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My Left Nutmeg

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My Left Nutmeg

Friday roundup

by: ctblogger

Fri Feb 20, 2015 at 09:56:10 AM EST

The latest...
  • LITTMAN: "Governor's Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable"
    Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

    One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building "systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities," particularly in light of research showing that "approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18."

    Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

    According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the "Children's Budget" - state government spending that directly benefits young people - makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor's proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

    That's before we even get to health care and education.

  • BIGELOW: "Malloy Transportation Plan Necessary, Not Revolutionary"
    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy unveiled his transportation plan Wednesday in his annual budget address. The plan's notable for a two big things - first, for the worrisome lack of information on how we're going to pay for all of this, and second, for just how little it'll really change transportation in Connecticut.

    For all the talk about vision and designing the transportation system of the future, the plans Gov. Malloy outlined in his speech and in the accompanying plan are really more of the same than anything else.

  • NEWSTIMES: "State budget proposal adds money for charter schools, cuts higher ed funds"
    The governor wants to hold the line on the state's funding of public education, a move that comes as a relief to some districts and may spell disaster for others.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed budget for the next two years would add no new money for the state's $2 billion Education Cost Sharing Grant, but it would reduce special funding for some struggling urban districts and cut $8.4 million from higher education.

  • CT MIRROR: "CT colleges: Proposed cuts would probably reduce staff and raise tuition"
    Potentially facing painful cuts in funding from the state, college leaders on Thursday projected what it would take to close their deficits purely with tuition hikes or staff reductions.

    To meet the demands of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's newly proposed budget, community colleges would have to raise tuition by as much as 16 percent, a $619 increase for full-time students from Connecticut, officials said. The four regional Connecticut State Universities would have to raise tuition by as much as 8 percent, a $733 increase annually for students.

    If only staff reductions were used to reduce costs, the system would have to shrink its workforce by about 360 people, a 6 percent loss of full-time staff. Officials said they would not turn entirely to staff reductions to close a deficit, nor would they look only to tuition.

    "It's probably going to be a combination of all of these," said Richard Balducci, a member of the Board of Regents, during a budget meeting with college leaders.

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The Biggest Winner in Malloy's Budget - Charter Schools

by: ctblogger

Thu Feb 19, 2015 at 09:03:54 AM EST

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Let's hear it for turning over our scarce public funds to the Corporate Education Reform Industry!

While Governor Dannel Malloy proposes to cut funding for Connecticut's public schools, he miraculously finds that extra money needed to open four new privately owned, but taxpayer funded, charter schools.

Steve Perry, the outgoing principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford has undoubtedly popped the champagne cork and is drooling at the prospect of collecting more than $10 million in "management fees" over the next five years when his private company opens Capital Prep Harbor Charter School in Bridgeport.

And the out-of-state company that plans to replicate its Bronx based charter school in Stamford must be equally as happy.

True the Bridgeport and Stamford Boards of Education had strongly opposed both charter schools and asked the Malloy administration NOT to approve them, but the "local control is crap" governor went ahead and funded the two charter schools anyway.

Malloy is so incredibly committed to the privatization of Connecticut's public schools that he even added funding for two more charter schools despite the fact that there are no additional, approved charter school proposals even in the pipeline.

In total Malloy is proposing to add nearly 2,000 more seats for the charter school industry in Connecticut....more seats despite the fact that charter schools remain completely unaccountable for the way they use or misuse their public funds.

And as for Malloy's budget speech covering up the biggest cuts to public education in history, Malloy said,

"We must maintain our commitment to funding public education. While other states may choose to balance their budgets on the backs of public schools, Connecticut will not," Malloy told legislators during his budget address. "I will not sign a budget that is balanced on the backs of our towns or our public schools."

George Orwell and Franz Kafka would be proud!

[Of course, since the Common Core frowns on so-called fiction, our children won't even be learning about how books like 1984 and The Trial foretold the coming of the political environment that is sweeping across our nation.]

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VIDEO: Gov. Malloy budget proposal presentation

by: ctblogger

Wed Feb 18, 2015 at 10:26:15 AM EST

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News Flash: Malloy reneges on sales clothing exemption commitment to pay for tiny cut in sales tax

by: ctblogger

Mon Feb 16, 2015 at 10:04:16 AM EST

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Updated - see new CT Mirror story

A Wait, What? moment if there every was one...

Nine months ago, Governor Malloy signed a bill into law that exempting clothing costing less than $50 from the state sales tax starting on July 1, 2105.  Throughout his recent campaign for re-election he promised over and over again that the his tax cuts would remain in law despite Connecticut's budget deficits.

But today, everything changed.... And just wait till you see how he is trying to cover up his action...

Today Governor Malloy took to WFSB-TV's Face The State to announce that later this week, when he presents his budget plan to a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly on how to solve next year's projected $1.4 billion budget deficit, he will be proposing a reduction in Connecticut's sales tax from its current rate of 6.35 percent to 6.20 percent starting on November 1, 2015 (a quarter way through the coming fiscal year) and then to 5.95 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Without ever telling WFSB Face the State host Dennis House how the sales tax cut would actually be paid for, Malloy had the gall to proclaim, "I think it's a way to give some relief to the middle class as the economy keeps improving."

What Malloy failed to explain was the he is "finding the money" for this minor cut by reneging on the cloth tax exemption that is already in law and scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2015.

So let's all understand just what Governor Dannel Malloy is proposing.

Malloy is saying he will make a microscopic cut in the sales taxes while at the same time repealing a law that he signed that eliminates the sales tax on clothing and he saying that his proposal is designed to "give some relief to the middle class"

The CT Mirror's Keith Phaneuf was the only news outlet to figure out Malloy's incredible bait and switch tactic noting that the,

"[Clothing Tax Break] scheduled to start this July under legislation Malloy signed last May - would save consumers $145 million next year," while "Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he will propose lowering Connecticut's sales tax rate this week, while eliminating a partial exemption on clothing to produce a net tax revenue increase of $68 million in the next fiscal year."

To reiterate, Malloy told TV viewers that he was LOWERING the sales tax rate to levels not seen since 1971, but the way he is doing it by reneging on a promise - that he signed into law - that would have provided for a $50 sales tax exemption on clothing - a change that was supposed to take place in less than five months.

According to Phaneuf,

"Mark Bergman, his spokesman, released limited revenue numbers after the broadcast and confirmed that the primary change would be the elimination of a partial sales tax exemption on clothing."

Bergman said the governor's proposed changes would yield a net sales tax revenue increase of $68...."

You can read more of the ugly details at http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/15...

Updated CT Mirror story - http://ctmirror.org/2015/02/15...

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Thursday roundup

by: ctblogger

Thu Feb 12, 2015 at 09:27:31 AM EST

The latest...
  • Only in Bridgeport!
    [Al] Sharpton was to visit the home base of the Rev. Kenneth Moales, a candidate for state Senate in the 23rd District, for what was billed as a "voter registration event." But some saw the visit as an endorsement of Moales' candidacy, and supporters of former state Sen Ed Gomes, another 23rd District candidate, said they reached out to Sharpton to put a stop to it.

    In the end, Sharpton was a no-show.

    "In the midst of all the hoopla around an election, some people are more concerned about local politics than the education of our children," said Sharpton in a video, presumably from his New York City office, played before a sparse audience in the church.

    "I would hope that after we get past the special election and local bickering that we can concentrate on a real effort to get people out in November," Sharpton said later in the video.

  • BIGELOW: "Marijuana Legalization in Connecticut? It's Worth a Shot"
    Marijuana is now legal in several states out west, and the world has yet to end. That's part of why two Connecticut lawmakers, Reps. Edwin Vargas, D-Hartford, and Juan Candelaria, D-New Haven, want to bring legalization east.

    Is that a good idea? What will happen if we fully legalize marijuana?

    Conventional wisdom on that breaks down into two camps: One side says that crime will go up, use will go up, and that all of this will pose a serious public health risk. The other says that legalization will save the government money, help keep people out of jail, and otherwise not make life too different.

    Which is true: dystopia or pothead paradise? Well, like most things, the reality falls somewhere in the murky middle.

  • CT MIRROR: "CT lawmakers wary of Obama's war powers request"
    Connecticut lawmakers were skeptical and cautious Wednesday in their response to President Obama's request for authorization to expand the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic state, especially when it came to the president's request to allow troops to operate on the ground for limited periods.

    "This authorization needs to make it crystal clear that U.S. combat troops cannot be sent back into the Middle East as part of this conflict, and I worry that the vague limitations on ground troops in today's draft may turn out to be no limitations at all," said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

    Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, was equally critical.

    "I am reviewing the [request] the president sent to Congress this morning and will reserve judgment on how I will vote until we know what Congress will be voting on," DeLauro said. "However I will not support any legislation that commits U.S. combat troops. I will be paying close attention to how our objectives in the region are defined and how we can ensure we are not dragged into an open-ended conflict."

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Forces behind effort to eliminate democratically elected Bridgeport BOE donate to Kenneth Moales Jr

by: ctblogger

Tue Feb 10, 2015 at 10:31:23 AM EST

A cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

Let's hear it for less democracy!

Just days before the voters of Bridgeport overwhelmingly defeated Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch's bizarre 2012 proposal to eliminate the democratically elected board of education in Bridgeport and replace it with one appointed by the Mayor, millionaire charter school champion Jonathan Sackler quietly wrote a personal check for $50,000 to help pay for the final set of mailings and advertisements designed to persuade Bridgeport voters to give up their right to vote for those who oversee their City's public schools.

Now Jonathan Sackler and many of the same pro-charter, anti-public education, pro-corporate elite are pumping money into Reverend Kenneth Moales Jr.'s campaign for State Senate with the goal of helping Moales qualify for a taxpayer-funded state campaign grant that he would use to pay for his campaign in the February 24th 2015 state senate special election.

It won't come as any surprise to those who have watched the ongoing effort to undermine and denigrate the people of Bridgeport that the very same individuals and groups that worked so hard to take away democracy in Bridgeport and keep Paul Vallas in charge of Bridgeport's schools are now working overtime to put Moales - a Malloy/Finch ally and disgraced former chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education - into the Connecticut State Senate.

The corporate elite, education reform industry and charter school advocates know that Kenneth Moales Jr. will be a safe vote for their anti-public education agenda, even if it means hurting the people of Bridgeport.

Jonathan Sackler, whose pharmaceutical company makes OxyContin, is a founding member of Achievement First, Inc., the large Charter School Management Company with schools in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  Sacker is also the corporate education reform industry advocate who formed ConnCAN, the charter school advocacy group.  Sackler was one of the largest donors to Finch's anti-democracy effort and now he tops the list for Moales as well.

Another key player for Moales is Andy Boas, the Chairman of the Board for Achievement First - Bridgeport, a member of the ConnCAN Board of Directors and the founder of The Charter Oak Challenge Foundation.  In 2012 Boa was also one of the largest contributors to Finch's campaign to do away with an elected school board in Bridgeport.

And now Boas and his wife, like Sacker and his wife, have both donated the maximum amount to Moales' campaign.

In total, more than half a dozen of Moales' largest campaign contributions have come from members of the Achievement First, Inc. or ConnCAN Boards of Directors.

Yet another major player in Finch's failed charter revision effort was Excel Bridgeport, Inc. the corporate funded education reform group that lobbied for the illegal state takeover of Bridgeport's schools and then dumped more than $101,000 to support of Finch's charter revision effort to do away with a democratically elected board of education.  Excel Bridgeport's founder, Megan Lowney, who is also one of Malloy's political appointees, recently gave Moales the maximum donation allowed under law.

Others who helped pay for Finch's failed anti-democracy campaign and are now stepping up with donations for Moales' campaign include;

Paul Vallas and his wife (now re-located back to Illinois)

Robert Trefrey

Trefrey is the former President/CEO of Bridgeport Hospital.  Trefrey chaired the illegal board that was handed control of Bridgeport's schools by Governor Malloy's administration.  When the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Malloy's attempt to take over the Bridgeport Schools was illegal, Malloy appointed Trefrey to the State Board of Education's Committee that oversees the state's technical high schools.  Bridgeport Hospital gave Finch's charter revision campaign the maximum allowable donation, even at a time it was laying off staff.  Trefrey has not given Moales the maximum allowable contribution.

Jeremiah Grace

Grace is the Connecticut State Director of the Northeast Charter School Network.  The organization not only lobbies for more charter schools but helps private charter school management companies develop applications to get public funds.

Lee Bollert

Bollert was an education advisor to Mayor Bill Finch and helped create Excel Bridgeport, Inc.

William McCullough

McCullough serves with Moales on the Board of Directors of Steve Perry's proposed Bridgeport charter school.

Kadisha Coates

Coates is a charter school advocate, member of Families for Excellent Schools and is the newest member of the Bridgeport Board of Education. Coates and her husband are both donors to Moales.

Liz Torres

Torres is a member of the Great Oaks Charter School Board of Directors.

Joshua Thompson

Thompson is the former Finch aide and Vallas assistant who posted on his on-line resume that he was the Deputy Mayor for Education in Bridgeport, even though he was no such thing. Thomson is now an executive New Leaders Fund, a corporate education reform advocacy group in New York City.  Brandon Clark, who ran on the Finch slate for Board of Education with Moales in 2013 but lost, also works with the New Leaders Fund with Thompson and also recently donated to Moales' campaign.

Other Moales donors include a number of employees, lobbyists and consultants associated with ConnCAN, Achievement First, Inc. and other charter schools organizations in Hartford, New Haven and out-of state.

In order to get the full taxpayer funded grant of Moales has filed the paperwork to get a state taxpayer funded grant.  In order to get the money he must raise a total of $11,250, of which 225 must come from people living in Bridgeport or Stratford.  Depending on the number of signatures collected, Moales could receive a public grant of up to $71,000

Although Moales submitted the paperwork to get a grant last Friday, a review of his public financing report reveals a variety of problems and suspicious donations that could prevent him from qualifying for the public funding.

Note:  A special thanks to Maria Pereira who also researched Moales' recent campaign finance report and provided her findings to the "Only in Bridgeport" blog.  

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