Tag Archives: Governor Malloy

New Britain Resident Gets Stay of Deportation with Support From LASO, Governor Malloy

By Kassondra Granata

New Britain resident Mariano Cardoso had been facing the threat of deportation for the better part of 2011.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security granted the 23-year-old Capital Community College student a stay of deportation, a result that likely wouldn’t have been achieved without the support Cardoso received from Governor Dannel Malloy, state senators and the local community, including the CCSU chapter of the Latin American Student Organization.

Cardoso arrived in the country from Mexico when he was 22 months old. He spent the early parts of his life growing up in Bronx, N.Y. before calling New Britain home for the last 10 years. Cardoso plans to graduate from Capital Community College in a month with a liberal arts degree and dreams of becoming a math teacher or engineer.

His troubles began in 2008 when he was picked up at his uncle’s house by immigration agents looking for another person. In February, he received a letter warning him of deportation.

Cardoso tried to fight the case alone before reaching out to the community and groups like LASO for help. Upon hearing his case, LASO knew that it was their job to help.

“This is what LASO is here for,” said Molly McLaughlin, vice president of CCSU LASO. “We support them and we’re family.”

McLaughlin said that Cardoso’s situation is the most controversial that she has seen thus far.

“It’s interesting that this is happening in our own backyard and so many people are unaware of this and the DREAM Act,” said McLaughlin. “We’re trying to bring awareness to our community.”

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, or DREAM Act, is a bill that was first introduced in Congress in 2001 that would protect undocumented students in the U.S.

“At this time in our constitution and legislation we don’t have any rights that protect undocumented students,” said McLaughlin.

LASO has recently increased their efforts to get this bill passed ever since Cardoso has come in the picture. The group began their efforts by talking to faculty and people around campus. McLaughlin also took efforts of her own by writing a letter to congress in regards to the DREAM Act. So far, McLaughlin has collected over 200 signatures from students and faculty in support of the DREAM Act and is hoping to send it to Congress with a cover letter.

“It’s a letter to the president and Congress to pass the DREAM Act because there are so many other students going through this like Mariano,” said McLaughlin.

All the hard work eventually paid off and media exposure lead to Malloy giving his full support to Cardoso. Malloy went public on April 20 supporting Cardoso’s case in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security.

“For all intents and purposes, Mariano is American,” said Malloy in his letter. “To send him back to a country he has no recollection of and did not grow up in makes little sense, particularly as he is finishing his degree and looking to contribute to his community and this state.”

Malloy also expressed his support for the DREAM Act.

“I strongly support the efforts of Congress in considering the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors that would providence individuals like Mariano the opportunity to apply for temporary legal status and eventually permanent legal status and citizenship,” said Malloy in his letter. “Even if the DREAM Act were eventually approved, however, it would not become effective in time to assist Mariano.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal also called on officials to defer the deportation of Cardoso and to give his support for the DREAM Act. Blumenthal mentioned Cardoso in his statements and stated that he is going to find ways to assist Cardoso in his efforts.

“This decision is right for Mariano – and right for America – in light of his roots in the community and his future contributions to our society,” said Blumenthal in his statement announcing the stay that was granted. “I am thrilled with the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to grant Mariano Cardoso a stay of removal, renewable each year, so that he can remain in the only country he has ever known. Mariano is a promising young man with a bright future, and DHS’ swift action on this issue ensures that he will be able to continue contributing to his community.”

“I gained support that I wasn’t expecting,” Cardoso said at a panel discussing deportation held at CCSU last Wednesday. “The governor and Senator [Richard] Blumenthal spoke on my behalf and it’s an honor.”

Cardoso expressed his gratitude towards LASO and all of the support he received from students and those who have helped him try to solve this issue.

“So far I have much to learn and my goal is to meet with as many people as I can,” Cardoso said. “I know I have a lot of people to support me and with that in mind, I have something to strive with.”

At the panel the audience asked Cardoso about his experience with immigration and the threat of deportation, the response he’s received from the community and the support he has gained by addressing the public with his issue.

Vivian Nowakowski, a New Britain resident, had a similar story to share at the panel. In 2008, her husband was deported. Nowakowski explained her grief and the efforts that she made to get him back. Her husband was eventually able to return to the country.

“If anyone has a voice and they could help or know anyone else that could they must contact someone because this is a horrible, horrible thing,” said Nowakowski.

The DREAM Act was passed by the House of Representatives towards the end of 2010 with 55 yes votes and 41 no votes, but failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed for it to pass the Senate.

Higher Ed Deal Aims to Preserve University Missions

By Matt Clyburn

A deal to reorganize the governance of Connecticut’s higher education institutions was reached yesterday after a week of discussions between the Office of Policy and Management and Higher Education Chairperson Roberta B. Willis.

The agreement contains many elements proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy during his budget announcements in February, including the creation of a single Board of Regents overseeing the four Connecticut state universities, twelve community colleges and Charter Oak State College.

The agreement also calls for the creation of an advisory commission reporting to the Board of Regents. The commission would design and implement a strategic plan for the state’s higher education system, including the University of Connecticut.

A press release from Malloy’s office stressed that state universities, community colleges and Charter Oak would remain separate entities with distinct missions. Each of the three groups will have a “lead individual” serving on the Board of Regents, presumably to advocate for policy and governance policies while a member of the body.

“I’m pleased that we were able to tie up loose ends and formalize this proposal on behalf of our state’s students who choose to attend our community colleges, regional universities and Charter Oak,” said Mark Ojakian, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management in a statement. “In the end, it’s the students who win. By flattening our administrations costs and overhead, we can direct more money to our student and classroom instruction.”

“This proposal will help make these schools more functional to those who attend them,” Ojakian said.

Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Laura Tordenti spoke to the SGA senate about the agreement at their meeting last week, saying that the plan will be in place by July 1.

“I think that Central will continue to thrive with the reorganization,” Tordenti said.

In the statement from the governor’s office, Rep. Willis of the Higher Education Committee said that she was originally concerned about the individual institutions’ missions.

“They serve a critical and defined need in our communities, one that must be maintained even as we seek efficiencies and savings,” Willis said.

“The commitment to a strategic plan is important,” Willis added. “The Advisory Commission will have an ongoing and permanent role, needed for us to be able to adjust to changing needs in Connecticut and responsive to student needs and workforce development needs in the state that our higher education system can address.”

Back in February, Malloy called for an annual report from the Board of Regents that identifies retention and graduation rates, resource allocation figures, cost-benefit analyses and an “affordability index” tied to Connecticut’s average family household income. The report is expected to include information related to enrollment and completion figures sorted by program of study, credit transferability across institutions and employment outcome data provided by the Department of Labor.

Rep. Willis said that more specifics need to be worked out, but that the plan is based on a need for change and improvement.

“In the end, we can improve student learning, help close the achievement gap, prepare student for 21st century jobs our state will need to move us forward, and make higher education more efficient and effective.

If passed out of the General Assembly, the plan would take effect in tandem with implementation of the state budget for Fiscal Year 2012.

[Updated May 2]

Budget Agreement Will Affect Students’ Wallets

By Matt Clyburn

After 17 town hall meetings with the public and weeks of negotiations in Hartford, Governor Dannel Malloy reached a $40.2 billion budget deal last Wednesday with Democratic leaders in the Connecticut General Assembly.

The deal will raise taxes on income, retail sales, corporations, gasoline, alcohol, cigarettes and inheritance. Though the plan excludes proposals to raise various sales taxes and impose taxes on haircuts and car washes, the state plans to raise nearly $10 million in a new “Amazon Tax” that levies a tax on purchases made over the Internet.

The budget agreement succeeded in raising the tax on retail sales, including shoes and clothing under $50, from 6 percent to 6.35 percent. The new tax rate will also apply to over-the-counter drugs, cosmetic surgery, pet grooming, limousine rides, valet parking at Bradley International Airport, manicures and pedicures. Gasoline and diesel fuel taxes will be increased by three cents per gallon.

Democrats rejected Malloy’s proposal to eliminate the annual “sales-tax-free week” in August meant to ease the tax burden on families with students returning to school. Car sales over $50,000 and jewelry sales more than $5,000 will be subject to a higher seven percent sales tax.

Malloy’s original proposal would have charged the 6.35 percent rate on the first $50,000 of a vehicle purchase and seven percent on the amount exceeding that level. Now, a car retailing at $50,000 would cost $53,500 after taxes.

Deal-hunting shoppers were concerned about a proposal that would have charged sales tax on the full value of an item discounted by coupons. Under the proposal, a coupon applying a 10 percent discount to a $100 item would still be charged $6.35 in taxes, rather than $5.72 on the discounted $90 total. The deal reached Wednesday will avoid the coupon tax.

Many Republicans criticized the plan for raising taxes during a down economy, but were hopeful that the governor would be able to strike a deal for $2 billion in concessions with state workers. Democrats have been in negotiations with the state employee unions for several weeks but no deal has been reached.

“We are willing to work with all representatives of good intentions to resolve the state’s problems – Republicans and Democrats,” Malloy said in a recent statement.

Malloy said that he listened to Republicans and members of the public in improving the budget he presented in February.

“[The budget] asks more of our wealthiest residents who can afford it, it softens the tax burden on the middle class, while maintaining funding for schools,” said Democratic leader Rep. Chris Donovan in a statement at the capitol Wednesday.

Republican State Sen. John McKinney was not as enthusiastic, saying that a $2 billion hole in the budget left by the assumed savings from state employees might be unconstitutional.

“If they want to pass a budget and the governor wants to sign a budget prior to getting concessions, what happens if those concessions don’t come?” McKinney said.

“We are pleased to see that the budget has seen some improvements, such as asking the very rich to pay more of their share, as opposed to other ideas, like eliminating the property tax credit, that further hurt struggling working and middle class families,” said the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) in a statement.

“We will continue our discussions with the governor to see if common ground can be found between him and those struggling middle class families who happen to work for the state,” SEBAC said.

The budget and appropriations committees passed the budget deal on Thursday and Malloy asked the General Assembly to vote on the agreement as soon as possible.

“I want a vote as soon as we can get it,” Malloy said in a statement Monday. “If as soon as we get it is tomorrow, I’ll take it…if the soonest we can get it is next week, I’ll take that. One way or another, we need a vote.”

With Marijuana Legislation on Table, CCSU NORML Plans Second 4/20 Event

By Nick Rosa

With Governor Dannel Malloy backing bills for marijuana reform in Connecticut and April 20 (4/20) right around the corner, there is much to talk about.

Ever since the bill to allow medical marijuana in Connecticut was introduced in 2007 by the state legislature, it has been in and out of discussion. The 2007 bill to legalize medical marijuana was passed by the legislature, but former Governor Jodi Rell vetoed it.

Another bill has been proposed by Malloy to go along with the previously proposed medical marijuana bill. The proposed decriminalization bill would reduce penalties for people who have less than a half ounce of marijuana. They would be charged with an infraction, equivalent to a parking ticket, and would be charged with a $100 fine. On Tuesday the judiciary committee passed the decriminalization bill.

“I think the bills are good, for one thing it’s a step in the right direction. People will realize marijuana isn’t really that bad, it’s been relatively hyped up by the government and people in power per se. Decriminalization hopefully will get rid of imprisoning non-violent offenders,” said Larry Vitko, president of the CCSU chapter of the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws.

Vitko also said he is against the medical bill because of certain fallacies in the debate, but overall supports it as a step in the right direction for legalization.

The medical marijuana bill would require patients to register with the Department of Consumer Protection and also have their physician certify that there is a medical need for marijuana. Another proposal would allow patients to grow their own marijuana for medical use since no dispensaries will be placed in Connecticut.

If Connecticut passes the bill for medical marijuana it will become the sixteenth state to allow it, and if the decriminalization bill passes Connecticut will be the fourteenth state to have marijuana decriminalized.

The new decriminalization bill would work with Malloy’s efforts to reduce Connecticut’s prison population, which will help save the state millions of dollars. A report in 2009 by the Capitol’s Office of Fiscal Analysis said that there were 9,928 marijuana arrests in 2007. A third of those arrests were of possession of less than an ounce.

According to the report, the decriminalization bill could help the state save up to $11 million and generate $320,000 annually in revenue from fines.

At a hearing earlier in March, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said, “Our state should not encourage illegal drug possession and use; however, possession of small amounts of illicit substances and related paraphernalia for personal use should not leave a person with a life-long criminal record.”

Malloy and Looney both agree that incarcerating small time offenders isn’t good for Connecticut and marijuana prohibition isn’t working.

With April 20 right around the corner and the new legislature still up in the air, Vitko and the other members of CCSU’s NORML chapter are putting together a daylong event in the student center circle on campus as a follow-up to last year’s event.

“This is our headline event, the 4/20 event, and last time I checked we have eight bands coming to play from 12 to 8 p.m.,” said Vitko. “During the event we will be handing out different educational pamphlets and different things to raise awareness about marijuana and try to educate the public on this issue. Most people don’t know really know all the facts, to be fair it’s kind of hard to know all the facts since we have been shielded from them our whole lives.”

The music festival, which has CCSU NORML working with booking group The Arc Agency, will feature local bands and others from the northeast including (The) Tony Castles, Jacobi Wichita and Deadhorse. Before next week’s event Vitko is getting advertisement ready and trying to get some radio time to get the message across. The event will be have marijuana awareness to help the young voters realize what these bills are and what they will do for Connecticut.

“There’s going to be education, fundraising, a little bit of everything,” Vitko said. “I expect some decent turnout no matter what and last year there was a phenomenal turnout but I hope this year will be better.”

NORML wanted to do something different this year to get awareness out there, so Vitko did just that.

“The big difference is the bands because the Central radio station played last year and we didn’t really agree with it, they really didn’t play our requests, they just kind of played their own music and wasn’t really music you’d play on 4/20, so we’re just going to play some bands and should bring in a bigger crowd,” said Vitko.

Malloy Addresses Budget Concerns at New Britain Town Hall

By Matt Clyburn

Governor Dannel Malloy made an appearance in New Britain last Tuesday for the fifteenth of 17 town hall-style meetings with the public.

Malloy hoped to gather views and opinions from the public that might improve his plan that calls for $1.5 billion in tax increases, but said that none were innovative enough to solve the projected deficit of more than $3 billion.

“I [have] yet to find somebody who says, you know, that they actually have a way better,” Malloy said.

The governor spent some time at the beginning of the town hall describing features of the budget plan.

“No borrowing of money to cover operating expenses, it’s not good policy, in fact it’s horrendous policy,” Malloy said after acknowledging the unbalanced budget former Governor Jodi Rell gave to his administration in February.

“These types of forums are the heart and soul of American democracy,” New Britain Mayor Tim Stewart said in his introduction of the governor. “I think the governor deserves recognition for taking his message directly to the people.”

Stewart recently lost an election to CCSU alumna Theresa Gerratana in a bid to represent New Britain, Berlin and parts of Farmington in the State Senate. The unsuccessful run came to a close less than a week after Malloy’s budget announcement.

Stewart now faces his own budget shortfalls as the Hardware City’s mayor, though Malloy said last week that he will not pass the state’s financial difficulties on to municipalities.

“We also refuse to balance our budget on the backs of New Britain or other communities by passing cuts in the state expenditure,” Malloy said.

Malloy compared the state to the deep cuts taking place in New York and New Jersey, saying that Connecticut is already too dependent on high property taxes.

“How would our balancing the budget [by raising property taxes] help this community, or for that matter any community in Connecticut?” Malloy said. “We are more dependent on property taxes than any other state in the nation.”

Malloy faced a skeptical audience in New Britain that challenged the governor on issues ranging from government policy to health care.

“I think that you have put a lot of creative thinking in the decisions you’re making related to the budget, but I don’t think that there has been a lot of critical thinking,” one resident said.

Another resident and state employee expressed concerns about the ability to pay in the face or tax increases and concessions.

“I actually believe this is the right framework,” Malloy said. “I know how difficult it is for you and your child in college…I know how difficult it is for me to face people like you.”

Malloy said that there will not be a ‘one size fits all’ budget solution.

“What I think we’re trying to do is find the right way, but if you have a specific cut you want me to be aware…we’ll be happy to take a look at it,” Malloy said.  “I don’t think there’s a perfect way to do it.”

“This is the package. The rudiments are there. We just have to find our way as a state to get there,” Malloy said. “If we do, then ultimately we’ll begin the process of building confidence in our state for the first time in many years.”

Malloy Okays Plans, Will ‘Aggressively Pursue’ Hartford-New Britain Busway

By Michael Walsh

Governor Dannel Malloy approved plans to build a rapid bus transit system that would connect Hartford to New Britain.

“The busway is ‘ready to go’ with 80 percent federal funding and a commitment from the Federal Transit Administration to sign a Full Funding Grant Agreement,” Malloy said in a statement on Monday.

Malloy met with both advocates and opponents of the busway before making his decision on the often-delayed project.

“Gov. Malloy’s decision to construct the busway is a visionary choice for the future of our region and the whole state,” said Rep. Tim O’Brien in a press release issued Monday. “It will create new economic development and jobs and new community development opportunities. I am proud that we have a governor who believes in building the economy of our state by investing our state’s first rapid transit system.”

Opponents say that the project would be too expensive and would squash any future plans of having a light rail be constructed in its place.

A major reason for Malloy’s decision to push on with the project is the possibility of leaving federal funds on the table in regards to this particular project. In a letter received from the FTA, Malloy was told that should the state withdraw the project and seek funding consideration for an alternative rail system the state would have reenter the competitive process.

“Even if the state completed all the necessary requirements, there is no guarantee that the $275 million Connecticut would forgo now in New Starts funds would be available to the state in the future,” said Malloy in his statement. “Connecticut has a track record of leaving federal funds on the table. I am unwilling to run the risk of losing additional federal funds. It is time to break with history. The timing is right to undertake this project.”

The busway, which will be located less than two miles from the CCSU campus, has been under consideration since 2003.

“New Britain is fortunate to be at the center of Connecticut’s first rapid transit line,” said O’Brien in his statement. “It will mean that our city will have opportunities for business and economic growth and jobs into the future and that New Britain will be at the center, in our state, of transit-oriented development in neighborhoods. And the many, many construction jobs will mean employment and new opportunities for many, many New Britain residents.”