Caruso’s High (Tax) Note

So what’s your take on Governor Rell’s budget impact on the state’s largest city? All things considered, she presents a bunch of opportunities for Bridgeport.

State Rep. Chris Caruso, senior member of the city’s legislative delegation, has joined the knee-jerk myopic jackals’ chorus of soaking the rich. How visionary. Caruso wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest of Connecticut citizens to offset Rell’s cuts to bloated departments. The Great Caruso’s squint is as myopic as his mayoral pledge: it’s corruption and nothing else matters.

Let’s see now, the governor’s proposed budget preserves the educational cost-sharing formula for Bridgeport, suspends binding arbitration that has killed the city for decades, dissolves in-house school suspensions that cost more money, does away with unfunded mandates, promotes additional bucks for regional cost-sharing initiatives, pledges money for seasonal beach and parks jobs that benefits city residents.

All of the above lifts Caruso’s constituency, but he’d rather squeeze the groins of the wealthiest citizens, raise additional business taxes, drive more businesses out of the state further eroding the city’s taxable property, simply because it’s the lazy thing to say.

What happened to the independent-minded Great Caruso? He spews the same spit as majority Democrats. I want to hear from all the Caruso supporters today.

Blue Donkey, you still out there?

Glad They’re Not After Me

Hey, what was all that commotion in beautiful downtown Bridgeport Wednesday morning: streets closed, guns poised, search warrants executed, arrests made? I had to take a different route dropping my stepdaughter Kaitlin off at Housatonic Community College. I call it Lennie’s Limo Service, poor kid broke her ankle on the ice. (No, I did not push her.)

All I know is, I’m glad the feds aren’t after me anymore. News release from Acting U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy:


Nora R. Dannehy, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Kimberly K. Mertz, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that a federal grand jury sitting in New Haven has returned two Indictments charging several individuals from the greater Bridgeport area with participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine and a conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine. Today, 34 individuals charged in the Indictments were arrested. The Indictments remain sealed pending the arrest of additional defendants.

The Indictments stem from “Operation G-Force,” a joint law enforcement investigation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force. The year-long investigation included the use of court-authorized wiretaps, controlled purchases of cocaine, crack and heroin, and physical surveillance.

One Indictment charges a conspiracy to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine throughout Bridgeport and Fairfield County between January 2005 and January 2009. Earlier today, the following individuals charged in the Indictment were arrested by agents and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force:

GEORGE SANCHEZ, a.k.a. “Georgie” and “Little G,” 30, of Howard Avenue, Bridgeport
JOSE LUIS SANCHEZ, a.k.a. “Lou” and “Luisito,” 38, of Voight Avenue, Bridgeport
JONATHAN BANKS, a.k.a. “Capone,” 32, of Marina Village, South Avenue, Bridgeport
ABNER TORRES, 26, of Seaview Avenue, Bridgeport
LASHAWN RUFF, a.k.a. “Shawny Rock,” 32, of Taft Avenue, Bridgeport
TERRENCE BROWN, a.k.a. “Fugi,” 30, of Ogden Street, Bridgeport
EDDIE PAGAN, 30, of Hawley Avenue, Bridgeport
JOEL SOTO, a.k.a. “Joe Crack,” 27, of Cleveland Avenue, Bridgeport
VINCENT VARELA, a.k.a. “Vic,” 29, of Pearl Street, Bridgeport
NELSON ALBALADEJO, a.k.a. “Peelback,” 31, of Smith Street, Derby
VICTOR ROBERSON, a.k.a. “Cool V,” 37, of Marina Village, South Avenue, Bridgeport
JASON RIVERA, 27, of Chestnut Street, Bridgeport
ANGEL RIVERA, a.k.a. “Ange,” 28, of State Street, Bridgeport
ADRIAN RIVERA, a.k.a. “Heff,” 24, of Summerfield Avenue, Bridgeport
GREGORY CRUZ, a.k.a. “June,” 32, of Hawley Avenue, Bridgeport
JOSEPH CARRERO, 23, of Little Deer Road, Bridgeport
ANTHONY ARMSTEAD, a.k.a. “Most,” 30, of Charles Street, Bridgeport
RUBEN CRUZ, a.k.a. “Rube,” 29, of Jackson Avenue, Stratford
JAVIER HERNANDEZ, a.k.a. “Javi,” 27, of 172 Grove Street, Bridgeport
CARLTON WATSON, a.k.a. “Carton,” 22, of Caroline Street, Bridgeport
ALLEN NAVARRO, 36, of Clover Street, Ansonia
RICHARD NAU, 26, of Light Street, Stratford
MONSERRATE VIDRO, a.k.a. “June,” 33, of Wilson Road, Easton
MIGUEL RIVERA, 26, of Palisades Avenue, Bridgeport
A second Indictment charges a conspiracy to distribute heroin and crack cocaine throughout Bridgeport and Fairfield County between January 2008 and January 2009. Earlier today, the following individuals charged in the Indictment were arrested by agents and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force:
MALCOLM WHITE, a.k.a. “Malc” and “X,” 33, of Marina Village, South Avenue, Bridgeport
SHAMARR MYERS, 30, of Westfield Avenue, Bridgeport
CORNELIUS TAYLOR, a.k.a. “Corn,” 35, of Chopsey Hill, Bridgeport
JUAN HERNANDEZ, a.k.a. “Keyes,” of Carleton Avenue, Bridgeport
DAMEON WHITAKER, a.k.a. “Knowledge” and “John Measles,” of Atlantic Street, Bridgeport
SARAH RODRIGUEZ, 21, Marina Village, South Avenue, Bridgeport
SAMMUEL BOLTON, 32, of Pearl Street, Bridgeport
FRANKLIN JACKSON, 39, of Newfield Avenue, Bridgeport
ALEX ROTAS, 23, of Newtown
MAYRA MIRO, 24, of Putnam Street, Bridgeport

Most of the defendants were presented in United States District Court in Bridgeport and have been ordered held without bond pending detention hearings that will occur in the coming days. In addition to those arrested today, several defendants named in the Indictment currently are in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction.

Several defendants are being sought by law enforcement.

In addition to the arrests, Task Force agents executed five search warrants and seized narcotics, cash, vehicles, and firearms.

“I want to acknowledge the incredibly hard work and commitment of the FBI, Bridgeport Police, and all of the federal, state and local law enforcement officers who participated in the lengthy investigation of this matter and today’s arrests,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney Dannehy. “Federal penalties for distributing cocaine, crack and heroin are severe, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal partners will continue to work with local and state law enforcement to break up narcotics trafficking rings and vigorously prosecute their participants.”

If convicted, the majority of the defendants face a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a maximum term of life, and fines of up to $4,000,000. Due to prior narcotics trafficking convictions, a number of defendants face mandatory 20-year or lifetime terms of imprisonment.

“The federal warrants executed today are the culmination of a year-long joint investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, the Connecticut State Police and the Bridgeport Police Department,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Mertz. “The FBI also recognizes and thanks for their invaluable assistance the Norwalk, Stamford, Trumbull, Fairfield, Stratford, Hartford, New Haven, East Haven and New York MTA Police Departments, the Internal Revenue Service, Connecticut Department of Correction, and the Department of Labor. This is yet another example of the FBI’s commitment to working with federal, state and local law enforcement to combat violent crime.”

During the execution of the federal search and arrest warrants, an FBI Special Agent unintentionally discharged his weapon and defendant JUAN HERNANDEZ was injured. HERNANDEZ was taken to the hospital where he is being treated for a non life-threatening injury. Consistent with FBI policy where an FBI Agent is involved in a shooting, an independent team will investigate the incident.

Acting United States Attorney Dannehy stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Each defendant is entitled to a fair trial at which it is the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This matter is being investigated by members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, which is composed of federal agents and state and local officers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, the Connecticut State Police Statewide Narcotics Task Force, and the Bridgeport, Stamford, Stratford, Fairfield, Trumbull and Norwalk Police Departments. This matter is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hal Chen and Tracy Dayton.



  1. Caruso’s plan is a mirror of what has become the democratic strategy. Let’s tax the rich and give the money to the poor. That is nothing more than socialism at its best.
    Caruso needs to realize that we are one of the most heavily taxed states in the country. The Dems in Hartford have been driving business out of Connecticut for years. They tax the ass off of businesses. Add to that some of the highest utility costs in the country and a wage scale that is way too high and what do you have? Businesses fleeing Connecticut. This man never really had a real job nor has he had the responsibility of raising a family so he does not realize the importance of keeping jobs here in Connecticut.
    The Dems are pissed because the governor’s plan as we see it appears to be a good plan. Any plan that does not raise taxes is a good plan. It appears she may have taken the wind out of the sails of any democratic candidate for governor.

  2. Back to today’s issues:

    The wealthy ain’t what they used to be. Modern money comes from close proximity to the government printing press. They’re not rich, they’re just beneficiaries of the biggest debt-bomb in history. Too many special interests have voted themselves goodies from the public treasury and in the process created a huge national debt. The debt might be public but the funds are private. To soak the rich is to reduce / retake / eliminate that debt. The so-called rich are at the heart of the current credit crisis. America already has a $10.3 trillion debt–isn’t that the ultimate stimulus program?

  3. A little off topic. Can someone explain why in this time of a major budget crisis in the city that the city IT dept is trying to purchase a $500,000.00 storage server? I thought the idea was to cut back spending not increase it.

  4. Local eyes did I read your post correctly? The rich are at fault for the national debt? Don’t you think that the people who have taken out all of these bad mortgages have some responsibility for part of this problem? Do you think that politicians like Dodd and Franks have responsibility for part of this problem? The rich (I am not one of them) already pay a very high tax rate. To lay the blame solely on them is wrong. You talk about special-interest groups look at the Dem version of the stimulus package.

  5. In America, socialism is the byproduct of 44 years of deficit spending. Over 51% of GDP comes from Medicare and Social Security, making The USA a mostly socialist country. Since 1965, MediCare has been a pure welfare program–THERE’S NO SUCH THING as a person who’s paid for it–it’s a freebie. SS became a welfare program when cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA) were added. All recipients now receive more than they put in. Diplomats call it socialism; critics call it welfare.

    Yes, the rich created the national debt.
    Sub-prime mortgages were invented by rich people to enslave poor people.
    Thanks to 44 years of deficit spending, rich people pay little or no taxes. If they wanna move away, let’s buy ’em a suitcase (wink).
    Yes, politicians left easy-to-read footprints in the mud they created!

  6. Dear Christopher Caruso,

    I think your take on tax strategies to alleviate the current economic challenges in our state stinks to high heaven. I am surprised that a veteran legislator such as yourself would have such limited vision. You have clearly missed all concept of what is necessary, albeit sacrificing, to stabilize the economy of Connecticut.

    In my view, business shall be the salvation. Only when a business person determines that the climate of the state is suitable to at risk investment shall new businesses be established. Our “salvation” lies in the drive of small business people who will take a chance and start a business that will need 3 people, then 5, then 10 then 20 and so on. You propose to install a tax structure on business that will build an impenetrable barrier that will scare even the most hearty away from our state. All you have to do, dummy, is look at the current structure to see how much burden is placed on business in this state to know why our business basis has not grown even in good times. Any proposal to further add to that burden in simply not well thought out.

    As far as I am concerned, you are taking up too much space (no pun intended) in the State House. We need intelligence, vision and strategic thinkers unburdened by political obligation to rally and fix our troubled state. Sadly, you possess none of those characteristics.

  7. yahooy could not have made the case any better for why taxing rich people more makes little sense.

    By the same token, my eyes couldn’t believe what they were seeing in Local Eye’s posting. Makes absolutely no sense.

  8. Watchdogs Cut From Rell’s Budget
    By Mark Pazniokas on February 4, 2009 11:20 AM

    The deep budget cuts that Gov. M. Jodi Rell is proposing today would eliminate two high-profile, self-funded watchdog agencies that advocate for residents on health issues and utility rates: the offices of health-care advocate and consumer counsel.

    The two offices are among 23 agencies and commissions that Rell will ask to eliminate or merge in the budget proposal she is delivering to the General Assembly at noon.

    The governor is proposing a $17.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year, about $1 billion less than state budget officials say would be necessary to maintain current services.

    Her budget chief, Robert Genuario, said today that means the state must contract to “core services.”

    But the elimination of the watchdogs is likely to be a hardsell in the legislature.

    The attempt to eliminate the office of health-care advocate comes as the administration is engaged in a long-running dispute with Kevin Lembo, the chief advocate, over the quality of care provided to Medicaid recipients in Connecticut.

    “I’m surprised and more than a little disappointed,” Lembo said.

    Another high-profile watchdog, the office of the child advocate, would eliminated as an independent agency and folded into the attorney general’s office at a projected savings of $1.6 million over the next two years.

    Several of the watchdogs are independently funded by levies on the industries they help regulate, but the administration will attempt to fold those independent funds into the state budget, Genuario said.

    The elimination of consumer counsel would remove an independent entity that often challenges utility rates, sometimes suing state rate-setters. Mary Healey, the consumer counsel, intends to make a case to legislators to maintain its independence.

    Rell also wants to cut special commissions that advocate for women and minorities.

    One initiative in the new budget will be an office of accountability to attack waste and ineffciency.

  9. OP-ED: It’s Budget Day In Connecticut
    by Jonathan Pelto | February 4, 2009 12:40 PM
    Posted to Opinion | State Capitol

    It’s Budget Day in Connecticut … a day when each and every person who is concerned about state government turns their attention to Hartford. With great fanfare, pomp, and circumstance, the sitting governor enters a joint session of the Connecticut General Assembly and lays out their budget proposal.

    Today, it is Governor M. Jodi Rell’s turn and she has spent months preparing for this moment. Like any proposed budget, today’s document is a comprehensive blueprint for the state for the next two years and, at the same time, a unique political statement and document.

    As budget proposals go, this one is far more on the “political document side” of the spectrum then anything we’ve seen in Connecticut — perhaps in living memory.

    In her address to the State on Monday night, Rell began her speech by introducing her upcoming budget by saying…

    “It is a budget that sets a fundamentally new vision for state government.

    A smaller government.

    A less expensive government.

    A more efficient government.

    And most importantly, a government that is more in line with what you — our taxpayers — can afford.”

    Now, those are bold words! Fighting words!

    At this very moment, as they hand out still warm copies of her plan, it is clear that Rell has brought political rhetoric to a new high (or low depending on your outlook).

    Over the coming hours, days, and weeks we’ll know much more about what Rell’s budget really contains, but some basics are already clear.

    While she will stick to her claim that her budget includes no new taxes, the fact is that this budget is just about as far as one can get from a plan that promotes a “smaller, less expensive, and more efficient” government.

    Rell’s budget is a fraud and a sham.

    It is not even remotely in balance.

    She undermines program after program by raiding funds that are meant to tackle some of the most significant challenges facing our state.

    She proposes to borrow money to provide one time revenues for on-going expenses.

    She makes extraordinary cuts to some of the most vital and essential state services, cuts that will undermine the quality of life for tens of thousands of Connecticut residents.

    She decimates Connecticut’s commitment to education and especially to our responsibility to provide higher educational opportunities for our citizens. At the same time, she balances her budget on unattainable “government reorganizations” and “employee savings” that can only be achieved by dramatically reducing the number of front line workers either through layoffs or worse, an illogical and counterproductive early retirement program.

    Finally, one of the most shocking aspects of the Governor’s budget plan is her intention to use Connecticut’s share of the Federal Stimulus legislation to supplant rather than supplement Connecticut’s existing governmental resources.

    From transportation and infrastructure funds, to additional dollars for Medicare, primary, secondary, and higher education, the Governor’s proposal seeks to reduce state allocations for those activities and then “fills the hole” with new federal funds.

    Despite President Obama’s historic commitment to tackle this historic economic crisis, the next impact of Governor Rell’s proposal will be to ensure that few, if any, new jobs are created and little, if any, new support will be offered to the thousands of Connecticut families who are suffering.

    The Federal Stimulus Package (in all of its present variations) is, in fact, designed to assist states with their deficits – but more importantly – it is designed to target funds to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and make key investments in vital areas of governmental activity.

    By using the new stimulus funds to simply supplant existing expenses, the Governor undermines the most fundamental goal of President Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

    By taking this action now, she can and will blame Congress and Connecticut’s congressional delegation if (1) the final package is less than what she has put into the budget and/or (2) the package requires spending in specific areas that would prevent her from using all the funds to simply supplant existing revenue.

    Rest assured that should there eventually be a need to increase taxes, Rell will be quick to blame the Democrats here and in Washington by portraying any stimulus fund restrictions as the reason tax hikes may now be needed.

    While Connecticut is facing an historic budget problem, this catastrophic economic crisis requires a far more aggressive and sophisticated effort than just grabbing a few hundred million in new federal dollars and dumping it into the state’s budget gap.

    The Governor’s political pandering; raiding of funds, borrowing for current expenditures, and attempt to dismiss and undermine the federal effort is certainly understandable from a political standpoint. But her lack of leadership is completely reprehensible if our state and nation are truly engaged in getting through these troubled times by preserving essential state services, creating jobs, and helping the ever-increasing numbers of people in need.

    Jonathan Pelto is a former State Representative, a Democrat, and is President of Impact Strategies Inc., a public relations company that specializes in issue advocacy.

  10. I am delighted to tell OIB readers that my economic ideas–once dismissed and ill-received–are now gaining traction with the previously mystified. They make sense and are rooted in logic.
    Simply put, it goes like this: 44 years of deficit spending explains absolutely everything. The list is endless.

    1. “44 years of deficit spending,” indeed! Why is it that when an immigrant from Poland or Brazil or Portugal or somewhere other than here goes to the used-car lot to purchase an automobile he is fully prepared to pay for the vehicle IN CASH? And why is it that Americans are all too willing to put themselves in debt up to their eyeballs? “E-Z credit here at Dollar Bill’s Used Autos! Only 10% down and $59.00 a week and you can be the proud owner of this fine jalopy!”

  11. Governor Rell’s proposed (the operative word here) budget is considered and well thought out. From what I’ve read she and her advisers anticipated everything that could be made into an issue. And Governor Rell is also open to compromise. She knows that some old-fashioned horse trading is essential for the executive and legislative branches of government to work together.

    I think State Representative Caruso was playing to the cheap seats by calling to increase taxes on Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens. It came across as the usual subtle-as-cheap-cologne bluster that Mr. Caruso is (in)famous for. It’s not a bad idea; however one worth considering for the simple fact that we all ought to pay our fair and proportionate share of the tax burden.

  12. Johnb; The article you posted by Mr. Pelto seems like it was the democratic response to the budget proposals of Gov Rell. May I be so bold as to suggest Mr. Pelto look at the house version of this sham stimulus proposal? I defy him to tell me where the 3 million jobs are. It has been estimated that the jobs created by this ham will cost between $200 & $300 thousand per job.
    It is time for government to get out of the business of looking after everyone’s problems. There are 53,000 (give or take) state employees for a population of 3,000,000 or 1 worker for every 6 residents. That’s a wee bit much.

  13. Johnb here is part of Mr. Pelto’s resume and as I thought his response was the democratic response.

    Connecticut Democrats
    (Non-Profit; Political Organization industry)

    1975 — Present (34 years)

    Served as Political Director for the Democratic Party in Connecticut from 1986-1992 and managed or worked on various political campaigns including those of Joe Courtney, Chris Dodd, Sam Gejdenson, Toby Moffitt, Bill O’Neill, Barbara Kennelly, Bill Cibes, Nancy Wyman, Gary Hart and many legislative campaigns for State Senator and State Representative.

    ct citizen
    Active with Connecticut Public Policy
    (Public Relations and Communications industry)

    1975 — 2008 (33 years)

    Slightly left of center don’t you think?

  14. The economic stimulus package making its way through the U.S. Senate has the potential to turn around Bridgeport’s fortunes. That a huge chunk of the money will make its way here is a fait accompli, with Jim Himes on the case. One thing causes more than a little concern: how much of this money will get down to the street level in the form of paychecks? Will the money simply flow to the coffers of a few well-connected businessmen in Bridgeport, suits with fabulous complections, blow-dried hair, pinky rings and first-name relationships with the movers and shakers of the DTC?

  15. Bpt Kid … You have got to be kidding on this stimulus package.

    The House put out a piece of crap, catering to all their little voting blocks. Now just like Bush and Iraq, we have to settle this and get it done in a week … Even though ramifications will be around for generations.

    As posted by others, I am not saying much of their largesse is bad (food stamps, etc) but how does that stimulate our economy?

    Figure out how to fix the banks (and $500K salary cap is not the answer), get a credit for new car and home purchasing and start to stimulate business. This package as currently configured is a farce.

  16. Denis OMalley: you’re just criticizing something you don’t understand. Don’t be surprised if Bob Dylan knocks on your door this afternoon.

    Deficit Spending and the resulting inflation is a huge national dis-saving program. It sucks savings out of the system and replaces it with debt. That’s why most Americans are broke.

  17. Local I definitely understand the stimulus package; what I don’t understand is your last post. The reason why most Americans are broke is because they spent money they did not have. They bought houses and cars they could not afford. They ran their credit cards to the max and then decided to worry about it.
    Whose responsibility is it when a person takes a 108% mortgage on a house and then pays only the interest for a fixed period of time? They know at the end of that fixed period of time the principal is due along with the interest. They know they won’t be able to afford that house when the principal is added in, yet they still buy that house. That’s why they are broke.
    By the way the deficit spending was there because Uncle Sam was trying to be all things to all people, just look at all the giveaway programs and look how they are prominent in the stimulus package. BTW I know about the Iraq war.

  18. Wondering–I was just giving the other side of the coin. A free exchange of opinions and ideas is what is necessary to form a workable compromise. Didn’t you think I knew what I was posting? Wait, don’t answer that.

  19. AMERICANS aren’t broke because they spent money they didn’t have.
    AMERICANS are broke because they borrowed money they couldn’t repay!
    MORTGAGE brokers have violated their fiduciary duties when they present misleading loans to unsuspecting borrowers. I blame the bankers not the former homeowners.
    And finally, in their attempt to please voters, CONGRESS has overpromised in a way that now threatens American Capitalism.
    What’s the opposite of PROgress?
    Answer: CONgress.
    I hope it’s temporary, but right now America is moving backwards. Let’s turn that ship around!

  20. Johnb You knew exactly what you were posting and your purpose was to knock the governor’s plan.
    Local you are right but the homeowners are also to blame. They have a responsibility to know what they are getting into and whether they can pay for it or not.
    The people that I sold a house to here in Bridgeport took out a 108% mortgage. They knew that. They knew that they were mortgaging $286,000. They knew that they both worked in Maintenance jobs, they knew what their income was and basically knew what it would be a few years down the road. Today that house is empty. Were the mortgage brokers complicit in this? They sure were. It’s time that people take responsibility for their actions.

  21. Wondering: “Johnb You knew exactly what you were posting and your purpose was to knock the governor’s plan.”

    JohnB: “Didn’t you think I knew what I was posting?”

    As a friend of mine would say–asked and answered.

  22. Husky Population Asked To Share Burden
    Office of Health Care Advocate Gets the Ax

    by Christine Stuart | February 4, 2009 6:52 PM
    Posted to Health Care

    Taking a play straight from former Gov. John Rowland’s playbook, Rell proposed raising a total of $18 million over the next two years by charging low-income adults monthly premiums and co-pays for the state’s Husky insurance program.

    The proposed premiums would be applied on a sliding scale and could equal from 10 to 20 percent of the cost of services provided. The proposal received no mention in her budget address Wednesday, but was included in the 782-page document.

    When asked if this was a tax increase on some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, Rell’s Budget Director Robert Genuario, said “No, not at all.” He said the poorest of the groups would still be exempt from that co-pay and for those being asked to pay “it’s a payment for service.”

    Connecticut now charges families earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level no monthly premium to participate in Husky. Those above 185 percent of the federal poverty level must pay a premium. Premiums for those on the Husky B plan also will increase, and only emergency dental services will be offered to adults on Medicaid and Saga.

    Children under the age of 18 and individuals at or below 100 percent of the federal poverty level won’t be asked to participate in the cost sharing, Genuario said.

    State Healthcare Advocate Kevin Lembo said in a phone interview Wednesday night that he was still analyzing the proposal, but in general cost sharing is an obstacle for getting health care to the poor. He said the savings are not realized in the dollars received as part of the cost sharing, but in the direct care that people receive.

    “Cost sharing just puts an obstacle in the way,” Lembo said.

    Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro even weighed in on the issue. In a statement released Wednesday night, DeLauro said, “It is unfortunate and disappointing that on the same day as we celebrate President Obama’s signing into law the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization, Governor Rell proposed a budget that would cut back some of the very health care services that Congress fought so hard to preserve and expand.”

    “There is no question that given the extremely dire budget circumstances facing Connecticut, balancing the budget is no easy task,” DeLauro said. “But now is not the time to balance the state’s budget on the backs of low and middle-income Connecticut residents – many of whom are children. Ultimately, efforts to expand health care coverage will hold little value for our nation’s children and families if access to care continues to erode, whether by chipping away at benefits or increasing co-pays and deductibles.”

    Connecticut Voices for Children agrees.

    In the statement sent out Wednesday night the policy organization said, “Cuts to HUSKY are penny wise and pound foolish, particularly in this environment. Preventive care through HUSKY can help reduce costs for the entire health care system.”

    In addition to the Husky cost sharing, Rell proposed eliminating the Office of the Healthcare Advocate, whose staff has been vocal about their opposition to the combination of the Husky program with her new Charter Oak Health Plan for uninsured adults.

    When asked if he thought it was retribution for the opposition, Lembo said, “I can’t believe it would be retribution.”

    “At best it was a misinformed attempt to trim,” he said.

    The Office of the State Healthcare Advocate is an independent state agency which helps consumers resolve health insurance issues. It receives its operating expenses from the Insurance Fund, which is a levy on insurance companies to pay for their own regulation and for the consumer advocate.

    He said by eliminating the office all Rell’s administration is doing is giving a credit back to the insurance industry. He said last year with a budget of $1 million and seven employees, he was able to help more than 2,000 consumers save $5.2 million in claims.

    Since Jan. 1, 2005 the office has helped about 7,500 consumers save $14 million in claims.

    “Not only do we have a business model that’s efficient, it’s one that’s being exported across the country,” Lembo said.

    Juan Figueroa, president of the Universal Healthcare Foundation said, ” In addition to proposing short-sighted cuts to the state’s health care safety net responsible for our state’s most vulnerable residents, the governor’s budget calls for the elimination of the Office of the Healthcare Advocate. This would deal a devastating blow to consumers at a time when advocacy on their behalf is most urgently needed.”

  23. “… suspends binding arbitration that has killed the city for decades.”

    Please be a bit more clear on this Lennie.

    From my experience, the only thing “binding” in arbitration is the ruling as it comes down against labor.

    My understanding of “binding” arbitration as it relates to Connecticut:

    2 sides can not come to an agreement in Labor Contract negotiations.

    No problem, go to the state, and go in front of a supposedly “neutral” board.

    The board makes a ruling. Labor has to take it. The City, if they do NOT like it, can vote to get another whack at it. Ask the Mayor how that is done.

    The State board then makes another ruling, certainly in favor of the City. Everyone cheers, the City saves money by beating down those mean old folks from Labor.

    And then THAT is Binding.

    So please Lennie–explain to me how this whole binding arbitration thing has killed the City. Maybe City employees should work for free. You think your quality of services is bad now …

    Now before others chime in on how “Good” labor has it–when you compare the salaries and compensation packages of similar jobs in similar Cities, it is clear that Bridgeport employees make less than the other large Cities in the state.

    Oh yeah, that’s right–we’re ALL overpaid. I forgot.

    Maybe the City should be more concerned by hiring good employees that are production, instead of handing out jobs to lackeys. Then, you’d find out how much you can do with motivated employees, and you can trim the fat.

    The salaries aren’t the problem. It is the overemployment of lazy, unmotivated people, of which many know they are secure because they are connected.

    If you want good people, you either have to pay them well, have good benefit packages or a great working environment.

    Seen that lately?

  24. During the last election cycle, someone said, “I will do more in two (2) years, than Keeley did in 24 years.”

    The article in the above link should remind folks of the importance in keeping ranking elected officials in office.
    The absence of Keeley in the Bonding Commission will prove to be a step backwards for Bridgeport projects. Add to this the absence of Rob Russo and one should expect a negative impact to Bridgeport projects that is twice as hard. No Bob Keeley, no Rob Russo and no Chris Shays means: no communication with the Governor Rell.

  25. Lennie, you’re a smart guy.

    Please spend two minutes looking at this:

    It’s a review of state income taxes across America.

    What you’ll find is that Connecticut’s top rate is below that of Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.


    So with Connecticut trailing the field, do we have to use such loaded terms as “soaking the rich” when we address the possibility of making our state income tax structure more progressive?

    The fact is that I look around and I see only one segment of American society that did well under the Bush regime. And that’s not the reasonably well-off (although they did somewhat okay). No, it’s the very, very rich.

    Folks like Ned Lamont or Scott Frantz have accumulated so much of our country’s wealth in the past decade, why not look to them to share a little more of it?

    The fairer among the Greenwich Country Club set will admit what a great deal they’ve enjoyed, and those that don’t hold to greed as religion might not like taxes, but aren’t about to believe that another point or two in income taxes would be the end of the world.

    America did very well under higher taxes in the 1990’s, thank you. The rates were a little higher, but they weren’t socialism nor un-American. Yet the subsequent Bush tax cuts never seemed to do much for our country’s economy. So I won’t believe that a marginal rate increase, at the top, would be awful for anyone.

  26. Lennie–

    I hear you. I bought a new car, and I still can’t believe I had to ante up nearly $2,000 in sales tax.

    And the property taxes are ridiculous here in New Haven (although they’re still less than Bpt.)

    But what doesn’t escape me is that if my car were registered in Greenwich, I’d be paying only a fifth of the tax I’m paying now. And probably half the insurance.

    Ditto for a $400,000 house. Which probably pays $10-12K/yr in Bpt property taxes, but would pay less then $3K/yr in Greenwich. Is that friggin’ equitable?

    The whole damn thing needs tweaking.

    That’s why I’m asking you to step away from the “soak the rich” terminology, and realize that the top 10% has a great friggin’ deal here in Connecticut, even while the majority of us are fighting to get by.

    fwiw. We’re in this together.


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