As your State Representative, I am honored to serve you in the General Assembly in Hartford and I am pleased to share with you this update on the recently concluded legislative session. We worked to pass bipartisan legislation that improves the lives of working families, encourages economic growth, and makes critical investments in our state’s future.
We crafted a two-year budget that is fiscally responsible and takes care of Connecticut residents. Our budget protects seniors by maintaining Social Security and pension income tax exemptions and by rejecting an asset test for the Medicare Savings Program. We also rejected the Governor’s proposal to shift teachers’ pension costs to towns, thereby saving Norwalk and New Canaan property taxpayers from a local tax hike. I opposed proposed legislation on school regionalization, and was successful in my opposition.
We also worked to ensure that our state attracts and maintains businesses by repealing the business entity tax, expanding the Angel Investor Tax credit, and passed legislation to create a Workforce Training Authority to bring together public-private partnerships.
I’m proud to announce that our budget is already producing results. Our state’s bond rating has increased twice in four months which in turn, will lead to lower long-term borrowing costs because credit ratings agencies have upgraded the rating on our bonds. This is a sign that Connecticut is moving in the right direction.
Our future is stronger when we work together, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of help to you or your family.
Protecting Our Environment
We passed measures that move us towards a carbon neutral economy:
- Created rebate incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles to help reduce polluting emissions
- Passed legislation to authorize up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 (that is enough power to provide electricity to over 2,000 average American homes)
- Passed a statewide ban on single use plastic bags that will go into effect in 2021. In the meantime, we are allowing stores to adjust to the upcoming change by charging 10 cents per plastic bag.
Over the next two years, Norwalk will receive an additional $1.5 million in state education funding that maintains a 2017 bipartisan ECS deal ensuring that towns like Norwalk and New Canaan get their fair share of state education funding.
Included in the budget is increased funding for higher education to help stabilize tuition and improve the long-term viability of our college and university systems. It also promotes “open source” online college textbooks to reduce costs and establishes a path towards debt-free community college that will facilitate access for all students.
I fought hard against proposals to force school regionalization and championed a bill that would allow elementary schools to give students up to 50 minutes of unstructured recess time. I also sponsored a bill to create a task force to improve our laws governing dyslexia instruction.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I was heavily involved in the budget process and saw firsthand how it all fits together. This budget was not perfect, but the great benefits in it for Connecticut’s residents and businesses gave me reason to support it. Some highlights were:
- Came in under the constitutional spending cap by $200K in 2020 and $5M in 2021
- Cut spending in the executive branch expenditures and left 1,000 currently vacant positions unfilled. The total number of state employees has decreased by 21% since 2008
- Through an agreement, it funds local hospitals to expand access to healthcare and protect thousands of jobs
- Supports the start-up funding for the Paid Family Medical Leave program
- Funds the workforce development pipeline to better match our curriculum with employer needs
- Expands funding for essential programs like Husky A Medicaid and
- Meals on Wheels.
We’ve done all this without a single income tax or capital gains tax increase, without pushing teacher pension costs down to municipalities, without a statewide property tax nor significant expansion of the sales tax – all of which proposals I successfully fought against.
Promoting Business Growth
Connecticut is home to many exciting businesses and a lot of our nation’s top talent. It is essential to our economy to keep businesses in Connecticut, encourage entrepreneurship and attract new companies to our state. That is why I worked to:
- Eliminate the business entity tax
- Phase out the capital base tax on corporations
- Extend the Angel Investor Tax credit program by 5 years and increase the amount of credits that can be reserved for the program
- Join the Federal Opportunity Zone program. We identified 72 opportunity zones and will provide tax credits to businesses or projects that want to work in these areas
- Implement the Transfer Act, which shortens time for environmental audits for businesses buying property from parties that had environmental issues in the past.
Public Safety and Public Health
Common Sense Gun Reform: I am pleased to report that multiple bipartisan gun safety bills that I sponsored have been signed into law. Ethan’s Law will require that a gun be properly stored so that individuals under the age of 18 cannot access the firearm. We also passed a law that prevents people from creating “ghost guns” - these are untraceable guns and assault weapons made from parts purchased online or made on a 3D printer.
Teen Vaping: We have a youth health crisis in our country with the vaping epidemic. I am a proud sponsor of ‘Tobacco-21’ legislation that prohibits the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic delivery systems and vapor products to anyone under the age of 21.
Supporting First Responders: We passed legislation to fix workers compensation for police and firefighter first responders and I also sponsored legislation to help permanently injured police officers and other public safety employees.