As you are likely aware, this was a long and drawn out legislative year. Facing a looming $3.5 billion budget short fall, the legislature came together to pass a bipartisan compromise budget. I, however, was one of the legislators that felt this budget did not go far enough to protect essential and successful Connecticut programs that protect our neighbors. I fear we compromised some of our competitive advantage.
The programs cut include the incredibly important Medicare Savings Program, the Green Bank, the Energy Efficiency Fund, the earned income tax credit, and millions of dollars from our higher education system.
To be fair, there were many positives in this budget, including protections to Yale-New Haven Hospital, the maintaining of the property tax credit for seniors and families with dependents, the enactment of long-term responsible budgeting measures (such as a bonding cap and improved long-term debt payment plans), and the retaining of our funding to distressed cities and towns.
That being said, I did not feel this budget achieved the appropriate balance for my constituents in East Haven and New Haven. I will work hard with legislators in the upcoming session to return funding to those vital programs. Please remember to contact me at any time if I can be of assistance regarding any issues or matters of state government, and I hope to see you in the New Year!
How I Can Help You
Serving those who serve our nation is one of my greatest honors as a representative. If you or a veteran you know is having an issue with delayed benefits, access to health care, spousal or survivor compensation, service medals or anything else, I will do my best to help.
Citizenship and Immigration Services
I can help determine the status of a delayed citizenship or visa application, help with petitions for relatives of legal residents and provide assistance obtaining a passport.
Internal Revenue Services
My office can make inquiries on the status of a delayed tax refund and help work out a payment plan for taxes owed. I’ve also assisted with IRS errors and delays caused by identity theft.
My office can help resolve problems with benefits, secure owed refunds and follow up on disability applications.
Medicare And Medicaid
I can help providers or patients with reimbursement problems, assist with getting a Medicare or Medicaid card and answer questions about enrollment.
Many New Haven green and East Haven residents attend our state schools like Gateway Community College, Southern Connecticut State University, and UConn. Making these schools more affordable for our residents is one of my top priorities. Here’s what I advocated for:
- Restored funding to the state colleges from a Republican budget that would have led to dramatic tuition rate increases and cuts;
- Created a tax credit for college graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) who stay in Connecticut to work;
- Supported a plan to reduce high administrative costs in order to focus on delivering high quality education to students;
- Cut red tape to make it easier for schools to secure goods and services.
Child Care for Working Families
The high cost of child care means having to choose between working full-time and caring for young children. That’s why I fought to ensure that the Care4Kids program was bolstered in the state budget. I want parents to have the opportunity to succeed and grow in their career paths. The program has reopened for enrollment to begin to address the 5,769 families who have been on the waiting list. This is an important program that helps families afford safe, quality child care and allows parents to remain in the workforce. Care4Kids is a win for parents, children and the economy.
Social Security Tax Exemption For Seniors
As a part of the budget, we passed a provision that will exempt more Social Security and annuity income from the state income tax starting in 2019. This will help provide much needed tax relief to those who need it most and allow them to keep more of their own money.
Saving the Renters’ Rebate
The delay in passing the state budget caused some confusion around the Renters’ Rebate program. I am proud to say with the passage of minor changes to the bipartisan budget, we have successfully resolved the issues with the Renters’ Rebate program and eligible participants will still receive a rebate similar to last year’s amount. Qualified individuals can apply to their local assessors once a year for state reimbursement for rental payments made in the preceding calendar year. Married couples can receive up to $900 and a single person will be refunded a maximum of $700 through this program.
Connecticut’s aging transportation infrastructure has a real impact on our bottom line. That’s why I pushed for a long-term plan to move more sales tax revenue into the Special Transportation Fund without raising taxes. These resources will help the fund stay solvent. There is still a lot more we need to do, but this was an important step forward.
Supporting CT’s Small Businesses
Our small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. They rely on programs like the Manufacturing Innovation Fund, the Bioscience Innovation Fund, Angel Investor Tax Credits and the Women’s Business Development Council to provide resources and guidance for growing industries and entrepreneurs. These programs are creating good jobs, and I supported keeping them intact in the budget.
Having a highly skilled workforce is critical to attracting new businesses, keeping the high-performing companies we have, and connecting our residents with good paying, quality jobs. That’s why we created a landmark initiative within the Department of Labor that will strengthen existing workforce development programs and implement new job training opportunities using a mix of public and private funds. In addition, we are moving the vo-tech schools out from under the State Department of Education so they are able to be more responsive to job market changes. These changes will make sure we have an economy that is competitive for the future.
Unfortunately, budget decisions led to cuts to important programs such as the Green Bank and the Energy Efficiency Fund. These funds help lower energy costs, support green initiatives and create good paying jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency – an industry that is growing 17 percent faster than the rest of the economy. I plan to work hard next session to ensure that our state remains on the forefront of this growing industry by restoring cuts to these programs, which have a dollar-for-dollar positive impact on the state’s economy.
Medicare Savings Program
While I respect the difficult decisions each legislator had to make during this past budget process, the cuts to the Medicare Savings Program were at the top of my list of reasons to vote against the budget. This program provides essential assistance to seniors who need this program to fill the gaps that Medicare cannot. Cuts to this program force seniors to choose between food on their shelves and essential medication. I will lobby for the return of this funding in the next legislative session so that our seniors do not have to make that choice.