July 20th, 2018
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane

Us vs. Them is alive and well at the Capitol.
This week, the Governor continued with his proactive initiatives to bring to fruition several priority projects he's had on the back burner. And oh my, there are a lot of not-so-happy campers in the LOB. The Democratic leaders, except Comptroller Kevin Lembo, have been silent and the House and Senate leaders are all over the news cycle about many of the Governor's recent announcements.
It kicked off with Senator Len Fasano questioning the recent announcement of a Chinese-American businessman's award of the sale of West Hartford branch of UConn. For some reason, Senator Fasano believes the due diligence wasn't up to his standards, even though Seven Stars Cloud Group, Inc. guaranteed the sale with a bond. The bond will be for not only the cost of the purchase, but the cost of environmental remediation. Can't quite figure that one out, except it appears that the Republican leaders aren't really happy with the Malloy administration's economic development strategy these days.
On another front, the Governor announced he was asking the Bond Commission to approve a $10 million study of tolls for Connecticut with only five and a half months left in his term. Ouch! This announcement not only drove the Republican leaders out to the media, it put Comptroller Kevin Lembo in a pickle when he announced he would not support the action by the Governor. Rank and file legislators who strongly support tolls jumped on the stairways to support the Governor actions. Other rank and file legislators understand the public distrust of the plan to protect the toll revenue from being used to close the nearly $1 billion deficit the state is facing after the Malloy administration leaves office.
Of the two actions, we hear that the toll study is the biggest concern for many legislators and many regular taxpayers as well.
So much for the quiet summer days in Hartford.

CT Agency Corner   
DOT - Showdown over Tolls Set for Next Wednesday 
by Mike Johnson

The tolls debate takes another dramatic turn in the legislature with Malloy issuing an executive order to place a $10M study of tolls on the bond commission agenda for approval next week. There are a few things to consider on this topic:
  • The state as recent as 2015 already conducted a full scale evaluation on tolling in CT, so this would be continuing the work of that study conducted three years ago.
  • This is being placed on the agenda that will likely pass since the majority of those who sit on the bond commission serve within the executive branch of government. Despite this, Comptroller Lembo has a seat on the commission and will be voting no on authorizing the bond to pay for a study.
  • Legislative Republicans have already issued their displeasure with the initiative and have asked that the legislature consider petitioning for a special session of the bond is authorized next Wednesday. 
There will certainly be a large spotlight on this issue leading up to the meeting next week.

The Real Scoop

It's campaign season folks! Mark your calendars for upcoming debates to learn more about those candidates running for office this fall.

SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY, WSHU PUBLIC RADIO, HEARST CONNECTICUT MEDIA GROUP will host separate primary debates for the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates moderated by Hearst Connecticut's Ken Dixon at Sacred Heart University, Martire Business & Communications Center, 5401 Park Avenue, Fairfield. The events are open to the public and will be live-streamed on Hearst Connecticut's news websites and aired live on 89.9FM.
  • Republican Debate: Tuesday, July 24 at 2 p.m.
  • Democratic Debate:Thursday, July 26 at 2 p.m.

The Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges (CCIC) will co-host a Republican and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate forum with the Connecticut Mirror and Connecticut Public Radio and the events will be moderated by WNPR's John Dankosky:
  • Republican Candidate Forum on Monday, Aug. 6, with a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and the forum will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Quick Center for the Arts, Fairfield University, 1073 North Benson Road, Fairfield.
  • Democratic Candidate Forum on Tuesday, Aug. 7, with a reception from 6 to 7 p.m. and the forum will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bucknall Theater, University of New Haven, 300 Boston Post Road, West Haven.
WFSB will host a series of political debates in partnership with UConn moderated by Dennis House:
  • Gubernatorial Debate on Wednesday, Sept. 26, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the UConn Storrs Campus.
  • U.S. Senate Debate on Sunday, Oct. 7, from 11 a.m. to noon at the WFSB Rocky Hill Studio.

Did You Know?

In This Issue:
by Ryan Bingham

An interesting new study came out this week analyzing the nation's most stressful cities.  Out of the top 50 in the nation, Bridgeport and New Haven made the list.  WalletHub.com produced the study where it ranked Detroit as the most stressful city. In CT, Bridgeport ranked 33rd and New Haven ranked 41st.  This was based on analysis that considered stress in the areas of workplace, finances, family and health & safety as contributing factors.  Within the metrics job security, traffic congestion, unemployment rates, average commute times and income growth were considered.  These are all contributors to stress in Americans.
Another study was released this week that would be counterintuitive to those who believe regionalization in Connecticut would be more efficient and could cost tax payers less.  A Greater Hartford study suggested that "generalizations about regionalization oversimplify a complex topic," and that "K-12 regionalization can actually increase costs and harm educational outcomes."  According to the study paid for by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving suggests that there are many factors that need to be considered before wholesale regionalization such as minimum/maximum number of students, thoughtlessly combining school districts, boards of education and central office staff.  These decisions could result in closing schools, eliminating teaching positions, reducing administrative staff and increasing student to teacher ratios; some of these items could be considered great outcomes for those footing the bill, but could result in poor results.  There is currently no optimum size for school and classrooms and that these decisions could result in diseconomies of scale from higher transportation expenses, higher expenses due to regionalizing and renegotiating staff contracts, and increases in mid-level administrators.  It also compared what could happen in CT to what happened recently in Vermont, where there was a conflicting set of goals resulting from the desire to save money but Vermonter's did not want to lose local control.

the Scenes
by Chelsea Neelon

Today's the day! 

The deadline is here for candidates hoping to qualify for the CEP grant. Republican governor candidate Steve Obstinik, despite hurdles, finally was able to secure the grant earlier this week. We are still waiting to hear whether Lt. Gov. Democratic candidate Eva Bermudez Zimmerman and Lt. Gov. Republican candidate Erin Stewart have qualified, a decision that can make or break a campaign in this unparalleled election cycle.

As we inch closer to primary day, the debates for candidates are rolling on. Things are heating up in the race for Governor on the Republican side. Each of the five candidates trying to convince the voters they are the best for the job, even if that mean taking some jabs at their opponents to highlight differences. That being said, the Democratic candidates for Governor, Ned Lamont and Mayor Joe Ganim, aren't pulling any punches either. Ganim continues to focus his attack on Lamont's lack of relatability to the common, middle-class citizen, while Lamont called out Ganim on using his time to run for governor rather than focus on finishing his term as Bridgeport's mayor and "double-dipping" his time.

While the Governor candidates are getting their fair share of headlines, let us not forget about the other statewide candidates on the tickets. All Attorney General candidates on the Democratic side have qualified for their CEP grants, while Republican Party endorsed candidate Susan Hatfield is still waiting to hear. All treasurer candidates on each side are waiting to hear whether they qualified, minus Republican Party endorsed candidate Thad Grey, who opted out of the CEP program. We will be sure to keep you posted as SEEC reviews the paperwork for all statewide candidates still trying to qualify for the CEP grant.

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