Funding for Students & CT's Fiscal Standing

February 10, 2023
The legislature’s two session days this week have resulted in some important results for Bridgeport and Fairfield as well as residents of our entire state. Yesterday, we passed legislation that provides additional funding for our schools and maintains Connecticut's fiscal guardrails related to our rainy day fund, bonded debt, and pay-down of pension debt. On Wednesday, the Governor introduced his $50.5 billion two-year budget, which the Appropriations and Finance Committees will begin to work through.

Please find more information about not only this week’s sessions, but other events and items of interest, beginning with next week’s opportunity to hear directly from our Commissioner of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. I hope you can join us on the 13th for the conversation.

You can click on any of the links above to jump to that section of the email. I hope that you find these resources helpful.
PURA Conversation
This is just a reminder that on Monday, February 13 at 4PM at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, the Fairfield Delegation will host an informative discussion with the Chairwoman of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA), Marissa Gillett, and Chair of Sustainable Fairfield, Bob Wall, to discuss the recent utility bill spike.

Many of you have questions about how and why prices have spiked, and our panelists will discuss what is happening and what we can do to combat the rising costs.

All members of the public are invited, and I encourage you to join the conversation in person!

Connecticut’s Fiscal Guardrails
The legislature’s vote this week allows us to maintain the fiscal guardrails that have allowed us to cut taxes, invest in families and the economy, pay down pension debt, and save for the future. These guardrails have resulted in:
  • Over $650 million in tax cuts
  • $3.63 billion in additional payments towards our pension debt
  • Over $200 million in preschool education and children's mental health programs
  • Record savings in our rainy day fund, which currently stands at $6.48 billion

This legislation was a result of negotiations between both parties, the legislature and the governor.

Special Education Funding
As part of yesterday’s vote, we assured that more than $20 million of already allocated funding will be paid out to meet the special education needs in our schools.

For Bridgeport and Fairfield, this means over $1.8 million paid to meet special education funding needs.

Please find allocation amounts - by town - below:

Governor's Budget Proposal
On Wednesday, the Governor proposed his $50.5 billion two year budget. Today both the Appropriations and Finance Committees met with the Office of Policy and Management to review the details included and you can watch those hearings, and most of the legislature’s sessions and public hearings through CT-N’s on demand website. You can read one summary of the Governor’s budget in this CT Mirror article, which includes a helpful graphic explaining the budget process as it moves forward.
The Governor spent a significant portion of time addressing housing, proposing $800 million in bonding for affordable an supportive housing and another $200 million for first time hone buyers. He challenged communities to create their own zoning opportunities, saying, “Growing the grand list reduces property taxes for everyone.” He also introduced an historic tax cut proposal for middle income earners and a 31% increase in the Earned income tax credit, which will go primarily to families with children.

The Governor’s bill did not fund education at the levels proposed in HB 5003, a bill championed by Reps. Currey and Felipe. The bill, which I and many of our colleagues have co-sponsored, would increase educational funding for both Bridgeport and Fairfield and speed up the full implementation of the Educational Cost Sharing formula adopted in 2017. You can learn more about student centered funding and the work behind HB 5003 at School State Finance.

Fairfield Girl Scouts Visit the Capitol
On Wednesday, during the Governor’s address, we were joined in the chamber by Fairfield Girl Scouts, Teagan Weber and Ayla Eyikan, and their parents. These Girl Scouts are authors of "Susie Speaks Up", a book about climate change that was tweeted about by Leonardo DiCaprio.

I am sure their visit to the capitol was not as exciting as having him tweet out their work, but it was thrilling to recognize them on the floor of the House, and introduce them to fellow legislators who have been champions for our environment, including one whose work was also tweeted by Mr. DeCaprio!

Housatonic Community College Visit
On Friday, I joined fellow legislators for a visit to Housatonic Community College (HCC), the 5th largest and most diverse Community College in the system. We had the pleasure of hearing from CEO Dr. Dwyane Smith and some of the students, including 2023 Dream Scholar Vitória Nogueira, one of 8 students recognized nationally. Vitória and her fellow students talked about the offering and opportunities at HCC and the fact that at Housatonic they feel as if they belong. On the ride up to Hartford later that day, I was listening to author Brené Brown who shared research about student success when they experience a sense of belonging.
The meeting took place in the Housatonic Museum of Art, open to the public Monday-Friday 8:30 - 7:00 and Saturdays 9:00 - 2:00. One of the current exhibits, The Practice of Democracy: A View From Connecticut, “Examines how justice, equality and power appear in our built environment – our cities and neighborhoods, the places we call home.”
The exhibit is open through February 24th.
Proposed Legislation
You can access the list of bills I introduced by clicking here, many together with other legislators. During the course of the session, I will be co-sponsoring other bills and working directly on a variety of bills across many topic areas. My primary work will be within the committees on which I serve: Public Health as co-chair, Transportation, Planning and Development and Government Administration and Elections.