It is a great honor to represent you in the General Assembly. Recently I voted in favor of a bipartisan budget agreement that passed both the Senate and the House with an overwhelming majority and was signed into law by the Governor. Reaching an agreement to close a $3.5 billion budget deficit took major compromises from everyone involved. Creating a balanced, fiscally responsible budget was critical to our state’s economy.
This newsletter contains updates on the budget, structural changes to state government, and legislation we passed this year. I personally championed policy to help combat the opioid epidemic, prevent human trafficking, and support our small businesses.
As we prepare for the next legislative session, I look forward to your feedback on how we can continue to move Connecticut forward in 2018. Please feel free to reach out to my office to keep me informed of matters important to you.
Structural Changes to State Budgeting
I was proud to support a $1.9 billion cap on state bonding. This cap will help to control the projected increases in debt service payments and will require the Governor and State Bond Commission to prioritize which projects are most worthy of bonding. With this cap, and by reducing bonding this year, we expect to save nearly $30 million in debt service payments in the next fiscal year.
The budget also strengthened our existing spending cap. Under the new cap, funding for pensions, distressed municipalities, and money used to receive matching federal grants will all come under the cap over time. This is important because it more accurately reflects what we are spending as a state and will force future legislatures to prioritize spending on programs that work and that our communities need.
One of our most critical obligations as legislators is making sure that we are funding our local education system and providing our students with the supports they need. This year, we adopted a new formula for funding our schools that takes into consideration all of the factors that go into student success and ensures that every school district receives support. As of November 2017 the Governor proposed further cuts to town aid, including Education Cost Sharing dollars. However, I will fight to ensure we keep our funding.
Honoring Our Fallen Soldiers
This session, we passed legislation that allows municipalities to provide a property tax exemption to a parent or surviving spouse of a service member killed in action while performing active military duty. A municipality may exempt up to $20,000 or 10% of the property’s assessed value.
Combatting Human Trafficking
I championed legislation strengthening Connecticut’s human trafficking laws by broadening the crime of trafficking in persons to include sex trafficking and enhancing the penalty to a class A felony. The law also creates the felony crime of “commercial sexual abuse of a minor” for those who patronize or solicit minors who are trafficked for sex. It requires the state to develop a tool for identifying victims of trafficking, training for professionals (such as nurses, teachers, and counselors), and a plan for diverting victims into community-based treatment programs. The bill also requires additional businesses to post information on services for trafficking victims.
Rep. Morin testifies before the Judiciary Committee in support of enacting stricter penalties for Human Trafficking.
Fighting The Opioid Epidemic
This session, I cosponsored legislation that further strengthened our opioid overdose and addiction prevention efforts. The new legislation reduces the maximum first-time opioid drug prescription for minors from a 7-day to a 5-day supply, requires health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatment, requires medical providers to discuss opioid risks with patients, and eases restrictions to facilitate the destruction of unused medications. This bill, paired with historic legislation passed in 2016, puts Wethersfield and Connecticut on a batter track to combat this crisis.
In the April, I co-hosted a community forum to discuss the dangers of opioid addiction with Representative Tony Guerrera and the State’s Office of the Healthcare Advocate. It is my hope that this event initiated an open and honest dialogue for Wethersfield residents about this topic. Materials from the event are posted on my website.
Rep. Morin greets guests at an community opioid forum he hosted with Rep. Guerrera.
Helping Our Seniors
While we made difficult choices as part of this budget agreement, ensuring that Connecticut is an affordable and accessible place to live for our seniors was a priority of mine. The budget funds the CT Home Care Program for Elders and Dial-A-Ride, both services that allow seniors to stay in their homes for longer, rather than go into more expensive nursing home care. In addition, our budget included important steps to ease the tax burden on seniors such as keeping the $200 property tax credit and phasing out income taxes on Social Security and pensions. Moving forward, I believe these initiatives will bring greater fairness to our tax code and generate economic growth for our state.
Support For Wethersfield Businesses
The budget maintains funding for important programs such as the Bioscience Innovation Fund, Angel Investor Tax Credits, and the Women’s Business Development Council. Our small businesses depend on these programs as they provide resources and guidance for growing industries and Connecticut-based entrepreneurs.
The budget also invests in Connecticut’s Manufacturing Innovation Fund, which supports the growth of our advanced manufacturing sector by encouraging collaboration with universities; providing assistance with business development, technical needs, job training, and educational programs; and matching funds to leverage federal grants.
Transportation Project Oversight
Connecticut’s aging transportation infrastructure has a real impact on our bottom line. According to a report by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the average motorist in CT pays an extra $864 per year because of driving on roads that are in need of repair. As a member of the Transportation Committee, I am glad part of the budget includes a long-term plan to move more sales tax revenue into the Special Transportation Fund. These resources will help the fund stay solvent.