legislative session, the Yankee Institute will be working with legislators, state officials and stakeholders in the following areas
It typically takes a couple of years to get a dog park up and running, but Maria believes that barring any unforeseen challenges the Weston dog park will be ready in 2017, about a year after the project launched – an ambitious timeframe she attributes to the helpfulness of local town officials. “I believe they want the park,” Maria said, adding that she understands the dog park is one more thing on their already-busy plates.