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Sound Bites: Connecticut paraeducators to receive relief on health insurance costs

Rick Bowmer

Good Morning. Connecticut will allocate $5 million to help paraeducators, who provide direct support to teachers and students, particularly in special education programs, pay for health insurance costs.  

The governor’s state budget included a subsidy program as a one-time payout to help pay for up to three quarters of out-of-pocket health care costs. 

There are about 12,000 paraeducators in the state, according to State Comptroller Sean Scanlon’s office. Most of them get some kind of health benefits. However, 4,000 paraeducators will receive the subsidy. 

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

Gilgo Beach murder suspect Rex Heuermann is being sued by the state of New York for unpaid wages owed to an ex-employee of his Manhattan architecture firm, R H Consultants. The state labor department claims in court documents that Heuermann agreed two years ago to pay his former employee almost $85,000 in unpaid wages, interest and penalties — but only paid about $16,000 of the amount due.

Fairfield County’s demographics are changing, according to the state Department of Labor. There are more Hispanic and Black residents participating in the workforce, while the white labor force has declined. Over 225,000 people who live in the county were born outside of the country, an 82% increase since 2005.

Nassau County legislator Josh Lafazan wants to remove elected officials' names from county signs. The legislation comes as County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican, is under scrutiny for spending taxpayer dollars to install large signs barring his name. The county updates hundreds of these signs every two years when new officials are elected. Lafazan (D-Woodbury) hopes to redirect the funds to other dire county projects since residents can easily look up officials online.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is trying to keep UConn’s Fairfield County Extension Center from being evicted from its Bethel location. In 2022, Stony Hill Preserve Inc. terminated UConn’s property lease, claiming the property is underutilized. Tong began defending UConn in August on the grounds that the eviction violated the property’s charitable use restrictions. UConn plans to motion to dismiss the eviction in state Superior Court on Sept. 27.

Suffolk County small businesses and nonprofits may apply to receive additional funding from the new JumpSMART Small Business Downtown Investment Program this week. Organizations may receive up to $25 million in grants for projects that support the growth and success of local downtowns. The funds come from $286 million received for the county’s COVID-19 relief funding. Businesses can apply for the program through Sept. 29.

The Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter got  an “unsatisfactory” rating from state inspectors for the second time in two months. The New York state Department of Agriculture and Markets found issues with exposed wiring and water damage that had not been addressed since their previous visit. Feces-filled cages, mold and sewage backups were some of the issues volunteers brought to the town’s attention earlier this summer. The shelter placed 208 dogs and 150 cats in new homes in 2022.

Meriden, Connecticut’s school bus driver strike ended on Tuesday. Bus union Teamsters Local 671 and New Britain Transportation voted to accept a temporary deal that will give drivers a 6% raise to their hourly rate. Meriden's bus drivers went on strike on Friday after their previous contract with New Britain ended, seeking higher wages, paid holidays, health care, and 401k contribution. Once the temporary deal ends, Meriden will accept bids for a new bus company.

Two hundred new child care spots were made available at 12 State University of New York campuses. Governor Kathy Hochul made the spots available after awarding SUNY community colleges $1.72 million to improve the centers and support working families. Last school year, SUNY offered 4,500 child care spots and served nearly 800 student-parents, faculty, and community members.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.