MALLOY CALLS FOR TOLLS, GAS TAX HIKE
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has proposed reinstating highway tolls and increasing the state gas tax by 7 cents to help pay for improvements and maintenance to roads and bridges. The Democratic governor announced his transportation plan Wednesday. He said it would prevent fare increases and service reductions on rail lines and bus routes. Malloy is calling for statewide electronic tolling beginning in July 2022. He also wants a $3 per tire fee on tire purchases. The governor said the money is needed because the state’s transportation fund is expected to go into deficit this year. That has forced officials to suspend more than $4 billion in transportation projects. Tolls were eliminated in Connecticut following a crash at an Interstate 95 tollbooth in Stratford in 1983 that killed seven people.
MEETING, BUT NO VOTE
North Stonington residents will not be voting tomorrow night on a proposed halt to a school building project. Town officials say a meeting to discuss the issue will go on as scheduled, but will instead adjourn to a referendum, which most likely will be held next week. Officials say a petition has been filed calling for the referendum. Two petitioners are seeking a re-vote of a 38-million dollar school improvement project that was approved by just three votes in May, 2016. Town officials say stopping the project now means North Stonington would be obligated to pay some 4-point-5 million dollars in costs with nothing in return. Tomorrow night’s town hall meeting begins at 7 at the Wheeler High School Gymnatorium.
MEDICARE FUNDING RESTORED
By overwhelming majorities, the Connecticut General Assembly today over-rode a veto from the governor, and restored funding to a program that helps poor seniors and disabled people pay Medicare health coverage premiums. The funding runs through the end of the current fiscal year. Democratic Senate President Martin Looney says the outcry about earlier cuts to the program shows that Connecticut residents need a higher level of benefits than the national average. Governor Dannel Malloy accused lawmakers of paying for the Medicare Savings Program funding by double-counting savings elsewhere, and worsening the deficit.
NEW UNITED WAY CHAIRMAN
The chairman of the Mashantucket-Pequot Tribal Council has been elected to lead the board of directors for the local United Way chapter. Rodney Butler succeeds Charter Oak Federal Credit Union president and chief executive officer Brian Orenstein in the leadership role. Butler has served as the United Way’s vice-chairman for two years, after first being elected to the board of directors in 2009.
PUERTO RICAN VOTER DRIVE
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Connecticut’s chief elections officer says her office will assist efforts to register hurricane-displaced Puerto Ricans to vote in upcoming elections. Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Wednesday her office will work with community groups and lawmakers to identify and sign up eligible voters. Thousands of Puerto Ricans have relocated to the U.S. mainland since Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September. An estimated 4,000 have come to Connecticut. Advocacy groups have been working in states including Florida to register the new arrivals to vote. Islanders are U.S. citizens, but are barred from voting for president unless they live on the mainland. Merrill said registration is important for civic engagement and to give the newcomers a say in public affairs, including the federal government’s relief work on the island.
OVERDOSE VICTIM I.D.
The identity of a man who died from an apparent drug overdose in New London has been released. Police say 55-year old Angel Luis Santiago was found unresponsive Monday morning in a stairway at the Thames River Apartments on Crystal Avenue. Police say Santiago didn’t respond to two doses of the antidote Narcan, and was taken to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Santiago’s last known address is the city’s Homeless Hospitality Center. Police continue to investigate.