government

MetroHartford Alliance

Connecticut’s state budget faces a series of problems that have been building for some time. It’s why the Office of Fiscal Analysis shows looming budget deficits in the next two fiscal years.

But we’re not alone. A study of several states shows some of the same trends: Medicaid costs growing faster than states can raise money, which means less funding for education; the federal government cutting aid to states in an effort to cut their own deficits; reliance on volatile tax structures and massive underfunding of public pensions.

This post was updated at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who has described Moscow's military intervention in the Crimea an "incredible act of aggression," will travel to Ukraine's capital on Tuesday to meet with the country's embattled government.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday that Kerry "will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine's new government, leaders of the Rada [Ukraine's parliament], and members of the civil society."

This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.

Uma Ramiah

After recent anti-government protests in Venezuela, Amnesty International has issued an urgent call for action on behalf of an opposition leader with ties to Yale University. An arrest order has been issued for Carlos Vecchio.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Ten years after being elected President Pro Tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, Don Williams announced he will not seek re-election this fall. The Brooklyn Democrat has served in the state senate since 1993.

Williams is the longest-serving president of Connecticut's Senate chamber and took the job during the political shuffle following Governor John Rowland's resignation.

C-SPAN

For months, reporters have been asking Governor Dannel Malloy if he is running for re-election this year. On Sunday, he shared his future plans: He is not running for president in 2016.

Oh.

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we'll talk about Malloy's trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Governors Association meetings where he got into a well-publicized spat with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Closer to home, another investigation is taking place at the state capitol involving the use of a printer in Florida for campaign materials.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

Huge protests have engulfed Venezuela for several weeks now. The protests started with students and expanded to the middle class. Venezuelans angered by an economy in freefall, high inflation, and soaring rates of crime. At least 15 people have been killed and about 150 injured during the demonstrations.

Viktor Yanukovych, ousted Saturday from his post as president of Ukraine, is now wanted by authorities in his country on charges of mass murder, the acting interior minister says.

This post was updated at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Ukraine's parliament has voted to push President Viktor Yanukovych out of office hours after he fled the capital and denounced events in the country as "a coup d'etat" in a television interview.

Iowa was one of the few states that saw voter turnout increase in 2012. Brad Anderson is proud of the role he played in encouraging turnout there as state director of President Obama's campaign.

Now he's running for secretary of state, which would put him in charge of overseeing elections.

"I have a plan to make Iowa No. 1 in voter turnout," Anderson says.

We're updating this post as the day continues.

In what could be a major move toward ending the violence in the streets of his capital, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the anti-government opposition reached agreement Friday on a deal to hold new elections, form a unity government and restore a constitution drafted in 2004.

Some details have yet to be spelled out. But the BBC sums up the news this way:

Marc Moss / Creative Commons

Keno in Connecticut may be over before it begins.

Less than a year after a Keno bill passed the legislature in the eleventh hour, and was signed into law by Governor Dannel Malloy, legislative leaders are making a push for its repeal, citing an improving economy.

Democratic Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey announced his support for a repeal during remarks to the Connecticut Council of Small Towns.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Once again, Connecticut’s felonious former governor is making headlines. This time, John Rowland is hiring a criminal defense attorney as officials investigate his role in the 2012 congressional campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley.

Our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse discusses this and all the week’s news from our downtown Hartford location.

This post was updated at 10:15 p.m. ET

The U.S. and the European Union are closely watching Ukraine amid news that the government was starting negotiations with opposition leaders to end the violence, which has left more than two dozen people dead since Tuesday.

A statement on the Ukrainian presidential website said:

This post was updated at 8:52 p.m. ET

Riot police stormed the main anti-government camp in central Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, on Tuesday. They fought with demonstrators armed with clubs and wearing helmets fought back. More than a dozen people were killed, including five policemen, according to AP and the BBC.

Opposition leaders met late in the day with President Viktor Yanukovych, but left without an agreement.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

On our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse, we recap Governor Dannel Malloy’s State of the State address and the proposals he laid out surrounding the state budget, education and the minimum wage. We’re joined by a panel of reporters who have spent the last week digesting the governor’s agenda.

Also, a discussion about the Olympics with a Connecticut-native who won a gold medal in women's ice hockey during the 1998 Olympics. The rivalry between the U.S. and Canada is as intense as ever and we talk about it with this Olympian.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Last week, Governor Dannel Malloy delivered his fourth State of the State address. There are numerous Republican candidates for governor who hope it's his last. The address itself outlined Malloy's wide-ranging proposals for the budget, education, and assistance for veterans.

Pretty soon, going to community college in Tennessee may become absolutely free. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam unveiled the proposal in his annual State of the State address this week.

Haslam is trying to lift Tennessee's ranking as one of the least-educated states. Less than a third of residents have even a two-year degree. But a community college free-for-all has been tried elsewhere, though not sustained, and there's always a nagging question.

"So I know you're wondering," Haslam said. "How do we pay for this?"

As the U.S. Postal Service continues to lose money each year, a new report suggests a way to add to its bottom line: offer banklike services, such as a check cashing card that would allow holders to make purchases and pay bills online or even take out small loans. The idea is to provide services that are now unavailable in many communities.

News broke this morning that President Obama will announce during his State of the Union address tonight that he's going to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage in new federal contracts.

And as stories about that were popping up on news sites, one of the president's top advisers was on Morning Edition saying that Obama has "warmed up to" the idea of using such executive orders to advance his agenda.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

If this snowstorm means a snow day, catch up on all the week's political news you may have missed. WNPR's weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse will talk about the smoke-filled rooms of one political party and the mud slinging of another. Also, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it won't hear the appeal involving former governor and current radio talk show host John Rowland. It was a decision that didn't even surprise Rowland.

What stories are you catching up on during this snowstorm?

A bipartisan group of lawmakers took the first step Thursday to patch a gaping hole in the 1965 Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court eviscerated a key part of the law that allowed for federal oversight of states with a history of ballot box discrimination.

CT-N

The Commission on Connecticut's Future met on Thursday morning to revisit economic development topics in the state. At its last meeting, economist Patrick Flaherty presented jobs data and workforce trends. Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Department of Economic Development, presented a slideshow called "Focus on Economic Growth."

Minutes of the December meeting are available here.

The biggest problem the United States faces is not unemployment or the economy — it's the country's government, according to a plurality of Americans cited in a recent Gallup poll. Among Republicans, Democrats and independents, dissatisfaction with the U.S.'s political leadership topped all other issues.

The open-ended question they answered in the monthly poll of American attitudes was, "What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?"

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The race for governor has been underway for months now. But the race for lieutenant governor is just heating up. Former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for the number two job. But why?

Also, Connecticut's former Secretary of the State Miles Rapoport was just named the new president and CEO of Common Cause. He'll join us to talk about the work that lies ahead for him.

Chion Wolf

When I first started writing about politics in Connecticut, I can honestly say that there were many more Republicans who excited my admiration than there were Democrats. It was 1979, the wave of interesting new progressive Democrats was coming, including that Bill Curry guy you hear so much about, but the entrenched Democratic leadership was anything but progressive. It was calcified, blinkered, and in too many cases, dirty. They'd had too much power for too long. 

The news from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' interviews with NPR and other news outlets — notably, how he uses a new book to criticize many in the White House — has now been widely reported.

But we also want to point to two passages in his conversation with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that particularly struck us.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says his criticism of President Obama is more nuanced than media reports about his new book, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, would have you believe.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

It’s been one month since State Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced the expansion of Open Connecticut -- an online source for state finances -- to include financial information for Connecticut’s quasi-public agencies and federal programs.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Established in 1965, the Connecticut Health and Educational Facilities Authority has earned its title as the oldest quasi-public agency in our state. Now, it’s one of eleven quasi-public entities in Connecticut, agencies like Connecticut Innovations, Inc.; the Connecticut Development Authority; the Connecticut Lottery Corporation; and the Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority -- to name a few. 

Pages