Issues

The Economy

Being middle class in Connecticut today is tough and getting tougher. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck. Our wages aren’t growing fast enough to keep up with the rising costs of groceries, gas, and education. And the numbers are clear: the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are getting poorer.

That’s why we need to realign the priorities of Connecticut’s economy to give the middle class—you, your neighbors, your family and friends—a boost. Because when we have a strong, stable, and growing middle class, everyone in Connecticut sees better education, growth, and opportunity. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky idea. There are definitive steps we can take to grow the ranks of the working class.

It starts with our young people. Too many young professionals get out of college and can’t find the kinds of exciting and fulfilling jobs they want in Connecticut. So they leave—and they take with them all the entrepreneurship and economic growth that could have benefited our state. We need to create opportunities for these young professionals to start their careers here, and keep their talents and economic contributions in Connecticut instead of New York or Massachusetts.

One way we can fight to keep talented professionals in Connecticut is to ensure that we have strong wages. I’m proud that we have led the nation by raising our minimum wage to $10.10, and I will fight to continue that wage growth in the future. A business’ profits shouldn’t just go toward building the wealth of its owners and shareholders—those profits should go toward rewarding workers fairly for the labor they provide. When you work hard, you deserve a paycheck that lets you provide for your family, secure your future, and leave enough left over to order a pizza on Friday night.

Of course, there are a select few people for whom the system is already working. Connecticut’s wealthiest residents and our largest corporations are doing quite well, even as the middle class is being squeezed. And why wouldn’t they be doing well? The taxes they pay are paltry compared to what you and I are giving. It’s time that they pay their fair share. Now, some people will tell you that this will devastate Connecticut because all the wealthy people and corporations will move out of state, taking their money and their jobs with them. But this just doesn’t align with the facts. We currently have more millionaires than ever living in Connecticut. And we have been bending over backwards for years to give tax breaks to corporations, only to see them move out of state anyway. We’re all in this together, and when we collect a fair share of taxes from everyone, that is the only way that a rising tide can lift all boats.

But taxes won’t cure everything. We need to create multiple streams of steady revenue to help grow Connecticut’s working class. One obvious revenue stream that the current state legislature has failed to implement is a highway toll system. We’re the only state in the Northeast corridor that doesn’t have tolls. At this very moment we have interstate truckers driving on Connecticut roads, wearing them down, creating potholes, and straining our bridges. And they’re not contributing any money to help us maintain and rebuild these roadways. These out-of-state companies are contributing to the destruction of our infrastructure, but they’re not contributing to its upkeep. The math here is pretty simple: Tolls equal more revenue for Connecticut, and more revenue for Connecticut will help contribute to a stronger working class economy. Because that’s our ultimate goal: a stronger middle class in Connecticut. And we can adjust our economic priorities to make this happen.

With good legislation and a common-sense tax structure, we can bring more people into a state of economic stability and prosperity. And when this happens, everyone benefits. More individuals will be able to afford a good education. More families will be able to afford their dream homes. And more people will be able to splurge on that pizza on Friday night. Economic stability leads to better health and happiness. And it inevitably leads to more consumption. You can afford to buy more things. Which means more demand for businesses. Which means more jobs. Which means more money.

It’s simple: A stronger middle class can help create better education, better growth, and better opportunity in Connecticut.

Supporting Seniors

Ensuring seniors have a secured future in our state is of utmost priority. Many of our seniors have lived most, if not all, of their lives here in Connecticut, raising families, building businesses, and growing our community, and they deserve to enjoy their retirement in their hometown. A society that cares for the very young and the very old will prosper.

Yet I believe our current politicians have ignored the needs of our elders. This is so important to me that I created a Seniors’ Advisory Committee to help understand the issues and come up with solutions. In these sessions, I hear a number of concerns that exist for too many of the seniors in our district. They are worried about being able to afford to say in their home. They are concerned about not having good transportation options, and the challenge this places on their ability to stay involved in the communities they helped build. They are concerned about affording their medications, and about the rise of taxes that often offset any rise in income.

There are a number of steps we need to take to protect and strengthen our seniors:

- Stopping the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs.

- Providing new tax credits for seniors to ensure their taxes are not rising faster than their income.

- Connecticut, like most states, faces a caregiver shortage, with 1 in 6 residents providing care for a relative. This often results in reducing of work hours to care for loved ones. This strain can create ripple effects through our towns and cities as caregivers are unable to make living wages. We must ensure family caregivers are able to balance their multiple demands.

- Stopping the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. If we allow it to happen, it would put more money into the hands of health insurers and investors, but leave seniors with far less than they have now.

Connecticut offers some beneficial programs currently for seniors, such as CT Statewide Respite Care Program, Ready to Work, and the Grandparents as Parents Support network, which serve as a base from which we can elaborate to further strengthen support for seniors. We should also focus on fostering new innovations and programs that will benefit not only our states seniors, but their families as well. In states around the country, forward-thinkers are exploring programs such as senior-focused ride shares, technology training to protect seniors from being victims of fraud, tailored fitness groups, and intergenerational centers.

Connecticut’s seniors deserve to live the lives they have worked hard for, and I will fight to ensure they are respected and cared for.

Education

In Connecticut we produce some of the nation’s brightest academics, but we’re also leaving behind a large portion of our population. As a former teacher, I understand how deeply important education is, and I am troubled by the disparities across this state and how it impacts our residents daily lives.

Fortunately, the solution is clear, too: We need to make sure that everyone in Connecticut, no matter where you live and how much money you have, is afforded the opportunity for a strong education. Because when we improve education in Connecticut, everyone in Connecticut will benefit.

I can hear some of you now: How does it help me if some kid I’ve never met gets an education? Why should I care? I’m just worried about my kids. I hear you. But here’s the thing: You benefit from other people’s education every day:

- The bridge you drove over yesterday was designed by someone with an engineering degree.

- The book you checked out of the library last week was written by someone who learned to read in public kindergarten.

- The lights you’ll turn off when you go to sleep tonight are made possible by an electrician who learned his vocation at night school while providing for his family.

- The 6,000 open jobs at Pratt and Whitney—resulting in 6,000 fewer workers who could live, spend, and contribute in Connecticut—could be filled by someone who is educated right here in our state.

The truth of the matter is that when everyone is educated, everyone—yes, everyone—benefits. So we should devote ourselves to this cause. The first step is to devote ourselves to equity. There is too much of a disparity between the public education given to kids in Granby and the public education given to kids in Hartford – and our state is suffering because of it. Who’s to say that the next great leap in communication technology can’t come from the mind of a kid in Bridgeport? Or that the doctor who will deliver your grandchild isn’t currently in a classroom in New Haven? We need to give these kids the opportunity to succeed—the same opportunity we give to others. As a member of the Granby Board of Education’s Equity Task Force, I’ve devoted long hours to addressing the inequities that students in my own district face.

A good education doesn’t just appear out of thin air, though: It requires adequate funding. That’s why I’m proposing plans for secure funding for public school programs from preschool through high school and beyond. Everyone should have the opportunity to receive an education, no matter how much money their families make.

But that doesn’t mean we need to send everyone off to Yale, or some other four-year college. To meet the challenges of today and tomorrow, we need to invest in nontraditional education, too. This includes community colleges, vocational training programs, the armed services, and more. The days of prioritizing one education over another should be over. And we should help encourage people to get the educations and trainings they need to help boost Connecticut’s economy today, tomorrow, and into the future.

Because that’s the way forward for all of us—lifting up our neighbors, near and far, so that everyone has the opportunity to get the education he or she wants. This next generation is going to lead our state into the future. And we need to give them the tools they need to meet the challenges they’ll face. When we do that, we ensure that tomorrow’s bridges are secure. Tomorrow’s libraries are stocked with revolutionary works. Tomorrow’s electrical grid is sustainable. And tomorrow’s aerospace companies have the Connecticut workers who can fill their payrolls.

The Environment

The 62nd District has some of the most beautiful natural places in all of Connecticut, and I’m proud to protect our environment from special interests and big business. Preserving our planet for future generations is something that I believe we all can agree on.

There are also major financial benefits to protecting our environment. From Lake McDonough to McLean Game Refuge, from the Farmington River to the Tunxis Trail, visitors from all over our state and from other states flock to our District because of our natural treasures. Many of our small businesses rely on the customers that visit throughout the summer, and if we don’t protect the beauty of these resources, their future is in danger.

I’m immensely proud to have earned the endorsement of the Sierra Club’s Connecticut Chapter, and pledge to do my part to help them in the fight to protect our planet.

Supporting Workers/Paid Leave

I support paid family leave and paid benefits to workers in our state. Anyone who works to support a business should be valued as an employee and be given the opportunity to earn time off. No one should have to choose between putting food on the table or taking a sick child to the doctor.

Too often we find companies attempting to skirt what is morally right in order to increase profits, like denying full time benefits and forcing employees into situations where they can only work part-time hours and must find second or third jobs to make ends meet. We need to hold these businesses accountable and ensure we are protecting workers across Connecticut.

When employees are respected productivity increases, people are happier, and they are more likely to stay.. Paid time off should be the standard, not the exception, and I will promise to do all I can to make that a reality for all of our residents, not just a select few.

Regulating Marijuana

Regulating marijuana like alcohol would create well over 15,000 good-paying jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and other fields. Alongside job growth, taxing marijuana sales would bring in over $180 million per year.

I am a member of the CT Coalition to Regulate Marijuana. Regulating marijuana in Connecticut has economic and societal benefits. A recent poll shows that 71% of Connecticut residents support legalizing marijuana. With Connecticut facing continued financial turmoil, it is important that we look for ways to boost our economy. Regulating marijuana like alcohol would create well over 15,000 good-paying jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, retail, and other fields. Alongside job growth, taxing marijuana sales would bring in over $180 million per year. Moving marijuana sales from off the street and into state-licensed outlets would allow for strict regulations against selling to people under 21 years of age.