Bledar Iljazi came to the United States as a child in 1986 when his family decided they could no longer live under the government of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Now the entire family - twelve members across three generations - is fleeing Connecticut and pursuing a better life in South Carolina. “The way everything was ten years ago - the economy and taxes - it wasn’t as bad, but right now for small businesses we’re getting hit with taxes left and right. They’re pretty much just making them up,” Bledar said.
The traditional image of the union member as being a working class, blue collar factory worker has been replaced by a new reality: the state-employed bureaucrat enjoying perks and high pay at taxpayer expense. Figures show that six in 10 union members work for government. While some of them plow roads and keep us safe, many more are social workers, white-collar administrators and highly paid professors. Connecticut ranks fourth in the nation for the number of union members who work for government after only New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey.
When local law enforcement makes a drug trafficking arrest, the court has the ability to seize property - including cars and money - thought to be a part of the illegal operation. Vehicles and other property are then sold at auction and the proceeds are split between several state agencies. The practice is known as civil asset forfeiture and it brings in millions to state agencies. But some local police departments are slow to pay up.
Photographs taken at the Governor’s 2016 Economic Forum in February highlight a number of troubling statistics. - Poverty among minority groups is rising faster than others. - The decline in Connecticut manufacturing jobs has wiped out more than half of all job growth since the 1990s. - Middle-skill jobs in the science and technology sector are the hardest to fill. - Connecticut has some of the highest long-term unemployment rates in the nation.
The state of Connecticut paid out $28 million in wrongful imprisonment awards in 2015 and 2016, significantly more than in previous years. Lawmakers passed a bill this week creating legislative oversight for those awards and a formula to determine the amount of compensation for a wrongfully convicted individual. Under the proposed legislation the claims commission would be able to award up to twice the median state income per year of incarceration, adjusted for inflation. It also gives the claims commissioner discretion to award an additional 25 percent, but any payout over $20,000 would be subject to legislative review.
The minimum yearly earnings needed to be qualified for unemployment benefits in Connecticut is $600, the third lowest requirement in the nation. The law was set in place in 1967 and has not been raised since. Adjusted for inflation, this figure would be $4,277.82 by today’s standards. A bill before the state Senate would raise Connecticut’s work requirement to $2,000 yearly and make several other adjustments to its unemployment calculations to put the state on equal footing with its neighbors.