House Democrats led the way in passing significant legislation during the 2016 session of the General Assembly to help protect and improve the quality of life for Connecticut families.
This was a session dominated by the budget. Although there were no easy solutions, we approved a budget that is balanced, without tax or fee increases, without borrowing, and without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund – that cuts $830 million.
Improving public health, increasing public safety, and encouraging financial security for everyone were featured elements of the some of the major bills approved by the legislature this year.
Keeping Connecticut a great place to live, work, and raise a family is our ongoing responsibility. Though the 2016 legislative session presented one of the toughest budget challenges in decades, we succeeded to help move our state forward.
There are no smoke and mirrors with this budget. Almost every line item in the budget was impacted. It cut spending by $830 million:
- Without dipping into the Rainy Day Fund
- Without borrowing
- Without tax increases
We made the following structural changes that will reduce long-term obligations and create a more sustainable budget over time:
- Non–union state employee wage freeze & insurance co-pay increase
- Salary pension cap for retiring non-union state employees
- Reduction in the size of state government
Even big-headline projects face cuts. We are delaying some of the Governor’s transportation initiative in order to protect legislative priorities like:
- Hospital funding
- School funding
- Property tax relief
- Funding for colleges and universities
In recent years, Connecticut, like other New England states, has seen a heartbreaking increase in fatal opioid overdoses. Earlier this year we passed groundbreaking legislation to combat this crisis.
This lifesaving law will:
Increase access to Narcan, a drug that reverses opioid abuse, and:
- Allow any licensed healthcare professional to administer Narcan
- Require municipalities to equip their first responders with Narcan
- Allow pharmacists to prescribe Narcan
Limit opioid prescriptions, reducing the risk of addiction, and:
- Caps first-time adult prescriptions at a seven-day supply
- Caps all prescriptions for minors at a seven-day supply
- Contains exceptions for certain medical conditions
Add more on-the-ground experts to the Connecticut Alcohol and Drug Policy Council, such as:
- An emergency medical technician
- A licensed drug and alcohol counselor
While there is still more work to be done, this legislation is a historic step forward in both combatting opioid overdose and preventing new cases of opioid addiction.
Curbing Car Taxes
Connecticut’s automobile tax policy allowed towns to set their own mill rates, creating an unfair system where cars with identical blue-book values are taxed at significantly different rates from town to town.
A statewide mill rate will provide a consistent assessment for the same vehicle regardless of where it is registered. Bridgeport’s mill rate will drop from over 42 to 37 in 2016 and 32 in the 2017 motor vehicle tax bill. Bridgeport will not lose any tax revenue. Any losses will be offset through a pooled sharing of a percentage of the state’s sales tax revenue.
Fighting Bedbugs and Task Force on Hoarding
A new law will establish a framework to identify and treat bed bug infestations in residential and public housing. It outlines the duties and responsibilities for both landlords and tenants regarding notice, inspection, and treatment of an infestation. Hoarding puts the lives of families, communities, and our first responders in jeopardy. Through this measure, we can begin the conversation on how to address this issue. The task force will review current methods used by various public agencies and identify barriers to better coordinate, intervene, and assist persons who compulsively hoard.