Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The two-year State Budget we passed earlier this year does a lot of good things; a plan for students to attend community college debt free, protecting the Medicare Savings program and Renters Rebate, expanding Husky A Medicaid to 4,000 people who lost coverage and increasing the Rainy Day Fund to over $2 billion.
The budget is balanced and provides fiscal stability with no increase in the income tax or broad based increase in the sales tax, while still protecting our most vulnerable citizens, investing in public schools and promoting economic growth for Connecticut.
Most importantly and of direct impact to New Haven, the budget recognizes the importance of funding our schools based on need and increases education funding to the city by $2.9 million in Fiscal Year 2020 and an additional $5.9 million for Fiscal Year 2021. This additional funding will help provide the city with much needed funding for services and some property tax relief.
In this newsletter, you will find more highlights of the state budget and other key legislation we passed this session.
As always, it is an honor and privilege to serve as your state representative please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever be of assistance.
I hope you and your family have a great holiday season and a great start to the New Year!
Highlights of the State Budget
- Protects the Medicare Savings Program, Renter’s Rebate and increases funding for Meals on Wheels
- Maintains tax exemptions for Social Security income and phase-in of a tax exemption on pension income
- Avoids a costly and disruptive nursing home strike
- Keeps the “Passport to the Parks” fund
- Protects the Care4Kids program
- Repeals the Business Entity Tax starting next year
New Haven Economic Development
It’s important for Connecticut to have vibrant cities like New Haven. To achieve this I’ve been working on job creation and the development of our deepwater ports through land conveyances and continued work to secure funding for dredging to allow more ships and commerce into New Haven harbor. We also established a new Municipal Redevelopment Authority (MRDA) to help cities develop property and promote new opportunities for employment and transportation. The MRDA will focus on transit-oriented development near bus and train stations, airports and seaports and piers. These projects have great potential benefit to our city.
East Shore Park Rehabilitation Project
Many of you will start to see exciting improvements taking place as a part of the Living Shoreline Project at East Shore Park. The city has received $4 million in grant funding, which Senator Looney and I were able to secure to build a more resilient shoreline. This project seeks to use natural marshes, dunes and native plantings to prevent further erosion. With this project, East Shore Park will become the longest stretch of living shoreline in our state. East Shore Park will also serve as an open working laboratory for those interested in learning more about green infrastructure and coastal resiliency.
Fort Hale Fishing Pier Phase Improvements
Phase II of the newly renovated Fort Hale Fishing Pier has now been completed. This great city landmark serves as a true destination for families, fishermen and tourists alike. Having experienced storm damage during both Tropical Storm Irene and Superstorm Sandy, the pier was in much need of repairs. I was very proud to have supported this rebuilding and renovation project with $1.8 million in State Bond funding that Senator Looney was able to secure. Improvements include; a 10 foot extension of the pier at a higher elevation; improved parking lot; new nighttime lighting; access to water; and enough space for instructional classes. I hope that you and your family all get a chance to visit this proud city landmark to see all the improvements very soon.
Honoring Our Men & Women in Uniform
Covering Police and Firefighters for PTSD - In my first year as Vice-Chair of the Public Safety and Security Committee, we were able to pass legislation that was six years in the making to provide workers’ compensation benefits for police officers, parole officers and firefighters suffering from PTSD due to events in the line of duty. Our first responders see violence and death on a too frequent basis and we must help them cope with the effects of these traumatic experiences. We also plan to explore extending this same law to cover EMS personnel as well next session. (Public Act 19-17)
Addressing Gun Violence
Sensible Gun Laws - The newly passed Ethan’s Law, requires the safe storage of all firearms in a home with a minor. The law was passed in memory of 15-year-old Ethan Song of Guilford, who was killed by an unsecured gun. Another law requires the safe storage of handguns in motor vehicles. This measure will reduce gun thefts from vehicles in crimes of opportunity. We also banned “ghost guns” which are untraceable, unserialized weapons sold over the internet as disassembled kits to circumvent background-check laws. This new law is already starting to have an impact in our state. (Public Acts 19-5, 19-7 and 19-6)
Mammogram coverage - This legislation will require health insurance coverage for ultrasound screenings for any woman over 40 years old who has a recommendation from her doctor, has a personal history of breast disease through the biopsy of a benign tumor, or has a family or personal history of breast cancer. It also prohibits insurers from charging co-insurance, co-pays deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses for breast ultrasounds and mammograms. (Public Act 19-117)
Preexisting Insurance Coverage - We expanded health insurance coverage for preexisting conditions. Passed unanimously, this protects Connecticut residents from any change to federal law. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, if someone had a preexisting or chronic condition, insurance companies could refuse to insure them. (Public Act 19-134)
Supporting our Seniors
Protecting Senior Programs - This session we were able to reject any cuts to the Medicare Savings Program, protect Renter’s Rebate, increase funding for Meals on Wheels and keep on schedule a phase-out of the income tax on pensions and annuities. (Public Act 19-117)
Tackling Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease - In order to ensure the proper care for seniors, we modified continuing education requirements for physicians to include diagnosing and treating cognitive conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, delirium, related cognitive impairments and geriatric depression. (Public Act 19-115)
Quinnipiac River Hunting Update
Senator Looney and I introduced legislation that would have permanently banned hunting by the Quinnipiac River in New Haven near I-91 due to public safety concerns. Although the legislation did not pass, we did learn that DEEP had also proposed regulations to ban hunting in this same area. These regulations were placed on an October 22nd Regulations Review Committee agenda along with other areas, however were referred back for revisions. We expect these regulations to still be approved to ban hunting in this area in the next few months. In the meantime, DEEP has announced another extension of temporary closure to hunting for two more years (until June 1, 2021) to give the regulations time to be adopted.
Preserving The Environment
State Water Plan - A major accomplishment of the 2019 Legislation Session was passing the State Water Plan, which protects our water supply as a “public trust” to ensure our water resources are preserved, and that clean drinking water is accessible for all. (House Joint Resolution 19-171)
Offshore Wind Energy - We have cleared the path for offshore wind energy generation so Connecticut can become a leader in green energy technology and help achieve the state’s renewable energy goals. We anticipate a positive economic impact with the creation of good-paying jobs and economic development in New London, New Haven and Bridgeport. Under this bill, Connecticut will procure up to 2,000 megawatts of offshore wind power. This will help achieve our goal of 40% renewable energy by 2030. It also includes provisions to protect and minimize impacts on the environment and fisheries. (Public Act 19-71)
Standing Up For Working Families
Paid Family Leave - No one should have to face bankruptcy because of a serious medical condition or to take care of a family member. That is why I was proud to vote in support of creating a Paid Family Medical Leave Program. The program provides replacement wages whereby employees can take time off and still make ends meet. (Public Act 19-25)
Raising Wages - I was proud to support a gradual increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 by June 1, 2023 to provide more economic security. This legislation will help over 300,000 Connecticut workers who make less than $15 an hour. The minimum wage increased on October 1 to $11 an hour and will incrementally increase over the next 4½ years. This will help stimulate our economy with more discretionary income being spent to support local businesses. After the $15 minimum is reached, future increases will be tied to the cost of living. (Public Act 19-4)