Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Statement by President Trump on the shooting in Virginia

The following statement was released by the White House today following the shootings in Virginia
It is shared here unedited. 
THE PRESIDENT:  As you all know, shortly after 7:00 a.m. this morning, a gunman opened fire on members of Congress and their staffs as they were practicing for tomorrow's annual charity baseball game. 
Authorities are continuing to investigate the crime, and the assailant has now died from his injuries.  The FBI is leading the investigation and will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available. 
     Congressman Steve Scalise, a member of House leadership, was shot and badly wounded, and is now in stable condition at the hospital, along with two very courageous Capitol Police officers.  At least two others were also wounded. 
Many lives would have been lost if not for the heroic actions of the two Capitol Police officers who took down the gunman despite sustaining gunshot wounds during a very, very brutal assault. 
Melania and I are grateful for their heroism and praying for the swift recovery of all victims. 
Congressman Scalise is a friend, and a very good friend.  He's a patriot and he's a fighter.  He will recover from this assault.  And, Steve, I want you to know that you have the prayers not only of the entire city behind you, but of an entire nation and, frankly, the entire world.  America is praying for you and America is praying for all of the victims of this terrible shooting.
I spoke with Steve's wife, Jennifer, and I pledged to her our full and absolute support -- anything she needs.  We are with her and with the entire Scalise family.
I have also spoken with Chief Matthew Verderosa -- he's doing a fantastic job -- of the Capitol Police to express our sympathies for his wounded officers and to express my admiration for their courage.  Our brave Capitol Police perform a challenging job with incredible skill, and their sacrifice makes democracy possible.
     We also commend the brave first responders from Alexandria Police, Fire and Rescue who rushed to the scene.  Everyone on that field is a public servant -- our courageous police, our congressional aides who work so tirelessly behind the scenes with enormous devotion, and our dedicated members of Congress who represent our people.
We may have our differences, but we do well, in times like these, to remember that everyone who serves in our nation’s capital is here because, above all, they love our country.
We can all agree that we are blessed to be Americans, that our children deserve to grow up in a nation of safety and peace, and that we are strongest when we are unified and when we work together for the common good.
Please take a moment today to cherish those you love, and always remember those who serve and keep us safe.  God bless them all, God bless you, and God Bless America.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Connecticut Joins the United States Climate Alliance

In a press release, the office of Gov. Malloy announced Connecticut would join the U.S. Climate Alliance.

This is the release, provided unedited here:
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has committed the State of Connecticut to join the United States Climate Alliance – a coalition of U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.  Other participants in the alliance to date include California, Washington state, and New York.
“Connecticut has been a national leader in combatting climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts,” Governor Malloy said.  “In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents.  We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet.  I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet.”
With input from all participants, the United States Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new program to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Read President Trump's statement on Paris Climate Accord

The following, presented unedited here, was released by the White House on the Paris Climate Accord and is posted as a service to readers:
“Our government rushed to join international agreements where the United States pays the costs and bears the burdens while other countries get the benefit and pay nothing.” – President Donald J. Trump
ALREADY THE WORLD’S ENERGY LEADER: The United States had already become the leader in cutting CO2 emissions while still leading in oil & gas production.
·        In the United States, energy related carbon dioxide emissions have significantly declined since before the Paris Climate Accord was negotiated, and will continue to decline as a share of worldwide emissions, particularly when compared to other nations such as China and India.
o   The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) 2017 Annual Energy Outlook reports that, from 2005 to 2016, energy related carbon dioxide emissions fell at an average annual rate of 1.4%.
o   Emissions are projected to continue to fall from 2016 to 2040. 
o   Meanwhile, the EIA reports that emissions in the developing world are expected to double their 2005 levels by 2040.
·        According to recent U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States remained the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas combined.
·        The United States continues to be a world leader in energy, but increased competition from countries like China demonstrates the need for policies that enable America to compete on a global scale.
HARMFUL TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: The Paris Climate Accord could cost the United States economy millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in economic output over the next several decades.
·        According to an analysis by National Economic Research Associates (NERA), meeting President Obama’s commitment under the Paris Climate Accord would cost the United States nearly $3 trillion by 2040.
o   By 2040, the American economy could have 6.5 million fewer industrial sector jobs, including 3.1 million fewer manufacturing jobs.
o   Industries such as cement, iron and steel, coal, natural gas, and petroleum would be forced to cut production under President Obama’s Paris Climate Accord.
SHOULDERING THE BURDEN:  Under the Paris Climate Accord, the United States would carry the burden while other countries would get the benefits.
·        Under the Obama Administration, which signed an agreement without having to deal with the economic repercussions, the United States was committed to reducing CO2 emissions by between 26 and 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
o   Meanwhile China can continue to increase emissions for the next 13 years.
·        The United States already contributed $1 billion to a UN Green Climate Fund. This would increase to $3 billion under pledges made by the previous Administration.
INEFFECTIVE: Even if every nation fully complied with the Paris Climate Accord, it would barely impact the climate.
·        According to researchers from MIT, if every nation that signed the Paris Climate Accord met all of their commitments until the end of the century, the impact on the climate would be negligible.
PROMISE TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: President Trump is fulfilling his promise to the American people to stop international agreements that disadvantage the United States.
·        May 26, 2016, then-candidate Trump:
o   “President Obama entered the United States into the Paris Climate Accords— unilaterally, and without the permission of Congress.”
o   “So foreign bureaucrats are going to be controlling what we are using and what we are doing on our land in our country. No way.”

Fasano: GOP Labor Savings Proposal Would Benefit Municipal, Local Union Employees

This press release, offered unedited here for information sharing purposes, was released today by the Senate Republican leader:
Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to misstatements that have been made by union leaders regarding the revised Senate Republican budget proposal.
“After reading multiple public statements made by union leaders over the last day it is clear that some individuals are trying to mislead the public about the Senate Republican budget proposal. Let’s be clear about what the Senate Republicans have proposed. Our plan does not touch benefits for local nurses, teachers, municipal firefighters, police or other municipal public service workers. In fact, the necessary structural changes to state employee benefits we’ve offered, to align them more closely with what local union employees are currently receiving, would actually be an economic boon to municipal and local union employees. State employees currently receive benefits that far exceed what workers such as nurses, teachers, municipal firefighters, police or other municipal public service workers get in our state. By making state employee benefits more comparable to existing municipal union labor agreements the state would have the proper resources to fully fund municipalities resulting in municipal construction projects, funding for our schools and support for our teachers, and the creation of local jobs so that local union members can find employment.
“Also, and equally important, unlike the labor plan offered by top union leaders and the governor, the Senate Republicans don’t believe those making less should be paying the same amount for benefits as those state employees who have significantly larger salaries. Therefore, our plan focuses on protecting those state workers who make less money by having a sliding scale based on salary for health care premiums which benefits lower paid employees.
“It is total error for anyone to state that the Senate Republican plan hurts teacher benefits.  Unlike the Democrats’ plans that push the costs of teachers’ pensions onto municipalities, our budget protects against this change. In fact, over the next two years, our budget also puts $170 million more into a new state education funding formula - and almost $700 million into education over 10 years so that we can fairly fund schools and support teachers across the state.
“What is abundantly clear is we need to change the direction of our state. We cannot continue down this path. Unnecessarily, the state is faced with cutting social services and underfunding municipalities. Our budget paves a new path to a sustainable future with less debt and more financial stability. That benefits state employees and taxpayers alike. Efforts to deceive and manipulate the very people who have been hurt by the state’s disastrous financial situation help no one. I’m disappointed to see union leaders misrepresent the truth to the rank and file.”

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Senate Republicans offer revised state budget

Senate Republican President Len Fasano
Connecticut Senate Republicans said in a release that the caucus offered "revisions to their two-year, line-by-line state budget proposal with no new taxes that rejects the labor savings deal negotiated by Governor Dannel P. Malloy and state employee union leaders. "
The release is hared here, unedited, as a service to readers:
Instead of relying on the proposed deal with the state employee unions, which would lock the state into specified benefits including wage increases ranging from 9% - 11% over 5 years, the Senate Republicans identified two alternative labor savings plan options to accompany their two-year budget proposal:
        Option A: A savings plan that could be achieved by renegotiating a deal with the labor unions.
        Option B: A savings plan that could be achieved through legislative action alone if the state employee unions do not come back to the negotiation table.
“State employees are hardworking individuals who provide core services to people across our state every day. However, all parties recognize that current state employee benefits are not sustainable,” said Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven). “These benefits far exceed what is received by union employees outside of state government, state employees outside of Connecticut and employees in the private sector. We need to make significant structural changes to benefits in order to protect our state employees from dramatic layoffs and to make sure the pensions and health care benefits the state has promised will be properly funded. Just like we are asking for changes throughout state government, we have to make changes to employee benefits as well. Based on the numbers, the proposed deal made by the governor and state employee unions is not the best deal possible for our state. Therefore our caucus has outlined two different paths we can pursue instead.”
The governor’s proposed labor deal with the state employee unions is estimated to save $1.5 billion over two years, but only $186 million, or 12%, of those savings come from concessions that fall outside of the control of the legislature and that need approval from state employee unions and the governor to pass. By utilizing data from the Office of Policy and Management, the Senate Republican Caucus has calculated that $1.3 billion of the governor’s proposal could be achieved through statutory changes alone without locking the state into the SEBAC contract for another 5 years.
“A labor savings deal that locks our state into these state employee contracts until 2027 and only relies on $186 million in concessions is not a good deal for the state of Connecticut. We would be tying the hands of future legislatures and governors, and putting future funding for budget items such as social services and education in jeopardy in exchange for less than $190 million in labor savings. History has taught us it’s not in the best interest to lock ourselves into a contract for minimal savings,” said Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton).
“Our proposed labor savings plans show that there are other options to achieve the significant structural changes we need to balance our budget, pave a path to a more sustainable future and protect jobs,” said Senator Paul Formica, Co-Chair of the Appropriations Committee. “These plans bring multiple ideas to the table so that we can all begin important conversations together.”
“We also need to look at progressive changes that won’t hurt lower paid employees more than higher paid employees,” Sen. Fasano added. “We are proud to offer ideas to implement significant reform and create a fair system, such as a sliding scale for health care benefits based on an employee’s salary.”
Option A lays out revisions to the deal negotiated by Governor Dannel P. Malloy to save at least an additional $657.4 million in state employee concessions achieved through collective bargaining if state unions are open to negotiations. Paired with statutory changes, this proposal would save at least $2.5 billion over two years and would extend the SEBAC contract in exchange for these significant structural changes and savings.
Option B includes approximately $2.1 billion in labor savings that can be achieved through legislative action alone outside of collective bargaining. Beyond the statutory labor changes, this option also includes approximately $160 million in additional changes to the non-labor portion of the Senate Republican budget released earlier this month to resolve the full deficit.
Either of these two options when implemented would balance the Senate Republican “Confident Connecticut” budget. This budget does the following:
        Does not include new taxes
        Increases Education Cost Sharing funding by $170 million in the first two years and implements a new funding formula
        Protects all towns and cities from cuts to statutory municipal grants in year one, either holding municipalities harmless or increasing funds
        Maintains tax exempt status for hospitals to protect them from a new local hospital tax
        Preserves core government services by restoring funding for social services and programs that benefit people most in need
        Prioritizes transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls
        Lowers taxes for retirees and helps seniors age in place
        Enhances funding for state parks and tourism
        Streamlines government
        Provides for structural changes
More details about the proposed labor savings options available in the attached presentation.
Full details on the complete Senate Republican “Confident Connecticut” fiscal years 2018/2019 budget proposal available on

Gov. Malloy's prepared remarks on Aetna

According to a release: Governor Dannel P. Malloy delivered the following prepared remarks on Aetna during a press conference; (shared unedited here)
Thank you for coming.  I understand that there has been a great deal of discussion over the past 24 hours about Aetna.  I’ve invited you here today to share my administration’s perspective on this important topic.
Let me begin by saying this: Aetna is an excellent employer and an important corporate citizen.  They have been a core part of our state and specifically of Hartford since 1853.  Connecticut should and does greatly value our relationship with this company, and with the thousands of people they employ here.
I deeply and truly believe that the City of Hartford and the greater Hartford region provides a strong foundation for any company in the insurance sector, large or small.  From a very deep bench of top insurance talent, to a knowledgeable and well-regarded state insurance department, to incredible school systems and a high quality of life for employees, Connecticut is the insurance capitol of the world for good reason.
And, as insurers are evolving its strategy to focus more on consumer-based products and services, Hartford is evolving too – bringing tech, marketing, and entrepreneurial talent right to its downtown.
Now, in terms of more recent conversations taking place about Aetna’s future, it would be wrong of me to speak for them in terms of where they are in any decision-making process.  Those are questions you have to ask them directly.  What I can do is speak for my administration’s role as a partner to Aetna and their employees, and share with you some of the efforts we’ve made – and continue to make – in order to ensure they remain a major Connecticut employer.
To begin, we have had many discussions with them over months – and in fact years – about their long-term plans and the prospect of changes, specifically at the executive level.
While we have not been notified by the company of their intention to change their footprint in Connecticut, it is my personal belief that some amount of change is coming, and that it will likely include a change in their headquarter designation, along with some number of executive positions.
I believe the vast majority of the 5,800 jobs in Connecticut will stay here, and that they could continue to choose Connecticut as their regulator.  This could be akin to another large Hartford insurer who is not headquartered in Connecticut, but chooses to have a substantial base here and operate as a Connecticut regulated insurer because of the benefits and predictability that choice provides them.
Here’s why I believe these things.  My administration has met and spoken with senior Aetna leadership multiple times in recent months.  In addition to repeatedly making clear how much the company means to Connecticut, we’ve put formal offers in front of them.
Most significantly, we have offered direct incentives for them to stay, up to and including matching anything put on the table from a competing state in order to keep Aetna’s headquarters and jobs here in Connecticut.  We’ve also included specific proposals that would, among other things, strengthen the City of Hartford, bolster our workforce development around Aetna’s needs, improve transportation in the region in which they operate, and make our state an even better and more responsive marketplace for them and other insurers.
To date, while we have continued to have conversations, we have not been taken up on these offers.  While I don’t have any indication that they have come to a decision relative to other state or city offers, I believe their lack of a direct response speaks volumes about their intentions, at least when it comes to their headquarters.
It is my own opinion that this has more to do with their desire to have executive leadership operate in a larger, more vibrant urban center than Connecticut can currently offer.  We all know that employers – especially large employers – are attracted to city centers.  We know that now more than ever, we are in competition across all industries – not just with Massachusetts or New York state, but more specifically with Boston and New York City.
It’s why my budget proposal this year is so focused on not just protecting our cities, but in growing them.  In making them into even more dynamic and exciting places to work and to live.  In following through on the investments that are now transforming Hartford with 1000 new apartments, university campuses downtown and increasing occupancy of our capitals office space.
And when it comes to the insurance sector, it’s why this session I’ve proposed changes that would reduce their premium tax, and why I’ve proposed legislation to provide for the timely review of new insurance mandates.
Let’s be clear: Hartford is not ever going to be New York or Boston.  And that’s fine.  Because New York or Boston are not ever going to be Hartford, not when it comes to the history and unique advantages we offer the insurance industry and many other companies that call Hartford home.  Not when it comes to the unmatched talent we offer these employers, and not when it comes to our responsive and supportive regulatory environment.
It is still my hope that Aetna makes the decision to keep their headquarters here.  But for me, this is now a conversation about the thousands of employees they have in our state.  Keeping those employees in Connecticut is far more important than where Aetna plants its corporate flag.
Finally, I will say that I hope any decision by the company – no matter what it is – is made soon.  For the sake of their employees and the City of Hartford, we should not prolong this conversation any longer than we need to.
The state’s offers are on the table. Those offers stand. We await a response.