Serving the 49th Assembly District
Assistance for Veterans
This year, we supported and advanced legislation that recognizes the important sacrifices that veterans made while defending our country. We increased services available to veterans on state colleges and university campuses; established the Connecticut Women Veterans’ Program; created the Veterans to Agriculture Program; and we are ensuring veterans have housing.
Student Loan Rates Drop
The Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority (CHESLA) announced that it will offer a fixed interest rate of 4.95% for new student loans, down from its current rate of 6.75%. Not only is this the lowest rate that CHESLA has ever offered, it is also significantly lower than the new Federal PLUS loan rate of 6.84%.
Property Tax Relief
Car owners in Windham and Willimantic will see a cut in their motor vehicle taxes as the legislature capped the car tax mill rate statewide at 32 mills beginning July 2016 and 29.36 mills in July 2017. Windham’s current mill rate is 36.21 and Willimantic’s current mill rate is 45.98. This plan provides much needed car tax relief to car owners. Here’s how it works:
The formula to determine the car tax is 70% of the car’s value multiplied by the mill rate, then dividing the sum by 1000. For example, a 2010 Dodge Caravan’s blue book value is $9,250. 70% of that value is $6,475. Multiply this sum by the current mill rate (36.21) and you’ll get $234,459.75. Divide this number by 1000 and the car tax bill will be $234.45 for Fiscal Year 2015.
District 1 (Windham Taxing District)
If you drive a 2010 Dodge Caravan valued at $9,250 this year you paid
approximately $235 in car tax.
In FY 16 you will pay $207, saving $28.
In FY 17 you will pay $190, saving $45 over what you paid this year.
District 2 (Willimantic Taxing District)
This year you paid $297.72.
In FY 16 you will pay $207, saving about $90.
In FY 17 you will pay $190, saving about $107 over what you paid this year.
Improving Our Aging Transportation System
According to the business community, our outdated transportation infrastructure is one of the biggest drags on our economy. That is why my colleagues and I made sure our state has a long-term plan to invest in modernizing our transportation network.
Starting next year a fraction of a percent of our sales tax will go toward replacing and repairing neglected roads and bridges, and upgrading rail and other public transit systems. Making this investment is critical to our economic future.
Connecticut can’t continue to grow with a transportation system designed for the 20th century.
By investing in transportation projects around the state, we are encouraging smart growth, addressing traffic congestion and creating sustainable jobs in Connecticut. To ensure the state’s economic competitiveness and promote new jobs, we formed the Commission on Economic Competitiveness, which will develop policies that promote economic growth. The commission will analyze the impact state tax policy has on state business and industry.
Additional funds were allocated for the highly successful loan program called the Small Business Express Program. The Department of Economic and Community Development will dedicate funds to develop a program for construction projects for minority business enterprises. These moves will create economic diversity for Connecticut families.
English Language Learners
This year, a bilingual education workgroup convened to address the needs of English Language Learners (ELLs) and our state’s staggering achievement gap. We are requiring the State Department of Education to develop standards for students receiving longer periods of instruction and to annually report on the progress of these students. A pilot program was also created in four towns and cities to identify best practices and provide more administrative support to all schools in Connecticut.
Moreover, districts will not be penalized with low rankings when these students perform poorly on standardized tests in their first two years of learning English. Finally, we directed Regional Education Service Centers to study and recommend ways that districts with low numbers of ELL students may still receive quality instruction.
Reducing Required Testing In Schools
Since the rollout of No Child Left Behind almost 15 years ago, standardized testing has come under a lot of scrutiny. One area of concern is that there are simply too many tests. For example, juniors in high school are currently required to take the SBAC exam at a time when many of them are taking the SAT or ACT college admission tests. As we work statewide and across the country to improve the use of standardized tests, the legislature took another big step forward this year by allowing schools to waive the SBAC testing for any student taking college admission tests.
Patient Designated Caregivers
A new law called the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, requires the hospital to document a caregiver who has been chosen by the patient in the patient’s discharge plan. The hospital must attempt to notify the caregiver of the patient’s discharge, and to instruct the caregiver on any post-discharge tasks with which the patient will need assistance.