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Sound Bites: Connecticut to launch Baby Bonds program in July

Michael Conroy

Good morning! Connecticut’s Baby Bonds program begins Saturday. This initiative is the first-of-its-kind in the country. 

Starting on July 1, children born into poverty will have birth medical costs covered by the state’s HUSKY Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. More than 15,000 babies are born into poverty in Connecticut annually. They will also be automatically enrolled in the bond trust and have $3,200 set aside for them.

The Office of the Treasurer manages the money, and when the child turns 18, they can claim the funds to buy a home in the state, use it to invest in a local business, pay for higher education and save for retirement.

It’s estimated that initiative participants will receive between $11,000 and $24,000 by the time they reach adulthood. The program is funded with $380 million in cash reserves. 

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

Nearly $4 million in federal funds will help plan, design and establish the Long Island Greenway-East trail. The Long Island Greenway is a project created by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land dedicated to connecting Long Island with the Empire State Trail through a 175-mile long biking and walking trail from Manhattan to Montauk. The funding will cover a 50-mile-long segment in the second phase of this project’s construction through Suffolk County.

New Haven’s second tenants union formed this week in a Chapel Street apartment complex. This coalition joined with the Connecticut Tenant Union, in response to their landlord, Ocean Management, raising rents despite neglecting maintenance and pest control. According to a letter signed by 95% of the complex’s residents, tenants had to deal with rodents, roaches, moldy walls, fire hazards, electrical issues and heating issues.

Connecticut will use $6 million from a Volkswagen settlement to fund 54 electric vehicle projects. Governor Ned Lamont said he hopes this will encourage more residents to use electric vehicles and help reduce air pollution. Transportation emissions produce 40% of the state’s greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change.

New Yorkers can now quickly update their driver’s licenses online. The state Department of Motor Vehicles launched an online license reciprocity tool this week. Newcomers to the state can access a pre-screening service to determine their eligibility and learn which documents they’ll need for the in-person visit to exchange their out-of-state license. New residents are required to have a New York drivers license within 30 days of their move.

Electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian plans to build a service center in Shelton. TD Bank Properties had sued to block Rivian, saying it would use the facility to sell vehicles, but the bank failed in appeals. Instead, Rivian said the property will be used for delivery, parts repairs and storage, and will house charging stations. The service center is expected to open by the end of this year.

The Cold Spring Hills nursing home was denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit against them. The Woodbury facility’s management was found diverting over $22.6 million in government funds from resident care to their personal accounts. New York State Supreme Court Judge Lisa Cairo ruled that the 28 entities named in the lawsuit failed to prove that they took no part in the diversion.

An East Hampton storage battery will be out of commission for months. The $55 million facility was built to handle the South Fork’s increasing power needs. It was damaged in a fire in May, causing 5,000 residents to lose power. Renewable energy company NextEra Energy and utilities company National Grid will cover battery repair costs.

Two Connecticut women finished a 5,100-mile electric vehicle road trip to 25 states. Daphne Dixon, the executive director of the Connecticut Southwestern Area Clean Cities Coalition, and intern Alyssa Murphy began their second annual Coast to Coast EV Road Trip in Sacramento, California on June 1 and ended in Norwalk. Hertz provided the duo with an electric Chevrolet Bolt EUV for their journey to demonstrate how electric vehicles have greater mileage ranges, and are cheaper to drive than fossil-fuel powered cars.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.