Funding of early childhood education programs, the debate over online gambling and the Senate race top the political news coming out of Hartford.
On Thursday, Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed spending $12 million to improve and expand access to early childhood education, an initiative that he has talked about in the past.
As part of his proposal, $4 million would go toward opening up 500 new preschool spots, $3 million in incentives and other programs aimed at improving the quality of teachers and $5 million for a rating system to help parents gauge early childhoold education options for their children.
“When I was mayor of Stamford, we led the way in making pre-k available to every child," Malloy said in a statement announcing the proposal. "Every childhood provider and the educators who run their programs need and deserve more support from the state."
Some of the proposals, particularly the implementation of the rating system, are intended to improve Connecticut's chances for "Race to the Top" federal funds, which the state lost out on because they didn't have such programs in place, officials said.
While the early childhood education initiative was being proposal, officials appeared to be hitting the brakes on another proposal having to do with legalizing online gambling.
The governor told the Hartford Courant that his administration did not intend to submit an Internet gambling bill this legislative session, although he said the discussion needed to occur particularly because tens of thousands of people are employed in the state's casino industry.
"I think it's highly appropriate that a discussion be had about that subject lest we lose thousands of those tens of thousands of jobs," Malloy told the Courant.
The announcement was well received by legislators, such as Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield, Newtown, Easton).
"I don't believe that putting a 24/7 electronic casino in every house in CT so the government can profit from it is the way to solve our budget crisis," McKinney told the Courant.
Meanwhile, the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Joe Lieberman is heating up. Republican Linda McMahon apparently contacted rival Chris Shays' to ask for three debates, though Shay's campaign would rather have 10, according to the Courant.
The Connecticut Mirror reported McMahon, who ended last year with $227,000 in cash on hand, trails the fundraising race behind Shays, who reported $317,000, as of the last campaign filing. McMahon also is well behind four Democrats – Rep. Chris Murphy (D-5), who raised $2.5 million last year, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysciewicz, with $900,000 and State Rep. William Tong, of Stamford, with $280,000, according to the Connecticut Mirror.