Yankee Institute Blog

Is Spectra Energy New England’s last chance for lower energy prices?

Plans to bring more natural gas to New England to lower the region’s high energy prices face trouble. Two separate pipeline plans would have brought more natural gas, a relatively clean and low-cost fuel, to the region while investing more than $4 billion in the projects, but one developer dropped its plan last week.

Kinder Morgan pulled the plug on its planned regional pipeline that would have invested $3.3 billion in the region. Company officials said in announcing the change in plans that the company could not find the support and consumers necessary to make the investment.

Retirement mandate could hurt Connecticut’s workers, financial sector

A proposal to create a government-run retirement plan for private employees would ultimately hurt the very people it aims to help, according to testimony from Kim Chamberlain of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association before the Labor and Public Employees Committee.

The American Retirement Association, which supports a public retirement system, testified they could not support this legislation “in its current form.” The group labeled the proposed bill “confusing and costly.”

Connecticut economic competitiveness study reveals more bad news

Connecticut is losing better-paying jobs and replacing them with low-paying jobs, according to a study released by the Commission on Economic Competitiveness.

The commission had previously attempted to keep the document secret by discussing it in a closed-door executive session, prompting a Yankee Institute complaint to the Freedom of Information Commission.

Connecticut residents work longest to pay taxes

Last year Connecticut taxpayers worked until May 15 to pay all of their tax bills, tied with New Jersey. This year we fell behind New Jersey by nine days with our Tax Freedom Day last in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.

Now we work until May 21 to pay all of our tax bills, meaning they consume more than a third of our collective income. It’s troubling that Connecticut residents have to work until May to pay for all layers of government: federal, state and local. But even more concerning is that moving to New Jersey could mean an extra week of take-home pay for many Connecticut residents.

Former UConn Health Center doctor had troubling history

A doctor employed at the University of Connecticut Health Center’s prison health service has left the health organization following a reprimand by the medical examining board. Dr. James O’Halloran worked at UConn for 15 years, but before even taking his state job he had a troubled record.

In January, the medical examining board placed O’Halloran on probation for five years for over-prescribing controlled substances and having an affair with a female employee in his private practice.

O’Halloran worked as physician for the Correctional Managed Health Care system that provides medical care to prisoners across the state. He was on leave pending the board’s decision. The board ordered that he undergo therapy and random drug testing and barred him from meeting with patients in private.

U.S. Supreme Court ruling contradicts state protections for retiree benefits

Connecticut lawmakers face high legal hurdles if they want to reform health benefits for retired state workers, according to a new study from the Manhattan Institute.

A 2002 Connecticut Supreme Court decision set the precedent, ruling that retiree health benefits could not be changed when a collective bargaining contract ends. However, this precedent contradicts a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Union leader calls spending cap a ‘red herring’

During yesterday’s public hearing on Connecticut’s constitutional spending cap – the cap that was supposed to keep a lid on state spending – AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier appeared to be angling for some uncivil discourse as she launched into a litany of barbs directed at Yankee’s president, Carol Platt Liebau.

First, Pelletier called the spending cap, a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by a majority of the state’s voters in 1992, a “red herring,” intended to divert taxpayers’ attention from the implementation of an income tax.

State employees spending more than half the year on union leave

Several state union representatives spent more than half of the year working for their unions while still getting paid by the state, driving up overtime costs and putting an extra burden on the state budget.

The year of 2015 contained 261 working days but Ronald J. McLellan, president of the Connecticut Employees Union Independent SEIU local 511, spent 201 of those days on union leave. He earned $111,000 in pay and fringe benefits from the state while working for the union, and continued to keep his title of lead power plant operator at Central Connecticut State University.

The Painful Process of Layoffs Begins

The sad, painful process of laying off thousands of state workers began yesterday, as a result of state tax revenues coming in “lower than expected.”

Amid the human cost — both to those who will be losing jobs, and those depending on the services that some of these laid-off state employees provide — there was one particularly galling note. In every news account, state employee union leaders denounced the layoffs in quotes bristling with righteous indignation.

Public Hearing on Constitutional Spending Cap

In 1992, an overwhelming majority of voters approved a constitutional amendment that enshrined a spending cap in the state’s constitution. The cap was part of the deal lawmakers made with state residents with they implemented an income tax.

But – after 24 years – the spending cap still has not been fully implemented. This is because lawmakers have failed to do their due diligence and define key terms in the spending cap definition.

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