Dear Friend and Neighbor,
Thank you for giving me the privilege of representing you in the CT General Assembly. It is such an honor to continue to serve you in the legislature. I wanted to provide some updates on what we worked on in the 2019 Legislative Session. The 2019 Legislative Session was “long” in duration and “long” on substance. The House passed a budget which is responsible, stable, and funds the Rainy Day Fund at historic levels. With significant investments in education, job growth, and economic development throughout the state, the budget holds the line on spending.
- We’ve increased funding for education from the Governor’s budget and we blocked the cost shifting of the teachers pension.
- Through an agreement, the budget funds local hospitals to expand access to healthcare and protect thousands of jobs.
- Expansions were made to the Angel Investor tax credit and a repeal of the Business Entity tax to support small business.
With this budget, we’ve made significant investments in Connecticut’s middle class by:
- Supporting the start-up funding for the Paid Family Medical Leave program.
- Funding the workforce development pipeline to better match our curriculum with employer needs.
- Increasing funding for Higher Education to help stabilize tuition and improve the long term stability of our college and university system while establishing a plan for debt-free college.
The budget also makes investments in Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents by expanding funding for essential programs like HUSKY A, Medicaid and Meals on Wheels while rejecting the Governor’s proposed asset test for the Medicare Savings Program. In an effort to support a healthier planet, we’ve found opportunities to reduce single-use waste by implementing a 10 cent tax on single-use plastic bags followed by a full ban in 2021. Polluting emissions were reduced through rebate incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. And, we’ve done all this without income or broad based sales tax rate increases. Now, we have heard a lot of criticism from our colleagues on the other side of the aisle – but the truth is, despite being offered a seat at the table, Republicans offered zero cuts or policy ideas. Ultimately, they did not offer a budget. We’ve worked hard to present a budget that is a reflection of our values and aspirations for the future. With this budget, I believe we offer not only growth, but security for the residents of Connecticut. Over the years I have worked tirelessly with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to do what’s best for New Haven and Connecticut. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of service to you or your family.
Background Checks for Caregivers
We want to keep dangerous people away from our loved ones. We expanded access to background checks to help identify potentially dangerous individuals seeking jobs that have contact with our elderly population. We have charged the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors to convene a working group to develop strategies to raise public awareness about the available information on caregivers. (SB 832; Public Act19-116)
Minority Teacher Recruitment and Retention
It is important for the minority students in our state to have more teachers who not only look like them, but understand the challenges they face in our society, so we passed legislation which creates an annual hiring goal of 250 new minority teachers and administrators across the state.
To accomplish this goal, the legislation includes:
- Expanding reciprocal teacher certification with other states.
- Re-employing retired teachers who are graduates of colleges and universities that serve minority students.
- Allowing for flexibility in certain teacher certification requirements.
- Removing subject matter assessments requirements for teachers seeking to be re-certified after their certification lapses in certain cases.
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 help over 300,000 Connecticut workers who make less than $15 an hour. The wage will increase on Oct. 1 to $11 an hour, followed by incremental increases over the next 4½ years 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.
- Index future minimum wage increases.
Paid Family & Medical Leave
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. By providing up to 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Insurance per year, equaling up to 95% of an employee’s weekly paycheck, we will provide financial protection to those who find themselves in an unanticipated medical emergency. This will help pregnant women on medically-ordered bedrest, families with an infirm or aging parent and new parents who want to bond with an infant. The program is funded by employee contributions. If you or your family has an emergency, there will now be financial peace-of-mind. (SB 1; Public Act 19-25)
Illegal Street Racing
Illegal street racing is a growing problem in our city and has resulted in a number of tragic deaths throughout the state. In response, I led passage of legislation that increases fines and penalties for illegal street racing, raises the penalty for negligent homicide with a motor vehicle and requires anyone convicted of illegal street racing to complete a driver retraining program. (HB 7378; Public Act 19-53)
Keeping Guns In Cars Locked Away
Due to the increase in gun thefts from cars, we are now requiring drivers to keep guns locked away. Having an unsecured gun in plain sight, increases the risk of theft, as well as gun injury and death. We hope to reverse this trend by requiring guns to be kept out of sight, locked away. (HB 7223; Public Act 19-7)