NB Politicus

Rep. Sanchez Makes “Respect” for Early Childhood Educators A Priority As New Chair of Education Committee

Posted in Legislature, public education, state aid, state government by nbpoliticus on January 20, 2019

By John McNamara

State Rep. Robert “Bobby” Sanchez (D-25) is the new House Chair of the Legislature’s Education Committee who brings a strong background in early childhood education to his leadership post in the General Assembly this year.

Sanchez, a former New Britain Board of Education member elected to the House in a 2011 special election, shared his priorities at a League of Women Voters legislative breakfast January 19th at New Britain Public Library.

“Teachers in early childhood education are not respected,” said Sanchez, noting that most early childhood professionals entrusted with the care and development of pre-schoolers are not fairly compensated.  In Connecticut with its high cost of living, child care staff fare much better than the national average of $29,000 ($14 per hour), earning upto $40,150 ($19.30).  Advocates, however, say classroom teachers and aides not covered by union contracts can fall below the average.  On top of pay inequity, Sanchez also points to the requirement that all early child educators will need to hold bachelor’s degrees within a few years to meet accreditation standards. Getting those credentials means education expenses to make the grade as early childhood professionals.

Sanchez, a longtime case manager of early care and education and coordinator of the Fatherhood Initiative at New Britain’s Human Resource Agency,  knows the pay struggles of the people he works with every day.  Rep. Sanchez’ early childhood roots  go back deeper than you may know. “Bobby” is the moniker he uses on election ballots and with friends  — a name he probably latched on to when a teacher called him that at a Head Start classroom in New Britain when he was four years old. It may be that Sanchez is the first Education Chair who’s an alumnus of one of the Great Society’s most enduring programs that launched the movement for quality early childhood education for low-income children in the 1960s.


State Rep. Bobby Sanchez LWV Legislative Breakfast  (photo courtesy of Frank Gerratana)

Sanchez’ views are in sync with the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance and its Executive Director, New Britain BOE Member Merrill Gay. “Early childhood teachers are among the lowest paid profession in the state,” according to the Alliance in advocating for supporting the child care work force last year.  “Early childhood teachers often rely on Care4Kids, HUSKY, SNAP and fuel assistance to make ends meet.”

To address the issue, the Alliance and legislative allies such as Sanchez are likely to push for “an increase in the full-day, full-year rate to $10,000 per child for School Readiness and state funded Child Development Centers indexed to any increase in the minimum wage, a higher infant toddler rate in recognition of the much lower staff to child ratio, delaying the B.A. degree deadline, and providing a rate bonus to programs that reach the staff qualification goal so they can retain the staff.”

The Education Committee will be addressing a score of major issues in the 2019 session, including school safety, curriculum, the education cost sharing (ECS) formula for school districts and child care subsidies that can nudge the pay for early childhood teachers up a notch.

It may be a tall order to secure adequate school aid and child care subsidies with state government saddled with built-in deficits and the pent up needs of other key services in the state budget this year  But Sanchez and his allies in education are prepared to make the case to Governor Lamont and the General Assembly that better pay for those who care for the very young are smart investments for the state’s future.

24th House District Special Election: Sharon, Rick and Mike Vie For the 24th

Posted in Legislature, state government by nbpoliticus on November 25, 2011
24th State Rep Nominating Convention Tuesday, 11/29 In Newington
The convention to nominate a Democratic candidate for the 24th House District seat vacated by Mayor O’Brien will be held Tuesday, November 29th at 7 p.m. at Newington Town Hall Council Chambers, 131 Cedar Street.
Three candidates with considerable public service and legislative experience have emerged to replace O’Brien: BOE President Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, Former Ward 1 Alderman Rick Lopes and Common Council President Mike Trueworthy.  They are seeking support from 13 delegates chosen last year for Rep. O’Brien’s re-nomination.  The 24th District lies in New Britain and Newington — a multi-town district that requires a delegate convention instead of a nomination through the Town Committee.  In New Britain the district comprises the Vance, NB High School, Roosevelt and Gaffney school polling places.
At a New Britain Democratic Town Committee meeting November 17th involving New Britain and Newington DTC members and delegates, Beloin-Saavedra, Lopes and Trueworthy all pledged to abide by the result of the convention and unify for a special election that is expected to be held January 10th.
The candidate elected in January will served in the short session of the Legislature that begins in February and will almost immediately roll into the endorsement for a new term with Town Committees’ selection of delegates in March.  New political boundary lines will also be established by then as the result of the 2010 Census and the work of the Redistricting Commission that has not completed its work. All of the announced candidates are expected to remain in the 24th District after the district lines are re-drawn.
from New Britain Democrats.  11/25/11 post  http://t.co/PFLkH1XM

Luddites May Need To Unite To Save Newspaper Legal Notices For Now

Posted in journalism, Legislature by nbpoliticus on February 5, 2010

The economic plight of newspapers in the internet age will be up for debate in the 2010 session of the Connecticut General Assembly and intertwined with arguments about the public’s right to know.

Gov. Rell has called for ending the requirement that governments publish certain legal notices in newspapers, according to the New Britain Herald in a Feb. 5th story

For many citizens posting public notices and other information on the public business is sufficient on a town’s web site. It meets the public’s right to know more effectively and it saves publication costs at a time when government is looking to scrimp and save.

The newspaper industry, however, is mounting a counter argument that many among us are essentially Luddites when it comes to where we get information. A substantial portion of the citizenry, the industry says, relies on public notices in a linear way or we won’t get it at all.  That is a strong argument in New Britain where a good portion of the reading public is older and accustomed to newsprint over using  the mouse to click on http://www.new-britain.net/

It seems the intent of public notice laws (and publication requirements) are to make information as accessible to the widest possible audience members who need to hear it. In that sense, it may not be enough to simply post on a city or town website.  The argument for publication in a general circulation publication is that the wide audience will know it.  It would seem a legal notice posted in an online publication would have the same weight as the printed page but at rates that are probably lower than conventional display ads. What should be determine is the real dollar savings of cutting out print ads versus the need for a greater portion of the public to be informed.  One possible compromise to the legislation — if it is not already there — would be to make the policy a local option law for each city and town to decide on its own.

The issue of printed legal notices is akin to newspaper classifieds which were once a cash cow for newspapers.  The internet is simply an easier way for renting, selling and all kinds of individual transactions that makes classifieds in newspapers dinosaurs. The newspaper business simply needs to come up with an economic model where more revenue comes out of information technology instead of the presses.

Having said all that here’s a Luddite vote to keep printing those notices for now but not much longer.

New Year Finally Brings Dramatic Change To Financing of Campaigns

Posted in Campaign Finance, Legislature by nbpoliticus on December 28, 2007

A system of public financing of political campaigns will bring dramatic change to many state House and Senate races in 2008. While the full impact will not be felt until 2010 when races for Governor and statewide offices will occur, the law’s intent is to begin to restrict the corrosive influence of money in politics that reached its nadir during the Rowland years.

Without John Rowland’s violations of the public trust coming to light, the land of steady habits might still be stuck with a government increasingly influenced by excessive political money and corporate-funded special interests.

It is worth noting (with no small amount of irony) that in 2000 Connecticut’s Democratic-controlled General Assembly approved a Clean Elections law modeled after Maine’s law that was adopted by referendum in 1996. Governor Rowland, unbowed by the imprisonment of his State Treasurer, Paul Silvester, for graft in the handling of state pension funds, vetoed a Connecticut clean election law. Had it been adopted the reform might have spared Rowland himself from jail time.

“It is an exciting time for democracy in Connecticut,” says State Rep. Tim O’Brien (D-24) who served on the GAE Committee that helped craft legislation designed to diminish the influence of lobbyist money and that includes an outright contribution ban on contractors who do business with the state.

“For generations, we have dreamed of an open election system in which people’s voices matter more than special interest money. Now, it is a reality,” declares O’Brien in launching his 2008 campaign for the state House that will rely on grassroots contributions. To voluntarily opt in to the “Citizen’s Election Program” state House candidates will be required to obtain individual contributions in their communities. A state representative must obtain 150 donations in his or her community; a state senator must obtain 300 donations, most of which will be small-scale contributions of no more than $100. Candidates who opt not to participate will be required to file and disclose campaign finance information.

The state Elections Enforcement Commission, which is administering the Citizen’s Election Program, has set forth basic goals:
(1) to allow candidates to compete without reliance on special interest money; (2) to curtail excessive spending and create a more level playing field among candidates; (3) to give candidates without access to sources of wealth a meaningful opportunity to seek elective office, and;(4) to provide the public with meaningful and timely disclosure of campaign finances.

Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election program, adopted in the wake of the Rowland scandals, is modeled after Maine’s Clean Elections law. The Maine law now involves 80% of legislative candidates from all political persuasions. It has won praise for reducing excessive spending and, according to a recent study by the Maine ethics commission, allowed candidates to devote more time talking issues and getting feedback from voters.

The high stakes test for Connecticut’s citizen-funded election program won’t come until gubernatorial and statewide races in 2010. There may also be a need to adjust the law to empower Town Committees and encourage grassroots financing in the new system. And no one should assume that the Clean Elections Program is all that will be needed to enforce strong ethics in government. What is clear, however, is that Connecticut lawmakers, pushed by reformers such as Rep. O’Brien, had to strike a blow against corruption in the wake of John Rowland’s exit and indiscretions.

Opponents of public financing had always used the argument that taxpayer money should not finance political campaigns. But that argument finally fell to the side when the question was asked: how much more will taxpayers pay for abuses of the public trust made possible by campaigns funded entirely by private interests?

“This is an important moment in history, and I would like to ask you to be a part of reclaiming our democracy,” says Rep. O’Brien in making his campaign part of a citizen-based election system.

In the long term, proponents of the law such as O’Brien and New Britain’s Democratic lawmakers view the new campaign system as a catalyst to enacting major reforms. Progress on key consumer issues such as a more equitable tax system, universal health care and controlling energy and utility costs have long been thwarted by powerful corporate lobbyists whose influence have now been diminished in the 2008 election cycle.

Thanks John Rowland. We could not have done it without you.