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.

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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.

Sunshine On State Budget: Lembo Launches Open Connecticut

Posted in Comptroller, state budget, state government by nbpoliticus on January 14, 2013

Score one for State Comptroller Kevin Lembo on the government and transparency front to start 2013. .

Lembo has launched a new website for the public to get an unabridged and politically neutral one-stop source for where state government spends its money, gets its income and borrows. If there are inefficiencies or redundancies to root out as CT faces billion dollar budget deficits this is the place to find it. “Sunshine,” the Justice Louis Brandeis famously said, “is the best disinfectant.”

Open Connecticut is more comprehensive than the website served up by the Yankee Institute — a right wing think tank — that paints state employees with a broad brush whether they are earning their keep or notand uses data to tear down government  

According to Lembo’s office Open Connecticut — www.osc.ct.gov/openct —centralizes state financial data and simplifies access to important information about the state budget and its financial future.


Here’s more from the Comptroller’s Office:

“It’s your money, and you have a right to know,” Lembo said. ‘That’s the simple message behind Open Connecticut. ‘Pockets of state financial information have long been available, but scattered across state agencies. Those who actually have the time to locate information often discover the next difficult step – understanding the information. ‘Through Open Connecticut we want to accomplish at least two things – we want to end the scavenger hunt for taxpayers by creating a centralized warehouse for financial information, and we want to help explain and break down the state’s financial processes as simply as possible. ‘We want to help answer basic questions that the public may have – and deserves to know – about state government. For example, what exactly is in the state budget? Where did our deficits or surpluses come from? How much did we spend on a particular vendor or program? And what should we expect in future years?” Open Connecticut is currently organized into seven sections: STATE BUDGET: Provides access to the state budgets for current and previous years, annual end-of-year financial reports, deficit mitigation plans and results-based accountability (RBA) reports that serve as report cards on how state money was spent on certain projects. STATE INCOME: Features monthly reports by the Department of Revenue Services on the amount of state revenue received, as well as reports on income tax collected by bracket and by town. STATE BORROWING:  Provides access to the state’s Bond Allocation Database, which contains information about projects approved by the State Bond Commission. This section also features background about the State Bond Commission, its members and how the bond authorization and allocation process works.  FUTURE COST OBLIGATIONS:  Provides background and links to actuarial reports on the state’s various retirement systems and retiree health care (known as the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) report). FOLLOW THE MONEY:  Features links to transparency.ct.gov, an existing searchable website maintained by the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) that already provides information (from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC)) about employee salaries, vendor payments, retiree pensions and other detailed information about state spending. FINANCIAL FORECAST:  Includes links to monthly independent financial forecast reports by the OSC, OFA and Office of Policy and Management, as well as links to fiscal accountability reports and consensus revenue projections.  TAX BREAKS & EXEMPTIONS: Provides links to reports by OFA and Department of Economic and Community Development on the cost of tax expenditures and evaluations on certain tax credit and abatement programs. Open Connecticut also features brief tutorials on issues such as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), the state spending cap and consensus revenue. “This site is by no means a finished product – but a starting point towards greater transparency and connectivity between the public and state government,” Lembo said. “My goal is to see this site evolve and expand to include more information as it becomes available. I encourage state residents to use the site, to better understand their government – and to let us know if they have ideas to improve the site going forward.” Lembo, as state comptroller, is the state’s chief fiscal guardian. In that capacity he monitors state finances and issues monthly and annual financial reports. Elected in 2010, Lembo previously served as the state’s Health Care advocate..

 

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

Remembering Rev. King and the Labor Movement – Again

Posted in civil rights, labor, state government by nbpoliticus on April 1, 2011

Ultra-conservative radio host Dan Lovallo was distorting the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. the other day.  He joined a caller in bashing labor unions by objecting to unions’ honoring and remembering King for his strong support of organized labor generally and public employee unions specifically.  It’s all part of Lovallo’s and his drive-time competition’s (Former Public Employee John Rowland)  steady trash talk against many who work in the public sector.  Lovallo’s distortions aside, the anniversary of Rev. King’s assassination on April 4th is a sad and irrefutable reminder that King gave his life for both civil and economic rights, especially the right of public employees to bargain collectively. In this season of attacks against labor rights in the public sector Rev. King should be remembered for his close allegiance with labor. It’s something if you are of a certain age you don’t forget:

04 APRIL 2007

39 Years Ago Today

I remember exactly where I was on April 4, 1968. Thirty nine years ago today the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. 

That week day, like many others in my senior year in high school, I drove to Bradlee’s Department store on the Lynnway in Lynn, Massachusetts to punch in for the evening shift earning some money before entering Boston University in the fall. 

The news spread quickly that Thursday evening that King was dead. It didn’t take long to realize that my shift as a retail clerk would be different from all the others. The store quickly emptied out. Not a customer in sight all night. No need for Mr. Silverman, the shaken and somber store manager, to send me out on outside carriage control. The bullets in Memphis were enough to bring a normal business day to a halt in Lynn and most of the nation. Just five short years before I had come home from junior high on a late summer day to watch King deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech – an event that would inspire so many of us to become active in politics and protest. 

There are many good remembrances of what King said and stood for on his national holiday In January every year, but not so much is being said on this anniversary of the day he died. It’s worth remembering on April 4th and throughout the year why King was in Memphis on a day I will never forget. 

By 1968, Rev. King was widening the concerns of his movement. In Where Do We Go From Here? King opposed a Vietnam policy that had begun to break the nation further apart. The lunchroom sit-ins and battles over accommodations and voting rights were giving way to a broader agenda. He was planning a new march on Washington – “the Poor People’s Campaign” — when he decided to take up the cause of 1,300 Black sanitation workers in Memphis, a city of southern segregation, where the white power structure opposed the right to unionize and the Mayor vowed never to bargain in good faith in a way that would give the sanitation workers their dignity. The strike and a citywide economic boycott were a cause King knew he could not ignore.

King’s prophetic “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech on the eve of the assassination is his best known from Memphis. But two weeks earlier, on March 18th, King galvanized support for strikers by saying: “So often we overlook the worth and significance of those who are not in professional jobs, or those who are not in the so-called big jobs…..One day our society will come to respect the sanitation worker if it is to survive.” Following King’s assassination, the Memphis power structure gave up its intransigence – recognizing the union, awarding pay raises and instituting merit promotions. 

King’s campaign for striking sanitation workers reaffirmed his greatness at the hour of his death and resonates today in the cause of social and economic justice. That is worth remembering most from the day he died.

from  http://nbpoliticus.blogspot.com/2007/04/39-years-ago-today.html

Party For State Rep. Sanchez: Affirming the American Dream in New Britain

Posted in civil rights, state government by nbpoliticus on March 20, 2011
Ward 3 Ald. Shirley Black and
Rep. Bobby Sanchez
At Fiesta Latina


Family, friends and colleagues were on hand at the Puerto Rican Society Friday March 18th to celebrate the election of Bobby Sanchez as the state representative from the 25th Assembly District in New Britain.   

Sanchez, the Democratic Town Committee Vice Chair and Board of Education member, was elected in the February 22nd special election to the state assembly seat . He succeeded John Geragosian, one  of the new state Auditors of Public Accounts.

Like many a gathering at the Puerto Rican Society the “Fiesta Latina” had plenty of home-made dishes of chicken, pork, rice and beans. Sanchez, a Washington Street resident and human services professional,  welcomed attendees many of whom have worked with Sanchez through the years to register voters and promote turnouts on election days.  Ward 5 Ald.  Roy Centeno and DTC member Francisco Cuin introduced other elected officials during a brief program , including  State Rep. Tim O’Brien, Ward 3 Ald. Shirley Black and BOE President Sharon Beloin-Saavedra.  

Less than a month in state office, Sanchez says he’s absorbed in reading the many bills he’ll vote on. He faces a long week of  sessions on the finance, revenue and bonding committee as lawmakers work on a state budget of “shared sacrifice.”  His knowledge and career work in Head Start and social service programs will serve him well on the Education Committee, his other major assignment as a freshman lawmaker.

Sanchez, a New Britain native, reminded us that he was a child of the sixties. His immigrant parents enrolled him in the city’s first Head Start classroom at Saint Mary’s Church– the early childhood program that was part of the wave of social and civil rights laws enacted and for which people gave their lives to bring about just a generation ago.  

The significance of the celebration for Sanchez was not lost on anyone in attendance. Sanchez’ election to state office is a milestone for the Latino community whose numbers, according to the 2010 census, rise rapidly in city and suburb alike in Connecticut.  Pete Rosa came by to wish Sanchez well. Rosa, a former BOE member and New Britain Alderman, was New Britain’s first citizen of Puerto Rican background to run and win elective office. It was not so long ago that Rosa, for his willingness to run and hold office, endured phone threats from anonymous voices fixated on ethnic division and hate in the city.  

That Sanchez has been elected a state representative is a solid sign of progress in New Britain. It says that people wanting to be part of politics and government will have opportunities regardless of  ethnic background or economic standing. It says that New Britain is “a city for all people”.

Pete Hamill, the author and journalist, would agree. He once remembered looking out his “tenement window” in Brooklyn in his youth and seeing  the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline.  

“They weren’t symbols of New York; they stood for America itself……Those symbols, made visible and concrete by the efforts of human beings, were not lies. The first said that here, in these United States, men and women were free of the ancient curses of class, iron tradition, religious division. An Irish Catholic from bigoted Belfast, a Jew from some forlorn and isolated Russian shtetl, an Italian from the eroded wastes of the Mezzogiorno: all were free. Each was the political equal of the richest man in the country, able to cast a vote in free elections, possessed of rights guaranteed on paper in the Constitution of the United States. Here, no man or woman would ever genuflect before a king. Here, no child would shiver in fear during the terrors of a pogrom. Here, no feudal don would exercise arbitrary powers of life and death. Not here. Not ever. This was America. Here you could imagine a glorious future. Here, dreams really did come true.  


[From “America: The Place Where Dreams Still Come True” by Pete Hamill]

DeFronzo’s Assignment: An Agency Where "There Is Something For Everybody"

Posted in DeFronzo, state government, state marshals by nbpoliticus on December 26, 2010

State Senator Don DeFronzo, an early supporter of Dan Malloy in the 2010 gubernatorial race, is heading for the state Department of Administrative Services (DAS). The agency DeFronzo will lead is generally not in the headlines but has evolved into an omnibus branch of the executive that is a key to how state government runs itself and does business with others.

Here is how the agency introduces itself:

DAS has statutory responsibilities and administrative authority in the areas of personnel recruitment, selection and workforce planning; fleet operations; state workers’ compensation administration; procurement of goods and services; collection of monies due the state; surplus property distribution; contractor prequalification and supplier diversity; consolidated human resources, payroll, fiscal and equal employment opportunity services for small agencies; as well as printing, mail and courier services for state government. 

In addition, we have proudly added to our agency the Claims Commission, the State Marshal Commission, the State Property Review Board, and the Insurance and Risk Management Board.  DAS is also a partner agency for Core-CT which is Connecticut state government’s integrated financial, human resources and payroll system.  The services we provide cross state agencies, municipalities, vendors, colleges and universities, non-profit organizations and the public at large.  There is something here for everybody.

As if that isn’t enough there are strong indications that Governor-elect Malloy may try to extend DAS’ responsibilities and give DeFronzo an even bigger portfolio to manage in the Departments of Information Technology (DOIT) and  Public Works (DPW).  Such a consolidation would be up to legislative approval in the General Assembly.

At issue is whether a bigger DAS would bring the efficiencies and savings sought by the new administration as it seeks to spend less and deliver services.

GOP "Common Sense" Plan: Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Republican

Posted in state budget, state government by nbpoliticus on October 9, 2010

A key phrase from a new state government agenda from Republicans is: “Borrow only what you can afford to pay back”. Minority Leader Larry Cafero and the crafters of this “common sense” plan conveniently forget to mention that a Republican has held the Governor’s office for 20 years. The Governor has sole and exclusive control over state borrowing. Blaming the Democratic majority for all state budget problems strains credulity.  The executive branch is a co-equal and some would argue more powerful branch when it comes to the public purse.


There is nary a word about changing the tax structure to ease the burden on the property tax to pay for education. That real reform would offend corporate special interests and the folks who have the long driveways in the tony towns of the Nutmeg state who don’t want the tax burden made fairer. Working and middle class taxpaying families get no comfort or relief from the drivel in this platform.  Hypocrisy thy name is Republican.


Take a look yourself at www.commonsensecommitment.com

May Day: Lamont-Glassman Ticket Forming In New Britain Monday, May 3rd

Posted in 2010 Election, state government by nbpoliticus on May 1, 2010

Gubernatorial hopefuls Ned Lamont and Mary Glassman are joining forces ahead of the May 21-22 Democratic convention, forming a ticket they hope will stem the growing strength of former Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy in delegates and Malloy’s success in meeting the threshold to qualify for funds under the Citizen’s Election Program.

Courant Columnist Kevin Rennie confirmed the speculation in his Daily Ructions blog on Saturday. By Saturday afternoon,  a Lamont robo call was inviting delegates — at least in New Britain — to a Monday morning announcement at the Trinity-On-Main Arts Center to make the marriage official: Lamont for Governor and Glassman for Lt. Governor.  The New Britain venue for this merger points to Glassman’s roots in the Hardware City and the strong progressive support Lamont received from New Britain Democrats in his 2006 challenge of Joe Lieberman.  New Britain delegates, however, are said to heavily favor Malloy for Governor this time as strongly as they endorsed John DeStefano in 2006.

The bold move by Lamont and Glassman camps appears to confirm or concede that Malloy is in the driver’s seat in terms of securing a first-ballot endorsement despite hints that Lamont will get big blocks of delegates from the Democratic machines in New Haven and Bridgeport via hard ball politics on the part of DTC leaders.

The merger of Lamont and Glassman becomes all the more interesting because it appears to pre-empt the candidacies of other aspirants for Lt. Governor, including Health Advocate Kevin Lembo and the Johnny (Rowland) come lately move by Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura to put in a claim for the number two spot.

Lembo, speaking to the New Britain Democratic Town Committee last Thursday, left town securing both contributions and some delegate support for his Lt. Governor bid, impressing the committee with his approach to government reform and expertise on the health care issue.

A Lamont and Glassman alliance pre-empts any horse trading that could have been expected among Malloy, Lamont and Glassman nearer to convention time. It disses the candidacy of Lembo who will get a serious hearing from progressive Democrats, including those who have a vote at the state convention.  The move probably took Jarjura by surprise too as he would need a lot of brokering and deal making at the convention to have a spot on the ticket. 

The well-financed Lamont dual strategy is now set: solidify things for the August 10th primary with an early ticket to present to voters; do better than expected at the convention by acquiring a more respectable showing of delegates than would be the case if he were vying with both Glassman and Malloy.