January 31, 2020
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane


Well it's official, CT is inching its way back as far as the economy is concerned. Just recently, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that CT's economy perked up by 2.1% this past quarter. That's three times in a row we've seen a plus versus a negative in the state. It's small, but a mighty achievement considering all the bad news folks are trying to spread about where CT is going and why folks should pick up and depart for sunnier spots.

In 2019, we saw a 7.5% growth in our GDP compared to 2018 with only a 0.5% growth. The particular areas that CT saw growth are interesting: retail, professional services, scientific and technical services and whole sale trades. Unfortunately the durable goods category, aka manufacturing, only grew by 0.5% and our beloved insurance and finance sector didn't fare well, falling by 0.55%.

So while CBIA reports that CT is great at growing and replacing manufacturing jobs, we are a bit slow on the re-tooling of insurance and finance jobs. It looks like the legislature should pay particular attention to that fact in that they have tended to look to the finance world (aka hedge funds) to make up any state deficits or to tap them as wealthy 1%ers who should shoulder a higher rate of taxation than other industries. This might not be a prudent things to do until CT figures out what it wants to be when it finally grows up.

An interesting point to note by CBIA recently was that CT is lumped in a pool of other states where the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia predicted the state's GDP will decline in the next six months. While the Federal Reserve Bank held off raising interest rates to help spur continued growth, it would not be the time for CT's legislature to tap the one sector that's very mobile and nervous about how CT digs its way out of continuous yearly budget deficits.

One good note is that CT's budget looks like its settling in the black versus the red category for another quarter, and that should mean a quiet tax cycle for CT businesses and consumers this session. From budget estimates recently published by the legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis (OLR), we know that state overtime spending is back on the rise as well as the state's Medicaid program growth. While the costs have been held tight, the eligibility and lack of a residency threshold in CT makes it a draw. With a shift to a value-based systems, officials are hoping to take even more advantage of lower costs and expanding the provider pool. (It's important to note that CT reports one of the lowest uninsured rates in the country - 185,000 uninsured residents or a 5% rate. Not bad.) Though as the session is ready to open the initiative to pass a public option for healthcare along with the soon to be effective higher minimum wage law, we predict that there's going to be a continued look at healthcare costs and the impact on state budgets.

More details will start to emerge on the state of the 2019 state budget, especially since the Governor will address the legislature on February 5th, the Opening Day of the legislative session and fill in the blanks on exactly how we are doing. Don't miss it! But if you do, you can catch up next week with In the Loop and find out all the details.

CT Agency Corner
A Quasi-Agency Coming to the Rescue of Another Quasi-Agency 
by Michael Johnson
It was reported by the Hartford Business Journal yesterday that the CT Port Authority (CPA), which has been under a large amount of scrutiny for spending money on items outside of regulatory approval, is now being proposed to be given oversight by the CT Airport Authority (CAA) whose offices are located at Bradley International Airport.
The new role for CAA is simply set up as an advisory one for helping to oversee the implementation of plans and set up a co-government structure with the assistance of CAA and the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). Former Gov. Dannel Malloy established the CAA as a quasi-public in 2011 to oversee Bradley International Airport and Connecticut's five general aviation airports. He also helped create the CT Port Authority in the final session under his tenure in 2018. The lack of oversight in the initial launch of the authority has been rectified after the former Port Authority Chairwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder had paid $3,250 to her daughter for six professional photographs hung in the CPA's Old Saybrook office.
As reported by HBJ, CAA Executive Director Kevin Dillon stated, "We're going to be interacting with the Port Authority staff to compare notes as to how they're doing business, and we'll be able to offer them suggestions on different improvements we think they can make."
This move definitely makes the agency's success a top priority for the administration synchronizing the success achieved by CAA in the past decade with a quasi-agency looking for a sustainable path forward.

Did You Know?
This Week in CT History
January 28, 1878
The World's First Commercial Telephone Exchange & Connecticut's First Transcontinental Phone
In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design.

The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited. It wasn't until a New Haven inventor by the name of George Willard Coy created the world's first commercial telephone exchange.

On January 28, 1878, Coy's telephone exchange, under the aegis of the District Telephone Company of New Haven, went live, ushering the world into a new age of live, long-distance, and convenient communication. 

For its first month of operation, the District Telephone Company had twenty-one subscribers - mostly businesses and government offices - who paid $1.50 a month for the service. Less than a month later, the number of subscribers had more than doubled, inspiring Coy to publish the world's first telephone directory on February 21 - a one-page listing of all fifty subscribers on his exchange.  

The switchboard quickly became a fundamental feature of telephone communications the world over, and Coy's company, which renamed itself the Southern New England Telephone company in 1882, and would become one of New England's most influential companies of the 20th century. 
In This Issue:

by Ryan Bingham

It's report card time in Connecticut! The State of Connecticut has issued report cards for every school district in the state, and the good news is that we don't have to go running to the mail box to intercept the report card before our parents can see it. 
Many municipalities will be pleased with the results this year and maybe they'll get one of those bumper stickers that say "Proud Parents of an Honor Roll Student." The State Department of Education handed out a 0 to 100 grade to every public school and district in the state on Thursday, and the majority of them earned a better grade than last year. The reports are referred to as "Next Generation Report Cards," and take into account over a dozen different metrics. Some of the measurements included standardized test scores, how many students are chronically absent, enroll in arts and Advanced Placement courses, graduate from high school and enroll in college within a year of graduation.
The Deputy Commissioner of Education for the state Desi Nesmith said, "We are encouraged to see improvement in several indicators since we first began using the Next Generation Accountability System in 2015-16," and that "we are especially pleased by the more than 5% growth in [college and career readiness]. This bodes well as we position our PreK-12 system to be more responsive to the college and career pathways currently needed in our state."
Here at S&L we are proud to learn that the Danbury School District, one of our illustrious clients, received seven "Schools of Distinction" awards. These awards are given to schools who excelled during the latest round of testing. 
You don't need to go running to the mailbox to find out how your local school did. You can find that here at CT Mirror.  Here are the lists of the best and the worst school districts.

2020 Behind the Scenes
by Chelsea Neelon

This week, we featured Representative Julio Concepcion who represents the 4th House District.
What motivated you to run for office?
Thanks largely to my parents, I learned the value of giving back to my community at an early.  After graduating from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!), I knew I wanted give back to the city that had given me and my family so much.  I quickly realized that good policy making could be a catalyst to make genuine positive changes in our community.   This notion motivated me to run for City Council in 2015 and for the legislature in 2018.

What are some of your legislative priorities this session?
My priorities will always be centered on the greatest needs of my community.  Issues around economic development, small business growth, transportation (specifically bike and pedestrian safety) and public safety will be important to me during this short session.  Any legislation that addresses these critical issues I will see as imperative.  

Last question! What's your favorite hobby?
I'm a HUGE sports nut.  I love to travel to different cities across the country and take in a sporting event, regardless of what sport it is. 

Upcoming Events

House Democrats Winter Fundraiser
Friday, January 31
Agave Restaurant
Hartford, CT