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Weston’s legislators discuss economy, education, and executive orders

There are “dark clouds” hovering above our state’s economy, according to State Senator John McKinney (28th District), who spoke at the 2012 legislative update on Wednesday, June 27, at Weston Town Hall.

Mr. McKinney was joined by fellow Republicans, state Senator Toni Boucher (26th District) and state Rep. John Shaban (135th) in a discussion about the state budget, education, new social legislation and a measure designed to improve the state’s response to major storms.

The main topic was the economy. The legislators explained that the state’s budget deficit was $284 million as of April 30, and as of May 8, a new budget was adopted that borrowed $222 million to “cover up” the deficit.

This budget adjustment “relied on gimmicks,” according to the legislators and alternative budgets proposed by Republicans were not accepted.

Mr. McKinney also mentioned that one of the largest hedge funds in Connecticut had moved out, which will result in a great loss of revenue for the state. The hedge fund is worth $9 billion and is now located in Florida.

Education

The lawmakers said a lot of work had been done in Hartford to improve education in Connecticut. There were 1,000 new seats created in preschool programs to accommodate high need, low performing communities.

They said intensive supports and interventions have been provided for 25 low performing schools throughout the state; funding for charter schools has been expanded in the districts where it is most needed; and $50 million was added to the Education Cost Sharing grant to Connecticut public schools.

In addition, the tenure policy in schools has been re-evaluated allowing for the dismissal of “ineffective” teachers, regardless of their tenure status.

Executive orders

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s issuance of Executive Orders 9 and 10 stirred up great controversy and opposition within the Connecticut legislature, according to the legislators. The orders create the unionization of child care and personal care assistants that receive state funds and the initial proposals for this legislation originally died in committee.

Another issue the legislature faced this session was the death penalty. Connecticut, like 17 other states, recently abolished the death penalty.

The new law replaces the death penalty with a life sentence in prison without possibility of release, and is “strongly opposed” by the Republicans, who say they will “push to overturn the new law.”

Alcohol reform legislation led to the legality of Sunday sales: Alcohol may now be sold in Connecticut on Sundays from 10 to 5. Weston’s representatives supported this reform legislation to aid small business owners and consumers.

Although medicinal marijuana is now legal in Connecticut, new legislation keeps it under strict regulation. Doctors must certify patients’ medical need (“debilitating diseases” such as cancer, AIDS and Parkinson’s), the drug may only be dispensed by pharmacists with a specific license, and patients and caregivers must be registered with the Department of Consumer Protection.

Storms

In reaction to the two major storms that devastated the state last fall and left hundreds of thousands without power, new legislation has been developed to increase storm response capabilities.

A new bill aimed at mitigating future storm damage will increase the state’s tree trimming program, entertain the possibility of burying power lines during road renovation and establish new performance standards for utilities.

During the update, several residents brought up the fact that the political happenings at the capitol in Hartford were not effectively reaching the public. Weston’s representatives said they will try to encourage closing the gap between local and state news.

They also recommended several news sources that can keep the public informed, such as ctcapitolreport.com or ctnewsjunkie.com.

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