Monday, February 18, 2013

The Emperor Has No Clothes.

Last Friday I attended a press conference at the State Capitol with the mayors of some of the largest cities in Connecticut to explain that the proposed budget that was put forth by Governor Malloy will hurt Danbury and the rest of the municipalities in Connecticut.

This was a bipartisan group that all have the same problem.

The recently proposed budget cuts state aid to municipalities - and, does not do what the Governor and his staff claim it does.

By shifting municipal grant money into different pools, (PILOT to ECS for example) the Governor can claim that he has increased education aid when he has not. By placing proposed increases in the Alliance Grant, and calling them ECS increases, the Governor forces the 30 communities in the program to spend more money to access grant money that by rights they should be given without the strings attached by the State Department of Education. By eliminating the Pequot Fund, and adding borrowed money to programs like LOCIP, the Governor forces cities and towns to spend on hard costs like fire engines and equipment, when cities and towns need to pay for firefighters and operational expenses.

It is the ultimate in misdirection, a slight of hand, a three card monte.

Finally, there is no separate line item with funding for school security upgrades. No mention of the monumental task that face municipalities across the state as they design plans and programs to keep staff and students safe after December 14th.The best the administration could do was point out that school security is now an additional use of LOCIP funds, which was an initiative proposed by State Representative John Frey of Ridgefield and adopted in the last special session of the Legislature in December.

Then there is the car tax proposal. Good idea, but poorly thought out, poorly planned and almost a throw away in the budget. Danbury would lose $10 million under the Governor's proposal, and there is no mechanism or thought  as to how that money would be replaced. Hold harmless? Seriously?

Chief elected officials in Connecticut understand the systemic financial problems that face our state. We know that we have to be part of the solution. We want to help, but, be straight with us and be straight with the people who are paying the bills - the taxpayers of Connecticut.

It's probably time to recognize that our state government is close to the edge of being broke, and that the changes that were supposed to save money in the last budget didn't work. The proposed budget is balanced in theory only and with an over reliance on borrowing it will push crushing debt and costs off to another year and to be paid for by another generation. Our state spending is outpacing the rate by which we can generate revenue, and we ended 2012 with zero job growth.

The emperor has no clothes...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Level 3 Snow Emergency As of 5 pm.

Here's what that means:

Snow Emergency Level 3All vehicles are prohibited from parking on city streets. All vehicles must be removed no later than two (2) hours after the start of a winter storm, and may be returned after all snow-and-ice-control operations have ceased. Travel on city streets is restricted to emergency vehicles, four wheel drive, and emergency personnel only. Level 3 is to be used in extreme situations only. If residents have no other place to park, the Patriot parking garage will be open free of charge for the duration of the storm. Cars on city streets will be ticketed and towed.

Level 3 Snow Emergency will be in effect for the overnight hours.

Latest Thoughts On The Storm.

No map, the snow predictions are just too ridiculous to post. We will get plenty of snow. Will it be a historic amount? I am not so sure...

The models have begun to show a consistent push to the east. That puts the crazy snow amounts in Mass and maybe RI. - although I am skeptical that 30" plus will fall even out there.

Having said that, what do I, a complete lay person think for the Greater Danbury area? I'm sticking with 8" to 12" of snow, blowing and drifting with strong winds - it will be a solid wallop for us, but not Armageddon..

Level 1 snow emergency in Danbury, please move your car off of the street - Patriot Garage is open. Don't forget to shovel your sidewalk.

I'll be back with updates as the storm progresses.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Latest Snowfall Total - Maybe.

Courtesy of StormTeam 8

Here is the latest map of projected snowfall total. Take it with a grain of salt. The Greater Danbury area could see much more, or a lot less. It all depends on the track. I'll have an update after 6 pm.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Waiting is the Hardest Part..

Across Connecticut Chief Elected Officials in cities and towns are waiting to see the Governor's budget that will be rolled out on Feb. 6th.

Will there be cuts to municipal aid? How deep will the cuts go? Where and from what pools of state aid will the Governor recommend cutting?

The actions of the current administration in Hartford can be baffling. To try and guess what direction the administration is trying to move Connecticut is almost impossible.

For example, last year the administration and the legislature created the Alliance School Districts - these are school districts that are in need of  academic improvement. Danbury made that list and received an extra $1.7 million in state aid for education. Sounds great, but, in order to access the money you had to develop an improvement plan and create new programming. New programming! At a time when many school districts can't pay for the basic services - in some cases struggling to keep the lights on, the state decided to mandate new programming.

Danbury receives approximately $24 million in state aid in education money. A recent report by the administration's ECS Task Force said that Danbury is underfunded in state aid for education by $22 million. Did you get that? $22 million!

At the same time while we struggle to educate our children to level that they deserve, the Governor announces $1.5 billion in borrowed money for Uconn - nice, but, what's the point if our local school districts are short changed by millions billions of dollars? What child will be ready for college if their local school district does not have the necessary resources that are needed to prepare them for admission?

There are so many other questions..

Will the administration propose eliminating the car tax? If so, how will it supplant the income that goes to already stressed municipalities?

How will school security be funded?

With a projected $1.2 billion deficit next fiscal year, and a $1 billion deficit in 14'/15' what systemic changes to state government will be suggested to balance the budget?

Ahhh .... The waiting is the hardest part..