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Rep. Pam Staneski Op-ed: Students First, Please.

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Tis that time of the year in which we, as legislators, ready ourselves for the next regular session that begins February 7, though one could say that we never finished the last session.

While some structural changes were made last session that will help Connecticut move forward—a spending and a bonding cap—this year will continue to bring fiscal challenges with budget deficits projected in the out years.  Getting the state’s fiscal house in order must remain a priority and will require more tough choices, more restructuring, and more out-of-the-box thinking.

As Ranking Member of the Higher Education Committee, I am monitoring one such restructuring that was recently approved by the Board of Regents (the governing body of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities)—the consolidation of the community colleges from twelve separate colleges; currently acting independently of each other, to one system with twelve branches.  The plan has miles to go before it is actually implemented by its target date of July 2019, but once implemented is projected to streamline back-office services, with an annual savings of roughly $28 million.

The plan, aptly named Students First, puts students “at the center of all decisions”.   A system-wide program will allow courses taken (and passed) at any location to apply to GPA and graduation requirements, will build upon the TAP program, provide a “common general education core” for all undergraduates, streamline the financial aid application process, and eliminate duplicative fees.

However, it comes with some valid concerns such as how will the move from twelve separate accredited schools to a single system impact the colleges, how will the respective community college foundations be treated, will the unique programs developed at the respective community colleges be protected, and how will resources be allocated to the campuses?  Once these concerns are addressed, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges must approve the final document.

One of the ways to make Connecticut competitive again is to strengthen the talent pipeline.  Our community colleges play an important role in providing people with the education, skills and credentials to succeed.  The Students First plan is the first step to ensure that the community colleges remain a viable and affordable option.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions on this or other matters of concern to you: Pam.Staneski@housegop.ct.gov.

Happy New Year to all!

 

Malloy Derails Orange Train Station Plans

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ORANGE – Today, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides and State Reps. Charles Ferraro and Pam Staneski released the following statement regarding the state’s announcement to pull funding for the Orange Train Station Project.

“It is disappointing to see the Malloy Administration reverse their decision to fund the Orange Train Station design,” said the Orange House Delegation. “The mismanagement of transportation funds by Governor Malloy is now showing. The Orange Train Station would have created jobs and relieved stress placed on the Milford and West Haven Train Stations. Governor Malloy should be prioritizing transportation funding, and focusing on the busiest rail line in the country instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on a busway or new rail lines.”

Local and state lawmakers have been working on the Orange Train Station project for over a decade. Earlier this year, the state authorized funding to start design work for the Orange Train Station.

Governor Malloy recently announced that the state is running out of money to fund transportation projects. The House and Senate Republicans were able to pass a budget in September that made significant investments to the state’s aging transportation infrastructure but was vetoed by the governor.

Reps. Staneski & Ferraro Joins Bi-partisan Fire and EMS Caucus

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HARTFORD – State Reps. Pam Staneski (R-119) and Charles Ferraro (R-119) officially became members of the legislature’s bi-partisan Fire and EMS Caucus on Tuesday during the first meeting of the newly formed caucus.

“I am a big supporter of our fire and EMS services members. We, in the General Assembly need to do everything possible to help and support our brave first responders, said Rep. Pam Staneski. “They deserve the best training and the most up-to-date life-saving equipment.”

“The formation of the Fire and EMS Caucus is a great idea,” said Rep. Ferraro. “The bipartisan caucus will work together next year with our fire and EMS officers to find common ground on important legislation that will help our brave men and women that save lives daily. I will be reaching out to all of our local fire and EMS departments to make sure I get their input before the next meeting.”

Reps. Ferraro and Staneski are strong supporters of public safety officers , supporting legislation in 2016 that established a firefighter’s cancer relief program, and funding this year for regional fire training schools.

Co-chairs, State Reps. Brian Ohler and Pat Boyd announced in May their plans to form the Fire and EMS Caucus. The caucus will focus on will specific public safety issues that first responders must navigate on a daily basis.

For more information about the Fire and EMS Caucus, visit www.cga.ct.gov. Rep. Ferraro can be reached at Charles.Ferraro@housegop.ct.gov and Rep. Staneski can be reached at Pam.Staneski@housegop.ct.gov.