Jahncke: Cancelling Raise For State Employees Could Raise More Than Lamont’s Final Toll Proposal and Almost Half of his Original

June 27, 2020 — Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, a Democrat, sees the unfairness of about 50,000 state employees getting a $350 million pay raise next Wednesday, July 1st while almost 600,000 private sector workers in Connecticut have lost their jobs. He said as much at a mid-June food bank give-away. It’s not just wages: the state workforce enjoys a contractual no-layoff guarantee through 2021 as well as gold plate health care and pension benefits. Yet Lamont cannot bring himself to cancel, suspend or even delay the raise, which follows a raise of roughly similar amount a year ago. As a result of the

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Getting There: How Safe is the Train?

As New York City businesses reopens it’s expected that one million people will get back to work, some of them from Connecticut.  But how they get to those jobs is the big question. While I’ve written for weeks that I expect many Nutmeggers will opt first for their personal automobiles, the resulting traffic mess will soon have them reconsidering a return to Metro-North and the city’s subways. The big issue, of course, is keeping everyone safe by maintaining social distancing and requiring face masks for all riders. MORE TRAINS & SUBWAYS Metro-North has already expanded rush hour service by 26%

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Twenty Year Telecommuter Misses the City

Joe Connolly has been a telecommuter for 20 years. You probably know him from his award winning business reports on WCBS Newsradio 880 or his Small Business Breakfasts held annually in Stamford.  But you might not realize that Connolly lives not in New York City but in eastern Connecticut. He’s up and working weekdays by 4:30 am, driving first to pick up a print copy of the Wall Street Journal before heading to his office /  broadcast studio near his home, where he seldom opens the window-blinds.  “I’m here to work,” he says, “not for the view.” In his broadcast

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One Size Does Not Fit the Virus

The nation and Connecticut are reopening fitfully and unevenly from a shutdown that many think should not have happened – many including Pulitzer-Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman of the left-leaning New York Times and Dr. David L. Katz, a Connecticut MD and an expert with a public health degree from Yale. Our “one-size-fits-all” shutdown policy is strange in the face of a virus which afflicts different population segments in such wildly different ways. For those over age 65, who comprise only 16 percent of the country’s population, the virus has been devastating. This age group has sustained about 80 percent of

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State Workers Should Give Back

For the second time in a decade over 100,000 private sector workers in Connecticut have lost their jobs, while not a single state employee has been laid off in either instance. For almost the entire decade, state workers have enjoyed contractual no-layoff guarantees, presently extending to 2021. Not only that, following the Great Recession, state workers got three 3 percent annual pay raises, and, now, they will get a 3.5% wage hike in just three months – on the heels of a 3.5% pay raise last July 1st. That’s unfair, almost cruelly so in face of the unfolding economic ravages

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Lessons from the Collapse

We are obviously living history that no one in the future would like to repeat.  So, what are the lessons to be learned? There are many small-scale lessons.  Wash your hands more often.  Don’t touch your face so much.  But what are the lessons we can learn from the big policies which have been implemented in the run up to this catastrophe?  At the federal level it is fair to say that, at least when it comes to economics, the policy has been to cut taxes, run deficits, and slash most non-military spending.  Apparently, this was supposed to result in

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Balancing Virus Response With Economic And General Health Consequences

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The coronavirus is not the only threat we face. As I wrote in The Hill on last Thursday and The Wall Street Journal editorialized last Friday, we may face a far greater threat from a collapsed economy, which would devastate everyone’s financial and medical condition. This should be of special concern in Connecticut which entered the current crisis already economically anemic and financially shaky. While this may not be popular to say, we should rethink shutdown policies in Connecticut. Actually, it may not be unpopular. A new Pew Research Center poll shows that 70 percent of Americans see the virus

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Jahncke: Tolling Revenues Won’t Add Up

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There’s a new game in Connecticut. It’s called dodge-a-gantry. Right now, it is only a virtual game being played on Google Maps. Governor Lamont latest toll plan – he’s had many – is to toll only tractor-trailer trucks at just 12 highway bridges in the state. So what are truckers doing? They are getting ready to game Lamont’s proposed system. They are researching the best toll evasion routes, i.e. the best local roads to use to bypass the intended highway gantry locations. The governor and his advisors have failed to take into account a unique and fundamental obstacle to imposing

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Connecticut’s Hospital Tax Exploits Medicaid to Finance Irresponsible State Spending

Hartford is exploiting an anomaly in the Medicaid program to extract billions from the U.S. Treasury, not to finance health care, but rather to finance otherwise unaffordable state spending, primarily state employee health care and retirement benefits. This anomaly, or “shell game” (the term used in a U.S. Senate committee report) operates through the hospital tax. While all states impose this tax, no state imposes nearly as high a hospital tax rate. That’s what former Office of Policy and Management Director Ben Barnes told me in late 2017. He said Connecticut’s hospital tax scheme requires explicit federal approval, because the

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Opinion: Lessons of a Manure Pile

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that made their living as dairy and potato farmers. This meant lots of good old- fashioned farm work, but it also meant I could have a horse. That started a journey that lead me to the upper reaches of the equestrian world, but that is a story for another day Today I was out in the barn cleaning the stalls of my rescue horse “Wesley” and my miniature rescue donkey “Donkay Hoyate.” As I pushed the wheelbarrow out to the manure pile — I refer to this as wheelbarrow aerobics —

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Opinion: The Ongoing Game of Whack-a-Toll

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Highway tolls in Connecticut have become a game of whack-a-mole. Governor Lamont’s toll mole has popped up again, after having been whacked summarily by General Assembly leaders of his own party less than two weeks ago. The current mole is a variant of the Governor’s original trucks-only campaign proposal. Things have gone full circle. The whole toll mole game started with candidate Lamont’s vague trucks-only plan. Lamont whacked his own proposal after his inauguration, saying that truck tolls alone wouldn’t raise enough money. He added cars, and presented a sketchy 8-page plan with a smothering network of as many as

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Opinion: Vanishing Inequality, the Devil’s Greatest Trick

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 whodunit “The Usual Suspects.”  The last line of the film has always stuck with me: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”  This line originated in a book on Quakerism from 1834 in which John Wikinson wrote, “One of the artifices of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.” Phil Gramm and John Early have apparently decided to ape this trick.  Their recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal includes “author’s calculations” implying that our country isn’t really very unequal

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Opinion: The Surprising Income Equality in America

This is a column about a column. On November 4, 2019, the Wall Street Journal published a column entitled “The Truth About Income Inequality,” by Phil Gramm, former U.S. Senator from Texas, and John Early, twice Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The column makes a convincing case that the U.S. enjoys remarkable income equality –  not inequality. This reality flies in the face of the almost universal belief that the U.S. suffers from gross income inequality, which notion serves as the foundation of all the extravagant proposals from one side of the political spectrum, ranging from

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Opinion: On Fixing Connecticut’s Budget

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Connecticut citizens wonder why the state can’t get its budget act together. Why is Connecticut’s infrastructure crumbling when improvements are supposed to be funded by the gas tax? Why can’t we get our heads — or budgets — around healthcare that works for everybody. Our public pensions are grossly underfunded. We’re backsliding when it comes to children and family welfare. All we ever hear is that our young entrepreneurs are leaving the state, and the cost of living continues to rise. All of this is significantly impacted by the way Connecticut budgets. In my 18 years in the General Assembly

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Ferdinand the Bull and Lyme Academy of Fine Arts

We have become addicted to immediate gratification. We want greater rewards with less work. We see that attitude in a stock market driven by traders focused on every move by the Federal Reserve, while fundamental research has been relegated to the back burner. We see it in the news where every mis-step by a politician is recorded on the front page, while little attention is paid to the longer-term consequences of his or her policies. We see it in a decline in community volunteerism. In Old Lyme, we risk losing a cherished institution that is the Lyme Academy of Fine

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On the Trail with Jonnie Edwards

This is really a story about what happened when Patty met Jonnie—that special combustion of personality, a desire to help others, that resulted in a unique therapeutic program called The Next Step. I am here to find out more about what The Next Step is all about.

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