By: Rep. Mike Molgano
This year marks my first full term serving the people of the 144th district of Stamford in the General Assembly. During this time, my life has been comprised of remaining active within my local community inStamford and working long days and nights at the Capitol.
Since the beginning of my public service to the 144th district, I have been working endlessly with my Republican colleagues to bring economic improvement back toConnecticut by standing behind common sense, pro-business solutions. The bi-partisan jobs package we passed during a special session last October has helped our state’s small businesses stay on their feet. However, our economy still remains fragile, and we must be careful not to disrupt the progress we have made thus far by passing more anti-business legislation through the legislature.
There is no question that every household and small business both around the state and inStamfordhas taken a hit from our ailing economy. Even though the Republicans in the General Assembly are the minority party, we have not stopped fighting against any and all anti-business legislation that hinders economic improvement and job creation inConnecticut.
In an attempt to try and solve our state’s budgetary issues, Governor Malloy and the majority party in the legislature purposed and passed a tax increase of $1.8 billion. This went on to hurt our struggling families and businesses, and now, after the largest tax increase in our state’s history, we still find ourselves looking down the barrel of a $284.6 million deficit because of failed revenue projections and a failure to address our state’s spending issues.
It should be clear to all that our state has been struggling to effectively manage our finances. Taxing and borrowing more money to cover for operating expenses will only make matters worse forConnecticut’s citizens. There is a lot of work that must be done to improve our economy and get our fiscal house in order and I plan to continue my efforts to do so in a responsible way.
As a member of our legislature, I have the honor to serve on the Education, Transportation and Finance committees. While I have given each committee equal attention, I have dedicated much of my personal time and concentration toward a plan that addresses the fundamental problems and concerns with our state’s education system.
First and foremost, we must focus on closing the achievement gap, currently the largest in the nation, and must also continue to foster the educational opportunities provided by our institutions of higher learning, including our Vocational Technical Schools. The success of our economic future relies on giving our youth the best education possible across every town and city inConnecticut, and we must mirror the national career cluster models that allow middle and high school students to cater their choice of study as necessary for college, an apprenticeship, or military service. This means making smarter investments and reforms in our education system and not repeating the past by wasting hard-earned tax-payer money on failed policies. By providing our children and teenagers with the proper education, we will bring innovation and job creation back toConnecticut.
Governor Dannel Malloy coined the 2012 Legislative Session as the “Education Session”, and after much negotiation and debate, the legislature agreed upon a comprehensive reform package that will start to improve the areas where our state has been hurting – in particular our state’s poor literacy levels.
We currently have no method in place that offers career advancement opportunities for our teachers. This new legislation creates a program that will recognize “distinguished educators” within our schools and will create a career ladder for our state’s well-performing teachers. This provides our teachers with incentives to improve and also rewards them for greater performance inside the classroom.
Education reform could not have been complete without addressingConnecticut’s large achievement gap. A pilot program has been created to enhance the literacy of our students from kindergarten to third grade, making our young ones more prepared at an early age and helping close our achievement gap. This bill has also opened access to high-quality early childhood education opportunities, which includes the opening of 1,000 new pre-school slots in low-income communities – a number for which I have strongly advocated.
I will work diligently in the Education Committee to build upon this new framework and certain our children have the best education possible. I will also monitor the communication and collaboration between the State Department of Education and teachers to make sure it is frequent and effective.
On a somber note, we all know of a family inStamfordwho was recently dealt a horrible misfortune. The tragic fire that took the young lives of 10-year-old Lily Badger, 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, and the lives of their maternal grandparents Lomer and Pauline Johnson.
From this tragedy we have learned the important difference between homes containing working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and homes that do not contain theses critical and life-saving measures can be the difference between life and death. I fought for legislation that improves the Fire Safety Code by the provision for carbon monoxide detection, smoke detection and warning equipment in all residential buildings. I also crafted legislation to provide building inspectors the option of ceasing interior alterations or additions if smoke detection and, when warranted, CO detection equipment are absent in a building that will be occupied during the period these interior alterations or additions are being performed. Regrettably, and to my dismay, this language was struck at the last minute in the Senate. I will fight tirelessly next session to make it law.
One of the most highly debated and perhaps the most crucial piece of legislation passed this year was the vote to place a cap on the Gross Receipts Tax on gasoline. Connecticut’s Gross Receipts Tax is a 7.53 percent tax rate on the wholesale price of gasoline and costs consumers roughly 25 cents per gallon—a figure that increases every time the price of gas rises.
After much pressure from my fellow Republican colleagues and I, the majority leaders inHartfordagreed to permanently cap the gross receipts tax at three-dollars in place of just a year-long cap which they originally proposed. While I am pleased by the progress made on this issue, I am afraid that the underlying problem of skyrocketing gas prices still has not been solved.
Unfortunately, to the disadvantage of all people living and working inConnecticut, the majority party shot down the Republican proposal to lock the 7.53 percentage rate before it increases again to 8.1 percent next summer. As history has shown, the wholesale price of gasoline will surely increase next year. This legislation was a great start but it did not go far enough to protect our consumers from paying large amounts for gasoline in the future.
This year, democrats in the legislature also supported a controversial plan led by Governor Malloy that not only forces thousands of personal care attendants into unions, but makes thousands of family daycare providers accept a particular state subsidy—whether they like it or not. A vote for this came on the House Floor after Governor Malloy imposed two Executive Orders creating separate councils and workgroups designed to review the issue of unionization and report on their findings.
This was an issue I could not support. I use personal care attendants (PCAs), and all the funds I use to pay for them come out of my pocket. Under this bill, PCA’s will be receiving benefits that sound pretty enticing, and these incentives will price me, and anyone else who shares my situation, right out of the competitive process. My only other choice then would be to stop working, declare unemployment and begin to receive state aid so I can actually afford to have a PCA help me through my daily life. In this case, we’re not only talking about the shrinking of the PCA work force, we could be looking at the increase of the customer base of the state .This bill is a very scary proposition for me, and I know I’m not just speaking for myself – I’m speaking for everyone who is in a similar situation.
One piece of healthcare legislation I fought for was a bill changing the current regulations on hospice facilities to give hospice patients more comfort and security. This legislation removes regulations that forced local facilities like the Richard L. Rosenthal Hospice Residence inStamfordto close. The legislation provides people with hospice care in multiple forms, including at-home care, instead of only hospital-based care which was stipulated in previous law. Increased access to at-home care will enable families who have been looking for a more comfortable and peaceful setting to keep their loved ones in their local communities, not miles away.
It has been my absolute honor and privilege to represent the people of the 144th district in the General Assembly. There have been many significant pieces of legislation which passed last year – some good, some bad. Never-the-less, I will continue make sure the voices and concerns of the people ofStamford are heard in the halls of the State Capitol.
As always, I welcome your input on these and all issues coming before the legislature. Please contact me at any time with your thoughts and questions by either calling me at 800-842-1423 or emailing me at Mike.Molgano@housegop.ct.gov