Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you in the CT General Assembly. It is an honor to serve you in the legislature.

At the start of my second term, I was honored to be appointed chair of the Commerce Committee in addition to my duties on the Higher Education and Public Safety committees.

As Commerce Chair, I worked diligently on a number of bills that support business growth and job creation in our state. I personally introduced in the House, and helped pass 15 bipartisan, pro-business bills. These measures include:

  • Expansion of the Angel Investor Tax Credit program. The bill encourages more investment in CT companies and also allows more start-ups to gain access to capital.
  • Fought to expand business development policies that helped bring 700 new jobs to Stamford at Indeed and Henkel.
  • Expansion of the Small Business Express program. It allows small businesses to gain access to affordable office space as well as small loans that help businesses grow and create jobs.
  • Expanded workforce development training programs and partnerships between our technical high schools, community colleges and businesses that ensure students graduate with the skills needed to fill jobs in CT.

In a difficult fiscal year, I fought hard to preserve funding for Stamford and helped secure $11.2 million in education funding for next year (an increase of $400,000) and $19 million in town aid to help fix our roads.

I also worked hard this session on initiatives that make college more affordable; to make CT more affordable for seniors by exempting Social Security benefits from the state income tax; to protect Stamford Hospital from a tax increase; to preserve funding for the Departments of Social Services and Developmental Services; and to secure critical education funding for Stamford schools.

I strongly believe in bipartisanship and the need to attack the problems facing our state rather than attacking each other. That is why I supported more than a dozen bipartisan bills and continued my membership in the bipartisan young legislator’s and women’s caucuses.

As your State Representative, I promise to keep up the fight for the people of Stamford and our state. If you have any feedback, contact me anytime on my personal cell phone at 203-962-4619 or email me at caroline.simmons@cga.ct.gov. I would love to hear from you.

Sincerely,


Education

Supporting Stamford Schools: Supporting Stamford schools continues to be one of my top priorities. I find it rewarding to visit our schools for meetings with students, teachers, administrators and principals. Given the $3.5 billion deficit our state faced this year, many towns faced drastic cuts. I fought hard to preserve funding for Stamford schools and I’m proud to report the city will receive $10.8 million in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding in FY17 and FY18 and $11.2 million in ECS funding in FY19, an increase of $400,000. I also fought against the Governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs to towns – a move that would have resulted in a substantial property tax increase.

Universal Pre-K and Early Child Literacy: I sponsored and helped pass two bills on pre-K and literacy. One expands K-3 reading readiness programs to ALL school districts while another requires the state to develop a plan to provide pre-K to all 3 and 4 year olds in CT by July 2022.

Reducing Student Loan Debt: I fought for passage of a bill for student loan forgiveness programs to make college more affordable. I also supported new policies allowing students to refinance their loans at a lower rate. For more information on this program contact CHESLA at: 860-520-4001 or CT Toll Free: 800-252-3357.

Workforce Development to Prepare Students for Manufacturing and STEM Jobs: CT manufacturers will need to fill more than 10,000 jobs by 2020. To help them accomplish this, I introduced and advocated for a bill that expands the manufacturing talent pipeline by improving the curriculum at our technical high schools and colleges with industry needs.


Business Growth and Job Creation

Fiscal Responsibility: For the first time in many years we passed a bipartisan state budget. It finally addresses overspending by placing a cap on spending and bonding – issues that date to 1992. We also implemented performance informed budgeting, and a three-year wage and hiring freeze so we can get our fiscal house in order.

Small Businesses and Job Creation: I introduced and successfully helped pass: a bill expanding the Angel Investor Tax Credit program; expansion of the Small Business Express program; creation of a small business hotline; a “Made in CT” designation to encourage CT manufactured products; a workforce development bill to better train our students for 21st century engineering and manufacturing jobs; and I fought for policies that helped bring over 700 new jobs to Stamford at Henkel and Indeed.

Reducing Taxes and Certain Regulations on Businesses: I sponsored legislation to eliminate the business entity tax and fought against a proposed sales tax increase and new business taxes. I also worked with the CT Business and Industry Association to reduce certain burdensome, redundant, and outdated regulations on businesses.

Protecting Stamford Hospital: I fought against a tax increase and against cuts to Stamford Hospital. I also greatly enjoyed participating in the Stamford Hospital Hope in Motion Run and the Stamford Hospital Foundation’s Women’s Wellness Luncheon to support important programs at our hospital.


Public Safety

Addressing Opioid Addiction: I was proud to sponsor and help pass legislation that aims to reduce opioid addiction by placing restrictions on opioid prescriptions, and raising awareness to the dangers of opioid addiction.

Safe Drinking Water: Ensuring our drinking water is safe and healthy for consumption is critical. That is why I sponsored legislation implementing recommendations to protect the safety of our drinking water in CT and to remove lead from our water.

Transportation Improvements: I fought for over $19 million in town aid to help fix Stamford roads, bridges, rails, and other projects. I also supported legislation calling for more oversight of DOT, and a transportation lockbox to protect funds designated for actually fixing our roads, instead of being diverted for other purposes.


Making CT More Affordable for Seniors

Exempting Social Security from the Income Tax for Our Seniors: We are one of only 13 states that taxes social security income. I believed this was an unfair burden on our seniors. I am proud to have sponsored and helped pass a new policy exempting social security from the state income tax starting in 2019.


Capitol Update 2017 (pdf)