Serving the 54th Assembly District
Legislative Office Building, Room 4115
Hartford, CT 06106-1591
Tax Relief for Working Families
We worked to adopt a budget that invests in the critical services that are important to working families and that sets us on a path that encourages economic growth. At the same time, this budget made significant cuts to the current services budget. We acted to increase revenue to achieve a balanced solution by broadening the sales tax and asking giant corporations to chip in a little more.
PILOT Reform Benefits Mansfield
Mansfield will receive an additional $3,386,575 in state funding for Fiscal Year 2017 mainly from the state’s Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program, reformed under this budget. These reforms prioritize towns which host more tax-exempt property, like Mansfield which hosts the University of Connecticut. This large increase in state funding for our town will help hold down our property taxes, repair our roads and fund our schools.
Unemployment Hits 7-Year Low
Connecticut’s unemployment numbers are down and our jobs numbers are going up! This past July, Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.4%, its lowest rate since May 2008. This drop is occurring at the same time our labor force is growing - over the past 3 years, we have seen 90,00 more people employed in Connecticut. These are positive trends for our state’s economy.
While these are good signs for the overall health of our economy, not everyone who wants to work has found a job. Here are some great local and statewide resources that can assist you in you job search:
CT Workforce Alliance
CT Department of Labor
Office for Veterans Workforce Development
Updates to Our Education Laws
Some significant improvements this year include allowing national exam results (like ACT and SAT scores) to count toward high school graduation requirements, and greater public transparency for charter schools. Finally, local school boards are given greater flexibility when meeting state-imposed minimum budget standards and can regionalize in order to cut costs.
Protecting the Elderly
To protect seniors from potential abuse, we expanded the definition of neglect to include a situation in which a caretaker fails to arrange for the necessary services to keep an elderly person healthy. The Department of Social Services is now required to notify a nursing home or residential care home resident’s designee of suspected abuse or neglect within 24 hours.
Pay Equity and Fairness
To reduce wage inequality and increase transparency, we provided protections for employees who wish to discuss their wages with fellow employees. Employers are now prohibited from barring an employee from discussing his/her wage with another employee and are also prohibited from requiring that an employee sign a document banning them from doing so.
Environment & Agricultural Preservation
We banned the import or sale of products containing microbeads. Some cosmetics products such as facial scrubs utilize microbeads - small plastic components - that are not biodegradable and pollute the environment. The legislature also supported farmers by providing financial assistance to help them with farmland restoration and farm management plans.
Help for Our Veterans
The legislature continued to recognize the important sacrifices that veterans have made for our country. Now, military veterans’ retirement pay will be 100% exempt from the state income tax. Additionally, we established the Women Veterans’ Program to help better connect female veterans to services, and the Veterans to Agriculture Program to give tax credits to vets working in agricultural production.
Big News in College Affordability
STUDENT LOAN BILL OF RIGHTS
Connecticut became the first state in the nation to create a Student Loan Bill of Rights, which establishes an Office of the Student Loan Ombudsman to regulate student loan servicers, compile data on borrower complaints and help student borrowers and their parents navigate the loan process.
SIGNIFICANT STUDENT LOAN RATE CUT
Under pressure from the legislature, the CT Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority has announced that it will offer its lowest fixed interest rate yet at 4.95%, down from its current rate of 6.75%.
The legislature voted in unanimous support of a bill which I co-authored to help lower the high cost of college textbooks. The new law encourages greater use of open-source textbooks which are made available for free on the Internet to students, faculty, and the public.
Fair Treatment for Juveniles
To ensure that the criminal justice system does not treat children unfairly, criminal courts will now consider evidence showing the difference between juvenile and adult brain development when sentencing for certain felonies committed by those under the age of 18. Juveniles serving sentences of more than 10 years will also have a parole hearing after serving a portion of their sentence. We also increased the age when juveniles are automatically transferred to adult court from age 14 to age 15.