Dear Neighbor:

The 2019 legislative session has drawn to a close, and we were successful in accomplishing many of the goals set out in the Democratic agenda we announced at the beginning of the year including raising wages, developing a Paid Family Medical Leave program, investing in workforce development, and passing common sense gun safety legislation.

I was proud to support a state budget that invests in education, protects our seniors and provides long-term fiscal stability. West Hartford Public Schools will receive close to $390,000 more in state aid this year, allowing us to maintain high quality schools. In addition, we reached a settlement with our hospitals and put the teacher pension fund on stronger footing - both of which will reduce long term liabilities for the state.

We took important steps to help small businesses this year. These included getting rid of the Business Entity Tax, which many small business believe to be a nuisance, and extending the Angel Investor Tax Credit to provide additional capital to local companies. These are a few of the ways I fight for you.

I appreciate hearing from all of you about the issues that matter to you. The best way to stay informed and updated on current events is to sign-up to receive my e-newsletter at housedems.ct.gov/Verrengia. You may also visit my official facebook page at facebook.com/repverrengia. As always, you can contact me anytime at 860-982-5282 or email at: joe.verrengia@cga.ct.gov.

Sincerely,


Budget

Our biennial budget was delivered on time, under the constitutional spending cap and includes important advancements like a plan for debt-free community college and exempting social security from the income tax. We successfully pushed back on Governor Lamont’s proposal to increase taxes on seniors. The budget provides fiscal stability with no increases in income tax rates, no broad based increases in sales tax rates, and no cuts to municipal aid. It is balanced now, and protects taxpayers into the future.
 
Budget Highlights:

  • Maintains the tax exemptions for Social Security income and the phase-in of a tax exemption on pension income to make CT more affordable to seniors
  • Avoids a costly and disruptive nursing home strike
  • Keeps the “Passport to the Parks” funded
  • Increases education funding
  • Protects the Care4Kids program
  • Re-opens highway rest stops
  • Eliminates the Business Entity Tax starting next year
  • Increases access to health care
  • Provides a tax credit to craft beer breweries
  • Incentivizes purchasing a zero-emission car to reduce greenhouse gases
  • Protects the Medicare Savings Program and increases funding for Meals on Wheels
  • Establishes a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ)
  • Health and Human Service Network.

Supporting First Responders

As chair of the Public Safety Committee, I was proud to support our police officers, parole officers and firefighters by expanding workers compensation benefits to cover PTSD. Our first responders see violence and death on a frequent basis and we must help them cope with the effects of these tragic experiences.

This legislation will:

  • Establish eligibility criteria to receive PTSD benefits
  • Provide benefits of up to 52 weeks and within four years of an event
  • Develop a peer support policy
  • Offer training in resilience and self-care
  • Create a working group to study the feasibility of expanding these benefits to include EMS and     Department of Correction employees
  • Prohibit a law enforcement unit from disciplining police officers solely because they receive mental health services, or have surrendered their work weapons or ammunition

(Public Act 19-17)


Growing Our Economy

We have heard from manufacturers that they have good, family-supporting jobs open, but we lack a trained workforce interested in manufacturing careers. To change this dynamic, we have developed a program for our public and private colleges to partner with our public high schools to provide students with a pathway to earning an Advanced Manufacturing Certificate while enrolled in high school. The program may also allow for the school to provide evening and weekend classes for adults looking to earn their certificate.


Supporting Seniors

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.


Raising Wages

No one who works full time should live in poverty. Connecticut families will have more economic security as the state’s minimum hourly wage gradually rises to $15.00 by June 1, 2023. This legislation will phase in a raise to over 300,000 workers in our state when wages rise to $11.00 on October 1, 2019, followed by incremental increases until $15.00 is reached.

This legislation will:

  • Combat persistent pay disparities between races and genders
  • Stimulate our economy
  • Raise the minimum wage incrementally until it reaches $15.00 an hour on June 1, 2023.

Keeping People Safe

Due to the increase in gun thefts from cars, we are now requiring drivers to keep guns locked away. Guns that are kept in the console or on the floor of the driver’s or passenger’s seat are often stolen from cars and used in violent acts. We hope to reverse the trend of stolen guns by requiring they be kept out of sight and locked away.


Supporting Working Families

In the event of a medical emergency, Paid Family and Medical Leave allows workers to care for themselves or a loved one without having to face the threat of financial ruin. The program provides replacement wages so that patients and caregivers can take time off and make ends meet.


Capitol Update 2019 (pdf)