Dear Neighbor:

It has been a stressful session, but a successful one. The Connecticut economy continues to be hit by the Wall Street, big banks, and foreign investors panicking over things like the low cost of gasoline (I think that’s a good thing), the Chinese economy, and most recently the panic over the “Brexit.” These special interests refuse to restore the good, solid middle class jobs we enjoyed in the 1990s. They refuse to pay their fair share of taxes. They demand special treatment, more state services they won’t pay for, and more bail outs.

Enough!

It was a struggle, but I worked hard to make your values Connecticut’s laws, including the difficult spending cuts. For the first time since 1973, the state is spending less this year than it did last year. I used my annual survey (thank you for participating) to see that your priorities were met. That included funding Medicaid and Medicare and other health care services; increasing money to Danbury’s schools; protecting senior citizens and veterans, and even reducing prison costs. Thank you for helping me make decision making easier. 

If you have any questions on the issues I’m reporting on, or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact me. And if you ‘d like to get my regular e-mail reports, send me an email request.


Retirement Security for All

Over 600,000 private sector workers in Connecticut lack any retirement options from their employer. Many more still struggle to rebuild lost savings from the Great Recession of 2008. I supported creating a program for small businesses to offer an IRA through the state for their employees. The employee isn’t required to enroll and the coverage is at no cost to taxpayers. Small businesses that can’t afford to buy a retirement plan can now offer that benefit without the worry of adding an additional cost to doing business. (PA 16-29) 


Expanding Support for Veterans and Their Families

I expanded support for veterans returning home, veteran-owned businesses, and the families of those being deployed. I voted for legislation to connect service members with unique skills to a network that will help them find jobs quickly. I supported a preference in bidding state contracts for veteran-owned small businesses. Our state’s family and medical leave law will now allow a spouse, child, or parent of a service member called to active duty to take a leave from work. (PA 16-68, PA 16-184, PA 16-195)


Tackling Connecticut’s Opioid Epidemic

In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. To combat this crisis, I co-sponsored legislation to allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer drugs that reverse opioid overdoses, require towns to equip first responders with the reversal drug Narcan, and cap first-time opioid prescriptions at a seven-day supply. (PA 16-43)


Supporting Our Seniors

I’ve continued my efforts to protect a senior citizen’s right to live where they want to. This year, I made sure nursing home residents know their rights and available services when long-term care facilities close. I also required nursing homes to let residents pick a caregiver to help with discharge and transition back home. For our low-income seniors, those accepted to state-assisted housing can now pay their by security deposit in installments instead of all at once. (PA 16-8, PA 16-59, PA 16-74)


Tough Spending Cuts

This year we approved a balanced budget that protected working families, lived within our means and did not raise taxes. This involved making tough but responsible choices. This budget is about making the cost of living and doing business in Connecticut more affordable for everyone. This will go a long way to avoid future budgets with large deficits that would force more difficult choices. For the first time since 1973, this budget has a decrease in spending from the previous year’s budget. 

That’s why each year I use the constituent survey for your thoughts on what in the budget is important to you and what services you use I should protect. I heard you. I was able to successfully restore funding to Danbury Hospital. But we still face the challenges of an economy that changed since the Great Recession of 2008. Wall Street firms, big banks and big corporations at the root of that crash are making billions, but they are pocketing it, while small businesses are struggling to come back. Your state government has struggled to maintain the services you expect, while revenue has not returned to pre-2008 levels.


Paying For Local Services

I represent about 25,000 people, each with different priorities. This year, many of you were concerned that our state’s spending must match our ability to pay. Our budget needs to be one that lives within our means and that’s what we were able to do. The budget is balanced and under the spending cap with no new taxes, or tax increases or borrowing.


Creating Jobs in a Changing Economy

Jobs are up. More people are coming back to work. As baby boomers retire and millennials stay in school longer, working families need higher paying jobs. I fought to support companies like Danbury’s Hologic, a high tech manufacturer employing 350 people and leading our state in mammogram technology (PA 16-82). Wells Fargo’s relocation of the former GE Capital back to Danbury will be the largest of its kind to our city in years, restoring more jobs than had been lost last year.


Ending Violence Against Women

I’ve always stood for women, against domestic violence. Connecticut averaged 14 intimate partner homicides per year from 2000 to 2012 and firearms were used in 39 percent of those cases. I extended the use of a temporary restraining order to include temporary surrender of a firearm for the restraining order’s length. This new law also adds to our laws against human trafficking, shifts more criminal responsibility to people that solicit prostitution from minors and makes it easier for rape victims to ensure rapists have no “parental rights.” (PA 16-71)


Protecting our 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 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)


State Bonding For Danbury

  • $31,763,025 for the construction of the Danbury High School Freshman Academy
  • $2,000,000 for relocation and expansion of Naugatuck Valley Community  College’s Danbury Branch downtown
  • $1,710,000 for repairs and upgrades throughout the Danbury Public Schools system
  • $250,779 for Family and Children’s Aid collaboration with the Hispanic  Center of Greater Danbury for extra space