Opening day at the Legislature each year features the “State of the State” address by the Governor.
As I listened to his presentation on February 5th everything sounded rosy. We are said to have turned the corner on many things. Most notably his address included a declaration that we no longer have a fiscal crisis.
And we are said to no longer have a “failure to communicate.” “Silos” within State government now speak to one another. And his commissioners are bringing new ideas.
Overall it seemed that his address was a “pep talk.” There should be no more bad-mouthing of the State of Connecticut. And it appears that there is credible rationale for many of the Governor’s positive thoughts.
The hard news came from the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) prior to his address. The bottom line: No major new ideas are to be funded.
It sounded to me as if the administration is giving high priority to paying down Connecticut’s debt. And hand in hand with that is insistence on building our Rainy Day fund to 15% of the State budget.
As I heard it, someone checked the data and said “wow,” there are going to be a lot of retirees here! So middle-class tax benefits have been and will continue to be increased.
The State Drinking Water Council is expected to be re-invigorated, according to the Governor. Testing for PFAS and buy-back of firefighting foam containing PFAS may be in the cards.
Vaping-related issues are being addressed. There may be an increase in taxes on e-cigarettes.
The Governor will seek to have the State step in to compensate for loss of Federal funds to Planned Parenthood.
Some policy changes the Governor intends to propose that are not fiscal: Erasure of convictions for certain less serious criminal offenses after seven years. But not for those involving domestic violence or sexual assault.
Remember free phone calls for inmates? It is back on the radar.
And then there is pot. Like it or not marijuana is going to be legalized on a multi-state basis. Connecticut wants to stand shoulder to shoulder with neighboring states on this.
Education proposals center on curriculum development.
Free community college for everyone is not to be. Why? The revenue is not there. Proposed now is free community college only for applicants from households at or below median income.
Issues involving cyber security were mentioned, including how same-day voter registration can be accommodated while protecting the security of the voting process.
Toward the end of a presentation by OPM Secretary McCaw she almost shouted out “no cuts to municipal aid.” And renewed “Regional Incentive Grants” are back!
Sounds to me as if the Governor, in making his proposed budget adjustments, has been listening to the Weston Board of Selectmen!
“About Town” is also a television program. It appears on Fridays from 5:30 to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 6:30 to 7 p.m. on Cablevision Channel 88 (Public Access). Or see it at www.aboutweston.com.