It is an honor to serve you in the legislature. This year’s legislative session has concluded and for the second year in a row we passed a bipartisan budget agreement.
The budget protects towns, restores cuts to the Medicare Savings and Renters Rebate Programs that help elderly and disabled individuals, and supports veterans’ services – all without raising taxes.
My number one priority is representing the interests of Torrington residents. The budget increases our town’s state education aid. I also led the passage of my bill to allow sober living homes that meet health and safety standards to register with the state. This will protect people working toward recovery from unsafe homes. Additionally, I supported policies that assist small businesses, enhance workforce development and help reduce prescription drug costs.
I hope you find the enclosed information helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can be of service to you or your family.
2018 Legislative Accomplishments
- Supported a bipartisan budget adjustment package that provided more education funding to Torrington
- Restored funding for the Medicare Savings Program
- Secured $400,000 to be placed in the Firefighter Cancer Fund
- Added $2 million in funding for healthcare for veterans
Supporting Our Veterans
Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a traumatic brain injury, or are the victims of military sexual trauma deserve support as they recover and reintegrate into civilian life. However, these conditions pose unique challenges and some veterans receive a less than honorable discharge from the military, which makes them ineligible for services. We successfully passed legislation this session to allow these veterans access to the state services they need and earned. The budget agreement also provides an additional $2 million in funding for veterans’ health care.
Reducing Prescription Costs
Recognizing that prescription drug prices are the number one driver of rising healthcare costs, we passed legislation to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by increasing transparency and requiring them to explain large price increases for drugs that have a substantial cost to the state. Additionally, insurance companies must now submit information about which drugs are most frequently prescribed and which are provided at the greatest cost. By collecting more data and holding drug companies accountable, we can get closer to lowering drug costs for Connecticut residents.
Oversight For Sober Homes
I proudly authored legislation that will regulate sober homes in our communities. In the last several years, Torrington has witnessed an unprecedented number of deaths in these facilities. Across Connecticut, over 60,000 residents sought treatment for substance abuse in 2016 alone. One of our challenges is providing adequate treatment and recovery services. To address this, my bill sets up a system where sober homes can register with the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services so families will be able to check if a sober home is registered with the state. It also establishes certain marketing and advertising requirements, keeping the consumer’s best interests in mind. Under this legislation, sober homes must have Narcan onsite and residents must be trained in its use.
A Bipartisan Budget Agreement For Connecticut
I proudly worked on and supported a bipartisan state budget that increased state aid to Torrington from $26,933,870 to $27,177,544 in the fiscal year that begins this July. We increased Education Cost Sharing funding from what our town received in 2018 from $24,335,148 to $24,840,264 in the coming fiscal year. This will ensure our students receive the funding they deserve and the middle class does not have to carry the burden. The budget agreement also:
- Has no income, sales, or other state tax increases
- Bolsters the Rainy Day Fund to its highest level in state history
- Restores funding to the Medicare Savings Program
- Restores partial funding to the Energy Efficiency Fund, juvenile justice programs, and developmental services
- Provides a funding boost for dairy farmers and vo-ag programs
Restoring The Medicare Savings Program
The bipartisan budget agreement restored funding to the Medicare Savings Program. MSP helps low income elderly individuals and the disabled pay for the cost of medicine and healthcare premiums. The 2017 budget package called for a decrease in eligibility that was scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2018. The 2018 agreement maintains the current income eligibility limits so no one should see a decrease in care.
Connecting Students To Manufacturing
Continuing our efforts to encourage students to consider careers in manufacturing, we are working to develop mobile manufacturing training labs that will visit middle and high schools to educate students about advanced manufacturing. This builds upon our previous work to invest in our community colleges and technical high schools, and reaffirms our belief that technical education and career training can lead students to family-supporting jobs.
Investing In Middle Class Families
In response to recent federal tax law changes, we passed legislation to protect the state and local tax deduction. The changes to this deduction on the federal level will likely increase taxes on families in our community. Under our new state law, towns can create non-profit charity-type programs that still qualify for federal deductions, as a way to both preserve local services and reduce your federal tax burden. Unfortunately, the IRS is already pushing back on these efforts. I will continue to work on lowering residents’ tax burden.