STATE BUDGET DEBATE
The Connecticut Senate has begun debating a state employee labor concessions package that’s needed to help save $1.5 billion over two years. Unionized state employees are gathered outside the Senate chamber, hoping to persuade lawmakers to approve the agreement, which is seen by Democrats as key to finally passing a new two-year budget. Republicans and some Democrats have expressed concerns about whether the labor agreement reached between Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and union leaders saves enough money. They worry it includes a four-year no-layoff clause and locks in pension and health benefits until 2027.
The state Senate has approved amended agreements that could lead to Connecticut’s first casino on nontribal land. Today’s 27-8 vote comes exactly one week after the House of Representatives voted in favor of the amended compacts and memoranda of understanding between the state and the two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans. It’s now up to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to sign off on those same changes. The revised agreements ensure that a proposed satellite casino the tribes want to build in East Windsor to compete with MGM Resorts’ casino in Springfield, Massachusetts, will not compromise the state’s current revenue-sharing arrangement with the tribes.
INMATES PLEAD FOR PAROLE
More than two dozen Connecticut inmates convicted of serious crimes as juveniles have had the opportunity to plead for parole for the first time. The Board of Pardons and Paroles held 22 hearings in 2016 and 13 so far in 2017. Seventeen were paroled; 18 denied. The board had identified 210 former juveniles who qualified for these “juvenile reconsideration hearings.” A 2015 Connecticut law required a new parole eligibility system for people who committed a crime while under 18, were sentenced to 10-plus years, and were incarcerated on or after Oct. 1, 2015. It retroactively eliminated life sentences for other offenders of serious crimes as juveniles.
RI GAS PRICES
Gasoline prices in Rhode Island have inched up another two cents per gallon. AAA Northeast said that even though self-serve, regular is up to an average of $2.28 per gallon, it remains 4 cents per gallon lower than the national average. A year ago, the average price in Rhode Island was 8 cents lower at $2.20 per gallon. AAA says higher crude oil prices have joined with strong demand to push prices higher at the pump.