Government in Transition



Connecticut Government in Transition - February 4, 2019


The Center of Public Policy and Social Research (CPPSR), the O’Neill Endowed Chair in Public Policy and Practical Politics, the CCSU Student Government Association and the Educational Opportunity Program conducted a post-election forum entitled Connecticut Government in Transition, focused on transition issues and policy planning in Connecticut’s executive and legislative branches of government.

The forum was held on February 4, 2019 on the campus of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain between the hours of 9:30 AM and 12 noon. The event was open to the public.

In attendance were many of Connecticut’s most prominent political leaders, including:

  • Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz,
  • Speaker of the House Joseph Aresimowicz,
  • State Senate Chief Deputy Majority Leader Gary Winfield (representing State Senate President Martin Looney),
  • House Republican Leader Themis Klarides,
  • Assistant State Senate Republican Leader George Logan (representing State Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano).

CCSU President Zulma Toro delivered opening remarks.

The moderators were:

  • Steve Kliger, Executive Director, CPPSR,
  • Kristina Vakhman, News Editor of the CCSU student newspaper The Recorder,
  • Roshanay Tahir, Chair of the Student Government Association External Affairs Committee.

Also supervising the forum was the O’Neill Endowed Chair Holder, Don DeFronzo.

Student Focused and Student Activated Programs

One underlying purpose of such an event is the development of student-focused and student activated programs. Consistent with this approach, CCSU Student Government Association (SGA) representatives were given a substantial role in helping develop and implement the forum. Kristina DeVivo, Treasurer of SGA and the Student Policy Research assistant for CPPSR and the O'Neill Chair provided welcoming remarks on behalf of the SGA.

In addition, student involvement included:

  • Research of critical public policy issues facing the state during the upcoming legislative session,
  • Drafting of non-partisan questions to be asked of panelists
  • preparation of invitations,
  • selection of the moderators,
  • development of forum format and program logistics,
  • public relations,
  • preparation and design of forum agenda and related materials.

The Format

Each government leader was allotted 10 minutes to speak, with a focus on their assessment of the 2018 elections, the most critical challenges facing our state, and the priorities and initiatives for each of their caucuses and the Governor’s Office. The initial comments were followed by questions from the panel with 1-minutes responses. Then there was an exciting and fast-paced  “Lightning Round” of policy issues presented, requiring a 30-second response, on the topics below:

  • Mental Health,
  • Mass Transportation,
  • Recreational Marijuana,
  • President Trump,
  • Opioids,
  • Minimum Wage,
  • State Services,
  • Sports Betting,
  • Unfunded Debt.

Pictured left to right: Treasurer of Student Government Association and Student Research Assistant at CPPSR Kristina DeVivo, CPPSR Executive Director Steven Kliger, CCSU President Zulma R. Toro, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and O’Neill Endowed Chair Holder Donald J. DeFronzo.

From left: CPPSR Student Research Assistant, Kristina DeVivo; CPPSR Executive Director, Steven Kliger; CCSU President, Zulma R. Toro; Lieutenant Governor, Susan Bysiewicz; and O’Neill Endowed Chair Holder, Donald J. DeFronzo.


The Outcome

CCSU President Zulma Toro said in her opening forum comments that:

“following the results of the 2018 state-wide elections, Connecticut is entering into an important period of transition in public policy. With the election of a new governor and many new legislators, and with so many critical challenges on the horizon, Connecticut may be experiencing an unprecedented period of government transition.”

This forum provided insights into how newly elected state government leaders would identify and address the key issues and priorities most important to the CT electorate.