As your state representative, I’ve been working to address issues that affect us on a local and national level. This year, we’ve furthered our efforts to increase criminal justice reform in the state, passed key legislation that aims to help small businesses, and we have worked to strengthen pregnancy protections for women in the workplace. But our work is not done.
With both political parties tied in the state Senate, and Democrats holding a thin 79-72 majority in the House of Representatives, it was difficult to pass the broad, sweeping legislation that I have been fighting for since I was elected.
During this legislative session, I have fought to build a more progressive future for Connecticut by advocating for legislation that implements new sources of revenue and allows us to remain competitive with surrounding states.
As an elected official, I believe legislators should be teachers and organizers. We should listen, compile the best of our constituents’ ideas, and be unafraid to push back even when the numbers are not there.
While we have passed legislation that puts Hamden and Connecticut residents first, these are the bills that did not garner enough support to receive the legislature’s approval this year. However, I remain committed to fighting for the passage of these types of legislation during the 2018 session.
Closing the Carried Interest Loophole
Hedge fund and equity fund managers pay the federal capital gains rate, not the federal income tax. Since these hedge funds are providing a service, the money they make should be treated like income, not capital. This misclassification is costing the state over $500 million a year.
Ranked Choice Voting
Another name for this is run-off elections. Instead of being forced to vote for the person you dislike the least, because you don’t want to waste your vote, you would be able to vote in order of preference.
Large Employer Fee
When big box stores open a branch in Connecticut, oftentimes, its workers are underpaid and profits are siphoned out of the state. Wal-Mart has protocols to direct its workers to apply for state aid. This means the average Connecticut taxpayer is subsidizing these large businesses to underpay its employees. By instituting a large employer fee, we would offset this cost.
Increased Taxation on the Wealthy
In the past 30 years, the top 1 percent of Connecticut income earners have obtained 84 percent of all income gains, while everyone else’s wages have stagnated or declined. In the richest state in the wealthiest country, we should be asking our top-earners to pay their fair share. If you earn $165,000 or more, you pay at most 8 percent of your income to state and local taxes, and those who make $75,000 or less pay at minimum 14 percent. We need to establish a tax structure where everyone pays their fair share.
Property Tax Reform
Greenwich’s property tax rate is set at 11 mills, Hamden residents pay a tax rate of 47 mills, and Hartford comes in at 75 mills. We can equalize property tax rates by having a single, statewide property tax which would be used for equitable funding of our public education system.
National Popular Vote
Every vote should count and the delegate system we have today is outdated. If Connecticut joins the pact, we become closer to ensuring that there is no such thing as a wasted national vote.
Eliminate Property Tax Exemptions
Each year, $750 million is lost to property tax exemptions for education systems, religious institutions, and government-owned property. A large chunk of this loss is in New Haven and Hartford alone. I believe all property should be taxed the same.
Regulation of Marijuana
If cigarettes and liquor are legal, then marijuana should be too. Colorado just passed the $500 million mark for revenues raised in nearly three years. Let’s focus on how to deal with how to enforce DUIs and ensuring that marijuana doesn’t get into the hands of children, not whether to legalize.
Increasing Minimum Wage
If the minimum wage had kept up with inflation from its high point in the 1970s, it would be over $20 an hour now. We cannot expect Connecticut residents to support themselves in a high-cost state when a full-time, minimum-wage job pays barely over $20,000 per year. Once we get the minimum salary to a livable wage, we can index it to inflation and prevent this problem from occurring in the future.
Allowing the Dreamers to Access Institutional Aid
Right now, an entire generation of children pays into our public higher education system, but do not have the ability to access the funds to which a percentage of their tuition is diverted. This institutional inequity could be resolved easily.
Paid Family and Medical Leave
A medical leave system would be relatively inexpensive to administer, and would be funded by employees at a 0.5 percent payroll tax. New Jersey and New York now have paid leave laws and will quickly begin to attract our best and brightest if we do not provide the same.
Aid In Dying
Rather than watching a loved one die in agony over a long period, this legislation would give adults who provide informed consent the ability to pass when they choose.
Moving Connecticut Forward
Although this was a challenging session, we worked to pass some important legislation that will help to make our state a better place to live.
- HB 6668 strengthens current protections for pregnant and nursing women under the state’s anti-discrimination law.
- HB 6695 bans “Conversion Therapy”, which is a barbaric practice that uses psychological and emotional abuse in an attempt to change the sexual orientation of gay children.
- HB 5743 increases the punishment for a hate crime from a misdemeanor to a felony. Connecticut now has some of the strongest hate crime laws in the nation and sends the clear message that our state will not tolerate racism, violence, or hatred.
- The State Bonding Commission approved $297,800 in funding for the Hamden Police Department for the purchase of body cameras and video storage devices. This simultaneously helps residents and police feel safer in our community.
Passing these bills will help create a more financially stable and economic-friendly environment for Connecticut residents to live and work in. As residents, you can help inspire and make change. It is vital that state legislators hear from you to learn what issues you are passionate about most. I look forward to working together to build a more progressive, sustainable future for Connecticut.