Capitol Week in Review: A regional approach to legalizing marijuana and faster trains to New York City – Hartford Courant

State Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Branford, has been named executive director of Tweed New Haven Airport, succeeding another lawmaker, former state Sen. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, who left the job in February to lead the state Office of Higher Education. “New Haven has so much to offer and the airport has a huge role to play re: growing Southern CT’s economy,” Scanlon tweeted. He’ll keep his job as a state representative but will leave Murphy’s office after spending a decade as a staffer there. The appointment comes as Tweed is continuing efforts to extend its main runway to expand passenger service. The airport recently won a key court decision paving the way for expansion. … A Morning Consult survey released Thursday found Lamont was the nation’s fifth-most unpopular governor, with an approval rating of 35% and a disapproval rating of 48%. The remaining 17% were undecided. The survey was conducted from July 1 through Sept. 30 and tracks with a Hartford Courant/Sacred Heart University poll that found 47% of respondents disapproved of how Lamont is handling his job. That poll, conducted in mid-September through early October, found just 24% of respondents approved of how Lamont is doing and that 29% were undecided. … A new report from the conservative Yankee Institute thinktank says that the state’s teachers’ pension fund is still in trouble, even after recent changes made by the state legislature. The fund “has the potential to fail current and future retirees if it is not equitably and carefully reformed — soon,” the 25-page report warns. Two chief concerns raised in the report are underfunding of the pension system (there is only 52 cents on hand for each dollar owed in future benefits) and the fact that teachers must work 10 years to receive a pension. That, coupled with the fact that Connecticut teachers don’t pay into Social Security, means young teachers who leave the profession after less than a decade are departing with no retirement benefits. The study proposes a 401(k)-style retirement plan that would be portable to another job. … The state Department of Labor reported Thursday that Connecticut gained 3,600 jobs in September, but the statistics came with a “wait and see” warning from a state economist who said many of the gains were tied to back-to-school hiring at universities and colleges, private schools, academies and transportation companies that bus students. “We will have to wait and see if this level holds up in future months,” said Andy Condon, research director at the labor department. Connecticut has recovered 85.1% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession and trails most states and the U.S. in job creation. The state’s private sector has fully recovered from the recession and expanded slightly, at 105.6%, but a large reduction in government jobs at the state and local level has pulled down the overall number. … Former state Sen. Billy Ciotto was the recipient of the inaugural “Biagio ‘Billy’ Ciotto Public Service Award” at a reception Tuesday hosted by Rocky Hill Democrats. Ciotto, who will turn 90 on Christmas Day, worked for the state Department of Motor Vehicles for 42 years and has his name on the agency’s headquarters building in Wethersfield. A lawmaker for a dozen years, Ciotto was known as one of the more colorful members of the General Assembly. He continues to work part time in U.S. Rep. John Larson’s Hartford office and attended House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s swearing-in ceremony in January. “I love public service,” Ciotto told The Courant’s Christopher Keating. The award will be presented on an annual basis going forward.