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Connecticut Retail Merchants Association Names Candelora Legislator of the Year

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HARTFORD— State Rep. Vincent Candelora, has been named Legislator of the Year by the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association (CRMA) for his commitment to understanding the issues of retail merchants and for advocating tirelessly on their behalf in the legislature.

Candelora, the House Republican Deputy Leader, was honored by CRMA at the 18th Annual Awards Luncheon on Oct. 4 in Hartford.

CRMA President Tim Phelan said, “Candelora is not only a great legislator, he is a great friend of the retail industry. He understands our issues like very few in the legislature do and we know that we can always count on him to appreciate the challenges you face day in and day out.”

CRMA specifically mentioned Candelora’s efforts of understanding what it takes to run a retail business as he is a retailer himself. Specifically CRMA president noted that one of the purposes of the ceremony was to: “say thank you to a public servant who cares deeply about Connecticut and the retail industry.”

Candelora said receiving the Legislator of the Year award from the CRMA president was a real honor.

“This is certainly not something I expected, it’s truly an honor. CRMA is a terrific organization that works to understand the unique struggles and needs of retail merchants in today’s economy,’’ Candelora said.

Candelora Urges Override of Governor’s Veto

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HARTFORD – State Representative Vincent Candelora today expressed disappointment that the Governor vetoed the only state budget to pass the General Assembly with bipartisan support. Legislators now are calling on support to override the veto.

“Sadly, Governor Malloy has vetoed our budget and somehow believes that Connecticut is better off. He has no viable alternatives and would rather cut local schools $600 million, shift teacher retirement costs to our towns, and continue to underfund necessary social services,” said State Rep. Candelora. “The Democrat Majority in the General Assembly really needs to consider overriding this veto. Republicans are ready, willing and able.”

Myths vs. Facts Bipartisan Budget

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Does the budget decimate UConn/UConn Health Center?

The Republican budget passed with bipartisan support by the legislature provides $1 billion in state aid to UConn and UConn Health Center over two years. This is a $200.1 million reduction to the anticipated $1.2 billion in state aid UConn would have received had the university not been touched by any budget cuts. While this is a cut of approximately 17%, this budget also for the first time allows for purchasing and contracting flexibility so the university can save money and enhance revenues in other ways that do not rely on taxpayer dollars.

There are policy changes that will allow in direct savings for UConn; like requiring professors to teach one additional class and eliminating the tuition waivers that allow UConn and UCHC employees and their dependents to attend UConn for free. Yes there are cuts to UConn, like every other agency. The difference between other state agencies and our flagship university to raise revenue or trim costs are substantial. UConn has alternative ways to support their organization through the school’s Foundation and fundraising or additional federal grants for research. While we have supported large investments over the years, we simply cannot afford it until our state is back on course. UConn still has an extremely healthy budget and now even greater flexibility to attain funding in ways that do not overly burden taxpayers. All of those avenues should be explored fully and pursued.

It’s also important to note that UConn is overstating it’s reductions by using the fiscal year 2017 original budget as the base, rather than what they actually received in 2017. It is only fair to compare the actual dollars taxpayers invested last year.

Does this budget change hospital taxes?

The budget proposed by Republicans and passed with a bipartisan vote in the legislature does not allow municipalities to tax local hospitals and preserves the small hospital pool. It also accepts the hospital settlement agreed to by the Connecticut Hospital Association and the governor’s office which includes tax changes our state hospitals lobbied for and meets all their requests to help them operate more efficiently and better meet the needs of their patients. This budget will also phase out the hospital tax over time and increases Medicaid rates which protect hospitals from changes on the federal level.

What does it do to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)?

The Republican budget that garnered bipartisan support in the legislature would implement a graduated schedule for the Earned Income Tax Credit which provides 5% for single individuals, 10% for those with one child, 15% for those with two children, 25% for those with three or more children. By implementing a graduated scale we can make sure to preserve as much of the credit as possible for those who need the support most. Unfortunately facing a massive deficit of historic size we had to make the difficult decision to reduce this program in part to protect other core social services including SAGA. In addition, there are some who say a case could be made that it is not actually a tax cut, as over 80% of recipients never paid state income tax. Regardless on your opinions about the program–we prioritize children in the graduated scale model we worked hard to define.

Does this budget better serve the I/DD Community?

It is the only budget to fully fund day and employment services for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. It also does not carry forward reductions imposed by Governor Malloy to employment and day opportunities services for the intellectually disabled. In addition it adds funding to help individuals on the wait list access services.

Is this budget balanced?

Yes, OFA shows surpluses of $70 million surplus in 2018 and $40 million surplus in 2019.

How do we balance the budget?

– We rein in government as much as we can. We consolidate agencies and eliminate top heavy positions like Commissioners and their deputies.

– We make targeted spending cuts while simultaneously protecting core services.

– We implement 10% reductions to certain agency accounts.

– We implement overtime savings of 10 percent, a hiring freeze of non-24-hour employees, and cut the legislature’s budget.

– We include long-needed structural changes to achieve future savings such as a strong spending cap and bonding cap. The Democrat budget included a spending cap which recommends not counting our growing pension debt.

Why does OFA show a deficit in the out years?

All budgets proposed show deficit in the out years because the state’s financial problems cannot be resolved in one year. That being said, the Republican out year deficits are less than what was projected in the Democrats’ budget which includes many new tax policies like cell phones and non-prescription medicine (for example, in FY20 the Republican budget shows $1.2 billion deficit while the Democrat budget shows $1.4 billion deficit. In 2021, Republican budget shows $2 billion deficit while Democrat budget shows $2.1 billion deficit.) However, unlike the Democrat budget, the Republican budget also includes tax reductions to pension income, social security income, and inheritance/estate tax. We have heard our retirees and seniors loud and clear! They want to stay here and we want them here, too. These tax reductions contribute to the deficit on the surface because we are taking in less revenue, but they are likely to actually lower the deficit once implemented by sparking economic growth. In addition, the Republican budget contains a strict spending cap (as voted for nearly 25 years ago, but never enacted) and other long term structural changes to achieve future savings, restore confidence in our state, and therefore have a positive effect on the economy that cannot be calculated by OFA in the projections they show.

Does this budget change taxpayer funding for campaigns?

This budget eliminates taxpayer funding for political campaigns under the “Citizens Election Program” (CEP). The state cannot keep up with managing funds for this program that is a mere shadow of the original program meant to keep elections clean. In an extremely challenging budget year, this budget makes the decision to end taxpayer funding for political candidates – an expense which is expected to balloon to $50 million for the next election cycle with no additional money to be found in escheats which has previously funded the program. Democrats have actually underfunded this program in their own budget proposal by $10 million also putting the program in jeopardy because the state simply does not have the funds to support what this program has grown into.

Does this budget change teacher pension contributions?

This is not a tax on teachers. This budget does increase contributions teachers’ pay towards their own retirement from 6% to 8% at maximum, which remains below the national average of over 10% for teacher contributions. It was important in this budget to minimize the increase while also stabilizing this fund so the state can keep the promises it makes to our teachers who dedicate their lives to serving our state and its students. This is an increase that teachers pay into their own pensions; therefore it is all money that every single teacher gets back when they retire as it is part of their retirement savings. This is money that will be used to make the teachers’ pension plan more solvent and benefit teachers in the long run. In addition, this budget does not shift any teacher retirement costs onto towns and cities. Shifting any portion of this opens the door to more burdens being placed on municipalities and taxpayers. This is the state’s responsibility and we stood firm on not letting the state push off any amount of this obligation onto our cities and towns.

To make sure that the intentions behind the legislation adopted by the General Assembly are crystal clear, since partisan folks are distorting those intentions— the leadership of the Republican caucuses will put a request in writing immediately to the Teacher’s Retirement Board (TRB). While normally the TRB sets the state contribution amount every two years, this is too important to wait for the normal process. The money will be held in the General Fund UNTIL the TRB sets the amount as required.

Our intentions are crystal clear. This money will be deposited to the teacher’s pension fund, as was explained during the budget debate. Period.

Here is a link to the Teacher’s Retirement Systems latest evaluation: http://www.ct.gov/trb/lib/trb/forms…

THREE CHOICES FOR TEACHERS

  • Support the bipartisan budget that gradually increases the pension contributions for teachers 2%, while also keeping the income tax exemption of 50% promised in the last session. This budget also promises level funding for every school district.
  • Support the Democrats proposed budget that passes a significant portion of the teacher’s pension payments to local taxpayers and municipalities. This mandate will force towns to consider laying off teachers or programs and their education funding cuts many communities. It also fails to keep the promise to exempt 50% of their income tax, dropping it down to 25% retroactively to January 1st 2017.
  • Support the Governor’s Executive Order which slashed education funding by almost $600 million and passes the burden of the teacher’s pension fund onto taxpayers.

The Harmful Effects of Collective Bargaining in Connecticut

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It’s with great dismay that I inform you of the legislature’s recent activity. On July 24, a new state employee union concessions deal was passed by the Democrat-controlled majority in the State House of Representatives. On July 31, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman cast the tie-breaking vote in the State Senate to cement the agreement’s passage.  Despite passage of this agreement, Connecticut still does not have a budget.  It seems the Democrat majority is attempting to incrementally pass a budget with this latest vote, and this strategy is undoubtedly leading to tax increases and municipal aid cuts.  They will claim these decisions are inevitable, but I disagree.  They are causing a greater fiscal crisis.

This recently approved ten-year union agreement will undoubtedly have harmful effects on Connecticut’s economy for decades. Despite the efforts of Republicans in both the House and Senate, the legislature approved this new union contract. After its implementation we can surely expect the following: an increase in taxes, cuts to important social services and reduced funding for municipalities. All of this is done to account for obligated wage increases, benefits, and guaranteed employment for unionized state employees.

While the agreement does increase the amount that state employees pay toward their pensions and health care, it caps those increases leaving the state to fund any health care cost overruns over the next decade.  The agreement includes several changes to existing individual union contracts that actually increases costs for the state. I’d like to point out an important discrepancy within this contract – the benefits of unionized state employees continue to dramatically exceed the benefits that municipal union employees and private sector employees in Connecticut receive.  All of these benefits ultimately are driving tax rates up and leading to the out migration of our residents, including our retired state employees, over a third of which have left Connecticut.

On top of that, this agreement limits the state’s ability to privatize or find ways to make government more efficient by consolidating services or departments through a no layoff provision.  So while our non-profits who perform the same services at a lower cost than the state are forced to operate with less funding, our state agencies have guaranteed funding.

At face value, this new contract and the state’s budget appears to be balanced for the first fiscal year (FY ‘17-FY ‘18), but the reality is that it will ultimately have harmful effects on the state’s ability to attract new business and grow jobs. What’s even more damaging to Connecticut is that it will surely lead to massive deficits in the future and further perpetuate the tax-and-spend mentality that has drained the state’s taxpayers and businesses for so many years already.  For ten years, I have fought these type of bad fiscal decisions, and I am amazed that Governor Malloy and the Democrats in the legislature continue down this path expecting a different outcome.  I’m becoming more convinced that the only way this state will change is with a change in the political makeup of the legislature.

Rep. Candelora Announces North Branford Town Hall Meeting

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North Branford – The public is invited to a Town Hall Meeting with State Representative Vincent Candelora on Wednesday, August 9, at North Branford Town Hall, Council Chambers, located at 909 Foxon Rd., in North Branford from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to express any concerns they may have and to ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget.

This event is free and open to the public.

 

Area Legislators Announce Wallingford End of Session Wrap-Up

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The public is invited to an End of Session Wrap-Up with State Representatives Vincent Candelora and Craig Fishbein, along with State Senator Len Fasano on Tuesday, July 18, at Wallingford Town Hall, Council Chambers, located at 45 S. Main St., in Wallingford from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to express any concerns they may have and to ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget.

This event is free and open to the public.

Major Public Acts Now Available

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Every year, the Office of Legislative Research (OLR), the Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA), and the Legislative Commissioners’ Office (LCO) compile a report of the major issues passed during the 2017 Legislative Session.

However, this year, the report does not include an OFA budget summary because the General Assembly did not adopt a budget by the end of the regular session. A supplemental report will be issued when that information becomes available.

OLR provides brief descriptions on a number of issues in this report including legislation on opioid drugs, education, transportation and the state’s business climate, among others.

I encourage you to take a look at the full report by clicking here.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (860)-240-8700 or Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov. You can also follow my legislative activity on my website at www.RepCandelora.com.

Area Legislators Announce Durham End of Session Wrap-Up

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Durham- The public is invited to an End of Session Wrap-Up with State Representatives Vincent Candelora and Noreen Kokoruda, along with State Senator Len Fasano on Wednesday, June 28, at Durham Town Hall, located at 30 Townhouse Road, Third Floor Meeting Room in Durham from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

This meeting is an opportunity for residents to express any concerns they may have and to ask questions about specific pieces of legislation or the state budget.

This event is free and open to the public.

 

VIDEO: Rep. Candelora Provides Legislative Update

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Rep. Candelora Supports Opioid Awareness Bill

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HARTFORD – On Wednesday, May 31, in the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee, State Rep. Vincent Candelora supported a bi-partisan proposal to implement additional addiction prevention measures for opioid abuse.

The legislation, HB 7052, An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion and Abuse, would help state agencies better prevent prescription opioid diversion and abuse through education and prevention.

This bill contains various provisions on controlled substance abuse prevention, particularly as it relates to opioid drugs. This bill would:

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