Monday, March 20, 2023



Malloy Rejects Hospital Tax But Signs Most of New CT Budget Into Law

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today used his line-item veto to reject a new taxing arrangement on hospitals, but signed into law the bulk of a new, two-year state budget negotiated without direct input from his administration.

The governor signed a $41.3 billion, biennial plan that closes major projected deficits while boosting taxes close to $500 million per year, cutting municipal aid, higher education and social services, and sweeping tens of millions of dollars annually from energy conservation programs.

“After 123 days without a budget, it is time to sign this bipartisan bill into law and continue the steady and significant progress our state has made over the past several years,” Malloy said. 

“Connecticut’s families and businesses deserve to have a budget in place, one that provides a stable environment to live and work.  While there are certainly many provisions of this budget I find problematic, there’s also a clear recognition of many of the fiscal priorities and concerns I’ve consistently articulated since January.  I appreciate the work of the General Assembly in passing a budget to my desk that I can sign.”

Police Rank and File Reject Pension Contract

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE By a vote of 44 to 5, the Westport police rank and file members have rejected a town-approved pension agreement that reduced benefits for current officers with less than 20 years service, the union president said today. Image
Westport police officers listen to the Oct. 3 Representative Town Meeting (RTM) debate on the police pension agreement. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Cpl. Howard Simpson, who heads Westport Police Local 2080, said he wants to sit down with town officials to rework the agreement, which was approved by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) on Oct. 3.

The RTM approval, by a vote of 17 to 6 with 3 abstentions, followed three hours of debate and impassioned pleas by police to reject the agreement

“The members overwhelmingly rejected it,” Simpson said about the agreement retroactive from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2024.

CT Towns to Feel Credit Crunch Even With a New State Budget

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Despite legislative approval of a bipartisan state budget, a major Wall Street credit rating agency warned today municipalities still will struggle to get affordable credit.

S&P Global Ratings also indicated it would review the state’s faltering bond rating if and when the budget becomes law. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hasn’t said whether he would sign the deal, though it did pass both the House and Senate on Tuesday with veto-proof margins.

“We note that virtually all local governments will see some reductions to state aid, while only a few — typically those with the greatest economic challenges — will see flat year-over-year state aid,” the rating agency wrote in a report.

The budget passed on Tuesday would cut the Education Cost Sharing Grant — the primary state grant that cities and towns receive to help run their schools — by $31.4 million this fiscal year, a 1.6 percent cut. However, next year, that money is almost entirely restored and distributed using an updated formula that more heavily favors the state’s lowest-performing school districts.

Westport Minuteman Ends After Almost 24 Years

By Gordon Joseloff Image
UPDATE Today’s final issue of the Minuteman newspaper. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The weekly Westport Minuteman newspaper died today. It would have had its 24th anniversary on Nov. 23.

The end came almost five months after it was purchased by Hearst Connecticut Media, owner of the Westport News and Fairfield Citizen-News, which also bought its sister newspaper, the Fairfield Minuteman.

Hearst’s holdings include other Connecticut weeklies as well as daily newspapers in Bridgeport, Norwalk, Stamford, Danbury, and New Haven.

There was no farewell in its final issue, delivered free to most Westport addresses.

House Sends Veto-Proof, Bipartisan Budget to Malloy

By Keith M. Phaneuf, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, and Mark Pazniokas

With the flourish of a veto-proof margin, the House of Representatives voted today to give final legislative passage to an overdue, bipartisan budget crafted without the direct involvement of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

After a concise and focused two-hour debate, the House voted 126 to 23 to send Malloy a $41.3 billion two-year spending plan and put Connecticut on the verge of ending a budget impasse that has stretched 118 days into the new fiscal year.

The Senate voted 33-3 just 10 hours earlier to approve the budget, also easily achieving the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a veto. An override requires 24 votes in the Senate and 101 in the House.

[Under the approved budget, Westport state aid will go from $2,303,717 in 2017, to $2,224,193 in 2018 (down $79,524), and $2,149,785 in 2019 (down an additional $74,408).]

Click HERE for more of story

Comings & Goings: Layla’s Falafel Opens Monday Image
Layla’s Falafel, offering authentic Middle Eastern cuisine, opens on Monday at 1535 Post Road East near the intersection of Maple Street North. Owned by Trumbull residents Dino (above) and Layla Sakakini, it is the fifth location for the eatery, including one in Fairfield, two in Stamford and one in Trumbull. It was originally scheduled to open in May but faced delays. (See WestportNow, April 23, 2017) Mainly a takeout business, the hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 8 p.m. on Sunday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

After 117-Day Marathon, Senate Passes Bipartisan Budget

By Keith M. Phaneuf, Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, and Mark Pazniokas

A newly united Senate took a major step early today toward ending Connecticut’s nearly 17-week budget impasse, overwhelmingly adopting a $41.3 billion, two-year plan that closes huge deficits without raising income or sales tax rates, imposes modest cuts on local aid, and provides emergency assistance to keep Hartford out of bankruptcy.

By a veto-proof margin of 33 to 3, the Senate approved the budget after a collegial and self-congratulary three-hour debate that ended with hugs, fist bumps and hand shakes just before 2 a.m. Seventeen of 18 Democrats and 16 of 18 Republicans voted to send the bill to the House, which is scheduled to debate it later today

The surprisingly strong vote, coupled with the expectation of a similarly strong margin in the House, set the stage for a decision by Malloy to accept the compromise or risk a veto override that could color his last year in office.

He declined to speculate Wednesday morning on whether he would sign or veto a budget he had not seen. A copy was not provided to his office until mid-afternoon.

Click HERE for more of story


Comings & Goings: Steinway Piano Closing Image
Steinway & Sons Gallery showroom, 501 Post Road East, will close in December after 15 years in the same location, according to Sarah Fears, business development manager, and will reopen in Greenwich. Fears said the Westport store is the only factory-owned one in the state of 14 “authentic showrooms” in the United States. “Our lease expires at the end of 2017,” she said.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Comings & Goings: Effi’s Salon Opens on Riverside Ave. Image
Effi’s Salon opened today at 484 Riverside Ave., near the Saugatuck Rowing Club. According to owner Effie Andriotis (above),“Ironically I started my hairdresser career at this same address at age 19 when it was the Nick Mancini Salon which closed in 1998. I then opened my own salon at 719 Post Road East, near the intersection of Roseville Road, and operated it for 18 years until this year.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

A Promise of a ‘Historic,’ Bipartisan Budget

By Mark Pazniokas and Keith M. Phaneuf

Legislative leaders say the General Assembly is poised to end Connecticut’s long and bitter budget impasse in dramatic fashion by week’s end, uniting one of the nation’s most closely divided legislatures behind a bipartisan compromise engineered to survive a veto by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“We’ll have the vast majority of our members voting in favor of this historic agreement. Having Democrats and Republicans work together on a budget hasn’t been seen in Connecticut,” House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said tonight after a Democratic caucus. “This has been a very, very impressive process.”

The Senate is expected to open debate on the budget early Wednesday evening, hours after the legislature’s nonpartisan staff delivers a line-by-line budget for the fiscal year that began July 1. The House probably would follow with a vote Thursday, setting the stage for Malloy to sign or veto a budget crafted without his direct involvement.

In separate news conferences today, House Democrats and Republicans broadly sketched the basis of a bipartisan compromise once seen as unthinkable: The University of Connecticut would lose about $65 million in annual funding, more than the $50 million Malloy was ready to accept last month, but far less than the $120 million originally sought by the GOP.