This year’s legislative session has concluded. We passed new legislation that will shape our state for years to come. The headline from the session was the passage of a bipartisan budget, the second in two years.
We worked on policies that support small businesses, improve workforce development and make our state a place we can proudly raise our families. Senator Looney, the New Haven Delegation and I are committed to fighting for you to build a bright future for Connecticut and New Haven.
I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of service to you or your family. It is such an honor to serve our community.
The bipartisan budget agreement restores funding to the Medicare Savings Program and maintains the “Rainy Day” fund reserves at the highest level in over a decade. In addition, the agreement does not increase income, sales or other state taxes. Other highlights include:
- Restores funding to the Medicare Savings and Renter’s Rebate Programs.
- Restores $12 million to the Husky A healthcare program which assists more than 13,000 people, many living here in New Haven.
- Provides additional education and other aid for displaced residents arriving from Puerto Rico.
- Prevents bus and rail service cuts, any fare increases and keeps transportation projects on track.
- Maintains reserves in the “Rainy Day” Fund at the highest level in over a decade (over $1 billion for the biennium).
Protecting the Quinnipiac River
Earlier this session, in response to citizen concerns, I worked with Senator Looney to amend legislation in the Environment Committee to designate the area between the Quinnipiac River and Mill River, south of I-91, as a state refuge for wildlife. This was a result of public concern expressed at my office hours about hunting in such close proximity to a residential neighborhood and hiking trail. Concerns were also expressed by the New Haven Police department who are called in response to gunshots which diverts them from where they are truly needed. The legislation ended up not being necessary as we were able to successfully work with the DEEP which has agreed to a one year moratorium to close off hunting to this portion of the Quinnipiac River until they can conduct a comprehensive review and address safety concerns.
Restoring the Fort Hale Park Pier
In April we were able to celebrate the grand reopening of the Fort Hale Park Pier located on the New Haven Harbor. Six years ago, Tropical Storm Irene destroyed this popular East Shore gathering spot, which was able to be rebuilt with $1.8 million Sen. Looney was able to help secure. The pier now extends 360 feet (10 feet longer than before) features a 140-foot walkway and a 40-foot-wide octagonal space, which will serve as a new gathering space. I am glad that we were able to have the Fort Hale Park Pier rebuilt so that it can keep this great tradition alive for future generations.
This session, I worked in the Public Safety and Security Committee with both the New Haven and Bridgeport legislative delegations to pass a bill in the House that would create an open and competitive process for private or tribal entities to submit qualifying bids to develop and operate a casino gaming facility in our state. I expect that an open and competitive process for another casino in our state will create thousands of jobs during both the construction phase and when the entity opens. For New Haven, this will build on all of the workforce development programs we already have in place and could mean hundreds of good jobs for our residents. The bill was not called for a vote in the Senate, but we hope to build on momentum to further invest in economic development in our area of the state.
Developing the New Haven Port Authority
Connecticut’s deep water ports are extremely valuable, but are still underutilized. We need to make sure we are taking full advantage of New Haven’s strategic location near Long Island Sound. Recently we received some great news that the New Haven Port Authority was granted $500,000 in state bond funding to help build their master plan and improve connections to our freight rail system. This will greatly assist the Port Authority in its mission to spur economic development in this vital harbor area. This will also assist with the flow of commerce and by having infrastructure in place to transport goods back and forth benefiting local businesses and creating jobs in the industry.
Women continue to earn less than men. This inequity is perpetuated by the practice of asking for salary history during the hiring process, ensuring that women who were underpaid at their first job continue to be underpaid. This session, I supported legislation that strengthens our pay equity laws by preventing employers from asking about wage history.
Restoring MSP, Renter’s Rebate and Reducing Prescription Drug Costs
Realizing the high costs that citizens, particularly seniors pay for healthcare, we restored full funding to the Medicare Savings Program that helps low-income elderly individuals and the disabled pay for the cost of medicine and health care premiums. We also restored funding for the Renter’s Rebate program and transferred responsibility for the program back to the State. We also passed legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by increasing transparency and requiring them to explain large price increases for drugs that have a substantial cost to the state. By collecting more data and holding drug companies accountable we can take steps to lowering prescription drug costs for Connecticut residents.
Supporting Small Business
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. In an effort to provide some tax relief so small businesses can put more resources into job creation, we exempted from the property tax equipment worth less than $250 that has been owned by the business for more than 10 years. Continuing our efforts to encourage students to consider careers in manufacturing, we are working to develop mobile manufacturing training labs that will visit middle and high schools to educate students about advanced manufacturing.
Investing in Middle Class Families
We also continued to work with the business community on earned family leave. Every working person in Connecticut should be allowed to take paid time off when they or a loved one gets sick. In addition, I supported a proposal to raise the minimum wage, so no one who works full time lives in poverty. Unfortunately, neither of these proposals had sufficient support to become law this session. These policies are essential and I will keep working on them.