Friday November 30, 2012

Dean-founded group petitions on budget

BURLINGTON (AP) -- A group founded by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is joining forces with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the budget debate now under way in Washington.

South Burlington-based Democracy for America, which Dean founded in 2004, joined Sanders on Wednesday in calling for people to sign a petition against cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

They’re also urging Senate Democrats to reject any deal that extends the Bush-era tax cuts for households earning more than $250,000.

DFA says it hopes to collect 50,000 signatures on a petition to present to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Vermont to do random audit of voter tabulator results

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the state’s election division will be doing a random audit of voter tabulator results in the recent election.

On Thursday, the votes in the races for U.S. representative and Vermont state treasurer in the towns of Barre Town, Brandon, Essex and Newfane will be hand counted.

Condos says ensuring that the election process is both honest and accurate is as important as voting itself.

Mass. AG focused on job, but won’t rule
out other runs

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says she’s focused on her day job, but wouldn’t rule out a future run for governor or U.


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S. Senate.

Coakley told reporters Thursday she feels very lucky to be attorney general even as speculation swirls about other political contests, including the 2014 governor’s race or a another special Senate election if Sen. John Kerry is appointed to an Obama cabinet post.

Coakley, a Democrat, said right now she’s thinking about her next two years and potentially running for attorney general again.

But Coakley, who lost a 2010 special Senate election to Republican Scott Brown, also said every race is different and if Kerry’s seat opens up she’ll decide whether to rule out a campaign then.

Coakley made the comments at a meeting of the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association on Thursday.

New Maine budget figures will mean program cuts

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) -- The Maine Legislature’s outgoing Appropriations Committee is going to meet for the last time, and it won’t be a very pleasant session.

The budget reviewing committee on Thursday is to be presented with revised figures showing smaller revenues over the next 2 1/2 years. It’s due in large part to the sluggish economy, which impacts consumer spending.

For the present fiscal year, which ends June 30, revenue forecasters are downgrading earlier estimated by $35 million. And for the next two years, fiscal 2014 and 15, they’re reduced by $60 million and $68 million respectively.

The lower estimates mean that state government will have less money to authorize for services.

The immediate $35 million shortfall could result in a curtailment order from Gov. Paul LePage.

Conn. seeks $3.2B
for infrastructure after storm damage

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says he will seek $3.2 billion from the federal government to improve the state’s infrastructure following damage from a series of hard-hitting storms.

The governor says Connecticut may not have been affected as severely as New York or New Jersey by Superstorm Sandy, but the state suffered significant damage from that storm as well as Hurricane Irene and the snow storm that hit in October of last year.

He says the three storms combined caused more than $1 billion in damage to the state.

The bulk of the money requested by the governor would go toward upgrading power transmission systems, moving power lines underground and other infrastructure improvements.

Malloy said he informed the state’s congressional delegation Thursday of his plans to submit the requests.

Malloy announces $170 million in
Conn. budget cuts

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is unveiling $170 million in spending reductions across state agencies, the first part of a plan to close Connecticut’s current $365 million budget shortfall.

The Democrat released the list Wednesday. It includes nearly $161 million worth of reductions to executive branch agencies that range from a $33,957 cut to the governor’s office to a $32.2 million reduction at the Department of Social Services.

Malloy has the statutory authority to rescind up to five percent of any budget line and three percent of any fund without legislative approval.

The governor’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said legislative leaders have also agreed to $3 million in reductions while the Judicial Branch has agreed to $5.75 million.

A plan to address the remaining $195 million shortfall is expected next month.