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CT’s Public Financing Election Law in Jeopardy?

The Connecticut GOPís proposed state budget would eliminate the Citizens Election Program. (jglazer75/Wikimedia Commons)
The Connecticut GOPís proposed state budget would eliminate the Citizens Election Program. (jglazer75/Wikimedia Commons)
May 15, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Good government groups are saying 'no' to GOP plans to scrap Connecticut's campaign-funding system.

The Citizens Election Program, or CEP, was passed in 2005 in the wake of a corruption scandal that put former governor John Rowland in prison. Saying they need to close the state's looming $350 million budget gap, Republican legislators have eliminated the CEP from their proposed budget.

But Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group, said he believes Gov. Dannell Malloy - the first governor elected under the program - won't let that happen.

"It would be a terrible legacy to oversee the destruction of a program that both saved the state money and had us no longer being referred to as 'Corrupticut' whenever people wrote about us, because of the high level of corruption,” Swan said.

Republicans claim revisions to the program have created so many loopholes that it's no longer effective.

Swan said he also doesn't agree with some of the changes made since the law first passed, but he said the state is no longer experiencing such scandals as the Juvenile Training School or the redevelopment of downtown Hartford that occurred under Rowland.

"All were tainted by signs of corruption. We haven't had anything like that since that time,” he said. "All of those save the state money - more than it costs."

And, Swan noted, the $20 million allocated to the CEP each year doesn't come from tax revenues.

"It actually comes from unclaimed assets, like bank accounts that have no owner,"he said. "Those things have always gone to the state. And also the unclaimed bottles.”

More than 80 percent of state elected officials now in office participated in the Citizens Election Program, Swan added.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT