- Advocating for Workers
This was, without question, a difficult year in the Legislature. Just about everyone disliked one part or another of the budget we passed. At least we were able to pass a budget that was balanced, and included real, structural change that will help put us on a sustainable path, and we did it without borrowing and without raising taxes. And from a Hamden perspective, we did better than most: The budget included about $1.3 million in additional state funds for our town than last year, we were one of the only towns to receive an increase in ECS school funding, and every Hamden family that owns a car will see a significant tax cut on their next property tax bill.
We also made a real difference on issues important to our community. I authored and led the fight for two bills that I heard from you were important to Hamden. In the first, in response to plans announced by New Haven,
we prevented cities from charging towns like Hamden for students in their magnet schools, protecting 570 Hamden students and $1.2 million in Hamden taxpayer money. In the second, we continued the work of protecting our town’s tree canopy and its natural beauty. Please continue to let me know what issues are important to you!
As always, it has been my privilege to serve as your Representative. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Bringing Your Tax Dollars Home To Hamden
I am pleased to report that, despite passage of a state budget that reduces spending by more than $800 million, Hamden will receive more municipal aid than it did for 2016 -- at least $1.3 million more. We were one of only a handful of towns that saw a new increase in state aid. We also obtained a unique extension for Hamden to apply for priority school construction bonding to create a 21st Century Science, Technology, Engineering and Math academy at Hamden High School as well as explore other needed renovations to Hamden’s schools.
Supporting our Seniors
Last session, I worked hard to write and pass a “Bill of Rights” law for our seniors living in retirement communities, like Whitney Center, in order for them to have a voice in the management and financial health of their communities. This year, after residents contacted me, I worked with Mayor Curt Leng to make sure other senior and disabled residents at the Davenport-Dunbar apartments do not lose the critical public transportation services they rely upon to lead active lives. We also worked hard to make sure that long-term care is available for our seniors who need this type of care. I also supported a new law that lets nursing home residents know their rights and available services when long term care facilities close as well as letting nursing homes residents pick a caregiver to help with discharge and transition back home. (PA 16-8, PA 16-59)
This session I introduced and authored legislation preventing municipalities with magnet schools, like New Haven, from charging tuition to neighboring towns for their out of district student unless those host districts first obtain approval from the State Department of Education to charge tuition and then give at least a year’s advance notice to the impacted towns. This was supported unanimously, with bipartisan support from legislators representing all affected towns including New Haven, and signed into law by the Governor on June 9th. Hamden currently has about 570 students enrolled in New Haven magnet schools and with my advocacy on this issue led to New Haven withdrawing its proposal and saving Hamden $400,000 in tuition this year. This is only a first step and going into next year I expect a continued dialogue for addressing both magnet school tuition and funding for public education more broadly. (PA 16-139)
Protecting Hamden’s Tree Canopy
In 2013, I worked with many Hamden residents and neighborhood groups to write and pass a law protecting our trees from unnecessary pruning and removal by utility companies. This created a process protecting our neighborhood aesthetics, landscape, and environmental quality. This year, I strengthened the law to give more notice for when tree trimming occurs and insuring that the utility company does its part to clean up debris after pruning and removal. I am proud to say that bill was passed into law with bipartisan support by the legislature, and signed by the Governor on June 1st. While I am very happy with the provision we passed – including the notice requirement to towns – I still want us to do more in terms of overseeing and stopping the wholesale deforestation that the Department of Transportation is conducting on our state roads. The DOT has committed to work with us to develop a comprehensive plan in the near future. (PA 16-86)
Expanding Support for Veterans and Families
I expanded support for Veterans returning home, veteran-owned businesses, and the families of those being deployed. I voted to connect service members with unique skills to a jobs network to help find jobs quickly after returning home. Our state’s Family and Medical leave law will allow a spouse, child, or parent of a service member called to active duty to take a leave from work. (PA 16-68, PA 16-195)
Cancer Relief for Firefighters
Firefighters risk their lives every day to protect us, but the risk doesn’t stop once the fire is out. Each fire burns toxins that firefighters absorb increasing risk of certain cancers. Firefighters who contracted cancer used to return to work while still recovering without short term or long term disability or Social Security. I changed this by creating a self-sustaining relief fund for lost wages, without raising taxes. Volunteer and career firefighters can take the necessary time off to recover while protecting us. (PA 16-10)