Governor Malloy's New Office of Early Childhood, the State Budget, Keno and 2014

Myra Jones-Taylor is the new executive director of the OEC.

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Governor Dannel Malloy
Photo:Chion Wolf
New Executive Director of the Office of Early Childhood, Myra Jones-Taylor
Photo:Chion Wolf
Where We Live: Governor Dannel Malloy
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Where We Live: Governor Dannel Malloy

Yesterday, Governor Malloy signed an executive order establishing the Office of Early Childhood, an idea that has broad support, and funding from the legislature.

"There was no doubt that this legislation, until it apparently got tied up in some politics, was going to pass," said Malloy.

This is the very important new initiative that lawmakers failed to actually create before the session ran out, in a bit of horse-trading gone bad. Today, in his monthly appearance on Where We Live, Governor Malloy introduces us to Myra Jones-Taylor, who is heading up this new office.

We also talk for the first time since he signed a new, two-year budget into law. Critics say it balances the books on too many one-time fixes, and ideas like Keno.

He says it moves that state forward with “no new taxes.”

But we consider one tax that is going up, a gas price increase signed into law by another governor.

And we look ahead to 2014 and the potentially close re-election campaign that he faces.



Email from Ray

As you know, in the recently passed budget is 1 billion+ dollars (it may be bonded, but it's still money) to build a technology park up at UCONN - Storrs. While I'm a great proponent of education, given the economy, one could debate whether this was a good time to begin such an undertaking. That's not the main problem, however.

As I'm sure you also know, UCONN - Storrs no longer has an adequate water supply for its needs, let alone a new technology park. One proposal put forth to provide water for an expanding Storrs campus, and Mansfield generally, is to tap into the MDC water supply, from all the way across the state in Barkhamsted. The MDC reservoir in Barkhamsted currently supplies water for essentially all of greater Hartford. It was built in the 1930s by damming the East Branch of the Farmington River. Both the East Branch and the West Branch flow through Barkhamsted. The MDC, including watershed acreage, controls a good deal of the land in Barkhamsted. I live in Barkhamsted, and oppose this plan for any number of reasons.

First, the West Branch is a very popular tourist attraction, for its fishing, boating and scenic value. Barkhamsted is a small town, and the money generated by visiting tourists is not insubstantial. While the MDC insists that such a diversion will have no impact on water flow on the West Branch, we have our doubts. Years ago, the MDC proposed to construct a tunnel to connect the West Branch to the East branch above the reservoir, in the event of increased demand. That plan was soundly criticized, and the MDC abandoned it at the time. However, I have been told that it still remains in their strategic planning for the future. Any re-routing of West Branch waters to the reservoir would be devastating, not just to Barkhamsted, but also to the downstream towns along the river.

Second, while the MDC says it has adequate supply, from the current reservoir, to handle an increased demand from UCONN, recent climatic events cast doubt on that claim. Last year, the river was at a low level not seen in my memory. No one can seriously doubt the reality of climate change, or that it will have an impact. That leads to the third reason to oppose this plan at this time.

Connecticut has done no comprehensive study to forecast future water availability and need throughout the state. Almost thirty years ago, with great fanfare, the legislature authorized such a study. Very quietly over the next couple of years it was "defunded," and never got done. The legislature has reauthorized it a couple of times since, but then again deprived it of funding. So currently, on the eve of climate change, with the northeast corner (at least) of the state running out of water, Connecticut has no idea of future water needs and availability.

Against that background, the state is about to start construction on the technology park, knowing that water to supply it will have to come from elsewhere.

What I wanted to propose to the Governor, and get a reaction to, was the following:

(1) Authorize immediately, and fund, the long deferred study of the state's future water needs and availability.

(2) Hold off on any construction of the technology park until that study is completed. This would allow a rational, and planned, discussion of water supply for the park. As we all know, once construction begins, and money has been invested, the Governor and legislature will have to get the water from somewhere, regardless of the state's future needs.

Email from Dan

There are very explicit regulations about who is permitted to teach in a public school and how they are to be evaluated. How are superintendents and commissioners evaluated, and why don't you insist on adherence to certification requirements for superintendents (see Bridgeport, for example)

Email from Bobby

I recently saw on the news that the state held an emergency response drill in conjunction with the state’s municipalities to prepare for future storms. As someone who spent a week without power twice back in 2011 when we had that winter snow storm and also tropical storm Irene; I was wondering if you could provide a update on what steps the state is taking to better prepare and respond to major storms that hit our state?