Weekly News April 23 - 29April 28, 2017
It's been another busy week in Hartford and I have a lot of news to share.
Reaching a balanced state budget is a long process with many difficult decisions. As a member of the legislature's Appropriations Committee, I'd like to provide an update on where we are in that process.
On Tuesday, the Appropriations Committee was scheduled to vote on a proposed state spending plan that all members, including myself, have been working on since the beginning of this legislative session. This effort was marked by compromise - both Republicans and Democrats have been fully involved in the ongoing negotiations, ultimately ending with the three Chairs (both Republicans and Democrats) crafting a package to bring before the full Appropriations Committee for a potential vote.
However, the decision was made to cancel the vote on Tuesday after learning that Republicans were no longer supporting the negotiated, bipartisan budget proposal. This was a disappointing development, as the budget included both Democratic and Republican priorities.
In these difficult fiscal times, no one is going to agree 100% with any budget that either side produces. But governing is about making compromises so that we can continue to move Connecticut forward.
It is my hope, and I’ve made this clear to the leaders within my caucus, that the Appropriations and Finance Committee chairs (both R and D) convene with all legislative leaders so we can begin the real negotiations required to place Connecticut on a path of sustainability. We will face challenges, but this will allow for opportunities to ensure that where we are going is a place we can be proud of.
Because whether I'm talking to someone at a restaurant in South Windsor, the mall in Manchester, or at a UConn football game in East Hartford, what I hear again and again is that you want me to work with all the members of the General Assembly to find real solutions for our state. It’s about putting the "we" before the "me."
I am committed to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reach a fair and balanced budget that puts the interests of Connecticut residents first. If you would like to discuss this further or have ideas of your own, please do not hesitate to contact me and share. All ideas must be considered as we move through this extensive process.
On Saturday I attended the March for Science in Hartford. It was great to see so many people turn up to marches across the state! It's important that government relies on evidence-based science to make good policy decisions. We should respect the many scientists and researchers who work hard to expand what we know about the world we live in! Read about the march here.
Also over the weekend was the American Lung Association Fight for Air Climb at City Place. Congratulations to the East Hartford Fire Department for winning the competition with the fastest time from the ground floor to the top of the building!
East Hartford Fire Fighters
On Sunday I attended an East Hartford Lions Club brunch for the QUEST program. The program teaches youth to accept responsibility, communicate effectively, set goals, and resist pressure to use alcohol and drugs. The Lions Club has sponsored the QUEST: Skills for Adolescence Program for our middle schoolers for 30 continuous years.
Thank you to 8th grader Yaiyliah Cochran for speaking to attendees on the importance of comprehensive health instruction within our public schools. In the Education Committee, we moved a bill forward this session addressing graduation requirements, including health instruction. Many of us felt we did not truly address this piece of a student’s learning and the leadership of the Education Committee has since filed an amendment strengthening the graduation requirement around health education. For more details, read the filed amendment here.
Rep. Henry Genga, Me, EH student Yaiyliah Cochran, Yaiyliah's father, and Sen. Tim Larson
Yaiyliah receives a proclamation from Mayor Marcia Leclerc
Ed Fenton, EH Lions Club President (L) presenting Tyron Harris, secretary of the EH Board of Education, with a check to continue funding for the QUEST program
Congratulations to Eagle Scouts Danny Sollima and Stephen Rosenbaum of South Windsor for completing their Eagle Scout projects!
Stephen Rosenbaum constructed four work tables for students to use in preparing their plantings in the high tunnels at the Avery Street community garden. Danny Sollima constructed four raised vegetable garden beds at Pleasant Valley School. The vegetables grown there will be harvested and used by the school cafeteria.
Stephen Rosenbaum (second from left) with his tables mid-construction
I'm excited to be a member of the Host Committee for the Women's Business Development Council's (WBDC) Women Owned Business Day! The event is on May 3 at the State Capitol, and will feature speeches from legislators and successful women business owners, followed by business workshops. In Connecticut, there are 107,000 women entrepreneurs employing more than 90,000 people and generating receipts of $3.2 billion. To learn more and register for the event, click here.
The Tick Testing Program at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) is reporting higher tick abundance and higher abundance of ticks carrying Lyme Disease this season. The increase appears to be related to warmer winter temperatures in Connecticut during the last two years.
The greatest risk of being bitten exists in the spring, summer, and fall. You can help prevent tick bites by checking yourself for ticks after being outside in the yard or wooded areas and by using bugspray. You can learn more about tick bite prevention here.
The 23rd Annual Skyhoundz Canine Disk Championships will be on Thursday, May 4th at 6:00 PM at McAuliffe Park. This free event attracts the most entertaining four-legged athletes in the area. Families are invited to cheer on the canine competitors. Registration will be onsite, and all veteran and novice dogs that can catch a flying disc are eligible. Learn more here.
Click here for the town meetings calendar.
Click here for the community events calendar.
There will be a drive for clothing and household items on Saturday, April 29 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Community Center (150 Nevers Road). Clothing, bedding and towels, toys and games, books, sporting goods, and other household items will be accepted. The drive benefits the Friends of the South Windsor Senior Center. For questions, call Andrea at 860-648-6357 or email email@example.com.
Click here for the public meetings calendar.
Click here for the community events calendar.
The Manchester Board of Education will be holding its next budget workshop at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, May 3rd to discuss the Board of Education budget. The meeting will be in Room 293 of Manchester High School, 134 E. Middle Turnpike.
Click here for the full town calendar.
IN THE NEWS
East Hartford High School students in a human rights class have launched a campaign to help poor and homeless women access feminine hygiene products. Due to the products' high prices, homeless women must often choose between buying feminine hygiene products or food.
The group is raising money to put together care packages for homeless shelters and advocating for tampon and pad dispensers in their school. Learn more in this Hartford Courant article.
The team of Hartford and East Hartford is one of seven finalist teams in the CTNext Innovation Places program competition. The Innovation Places program provides funding for communities to become destinations for entrepreneurs and high-growth companies. Teams are competing for a portion of a $30 million pool to support projects that will boost the local economy. Learn more in this Hartford Business article.
Last year we passed legislation that makes it easier for people that completed their prison sentence to find jobs, thereby reducing the recidivism rate and saving Connecticut money. National statistics have shown that 93 percent of federal prisoners who found jobs during their supervised release period didn’t return to prison, while half of those who couldn’t find jobs did. Learn more here.
Connecticut has seen job growth in each month of the first quarter. Last month’s job gains came in three key high paying industries - manufacturing, financial activities, and information. The Hartford labor market area led the state with 3,000 new jobs added last month. Learn more here.
Upcoming Meetings and Events
A full calendar of all events happening at the Capitol next week, including public hearings, is available on the General Assembly website.
You can find the agenda for public hearings on the calendar by clicking on the calendar item and following the link to the committee page. For instructions on how to testify at a public hearing, please click here.