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Rep. Floren, Greenwich Delegation Attend New Lebanon Groundbreaking

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Greenwich Delegation Secures Funding to Supplement the School’s Construction Costs

GREENWICH – State Representatives Livvy Floren (R-149), Mike Bocchino (R-150), Fred Camillo (R-151) and State Senator Scott Frantz (R-36) joined local leaders, educators, students and residents for the historic groundbreaking ceremony of New Lebanon School’s state-of-the-art facility, which is scheduled to open in February of 2019.

Reps. Camillo, Floren and Sen. Frantz celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony with New Lebanon students.

The project was ultimately approved for the diversity grant offered by the state following a lengthy budget session. The final two-year spending and revenue plan, which passed on October 26, included funding for the new building amounting to about 80 percent of the expected $37 million construction costs. This will allow Greenwich to come into compliance with a state mandate. The legislators had dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to this project, which finally paid off this morning.

“This year we needed to make some difficult decisions regarding the state budget,” said Rep. Floren. “The one area that was nonnegotiable for us was education. We are all committed to these students and view this as a priority for the town. We fought hard to secure funding for New Lebanon because these students and their parents were counting on this grant to make this a reality. Once completed, this state-of-the-art facility will provide a safe, inclusive and structured learning environment for our young scholars.”

Reps. Camillo, Bocchino, Floren and Sen. Frantz stand in front of the future site of the New Lebanon School. The exiting building (top right) will eventually be torn down to make room for a parking lot.

“This is the culmination of months of hard work and dedication by all parties involved,” said Rep. Bocchino. “The staff, faculty and student body at New Lebanon has outgrown the existing facility. Once the new building is complete, these students will have the space, resources and environment necessary to help them reach their full potential. Thank you to everyone who has contributed during this process. It was a long road and we faced tremendous resistance along the way, but seeing the excitement on the students’ faces this morning made it worth every second.”

“Education is a top priority for the Town of Greenwich and the state at large,” said Rep. Camillo. “We spent countless hours meeting with the commissioner, Governor’s office,  and legislative leaders to gain final approval. We had a plan, we followed through, and we were successful. Seeing the hundreds of smiles on the faces of the New Lebanon students  made that effort more than worthwhile. It is a project that we in the Town of Greenwich can all be proud of.”

Budget Impasse Comes to an End – Rep. Livvy Floren Supports Bipartisan Plan to Reform Connecticut Finances

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HARTFORD – State Representative Livvy Floren (R-149) voted in favor of a two-year budget that averts Gov. Malloy’s devastating education cuts to cities and towns and installs structural municipal mandate reform that will provide long-term relief sought by local leaders and the taxpayers they serve.

In a historic accomplishment that would have been impossible just a one year ago, House and Senate Republicans exerted considerable influence over the final budget plan by incorporating long sought after items. These items include a spending and bond cap, mandatory votes on labor contracts, no income or sales tax increases, and equitable educational aid to cities and towns. This budget averted the governor’s harmful spending cuts to core social service programs while rejecting several tax proposals that had been introduced this year for consideration, namely on cell phones, restaurants and tolls.

“This was not a day for gloating celebration, but a day for hope,” said Rep. Floren. “We have a lot of hard work ahead to get our state moving forward. I believe this bipartisan budget deal paves the way for long-term fiscal responsibility, economic growth and sustainable state government. I am proud of the work we have done this year, and look forward to making further progress in the years to come.”

The budget passed the Senate early Thursday morning in a 33-3 vote, soon followed by a 126-23 vote in the House. The bill now awaits Gov. Malloy’s signature. If he vetoes the bill, the House and Senate have the votes to override his decision.

Please click here to watch Rep. Floren’s remarks on the bond package and the bipartisan budget.

Rep. Floren Presents Scott and Icy Frantz with David N. Theis Award for Community Service

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Congratulations to Scott and Icy Frantz for receiving the David N. Theis Award for outstanding service to the community! They work tirelessly to make our community a better place to live, work and raise a family, and their generosity and unconditional support make them exemplary role models in town. The award is presented annually in honor of the late Greenwich Selectman David N. Theis, who passed away in 2014. Dave’s devotion to his constituents and the community continues to inspire others to follow in his footsteps.

Please click on the image to the left to read the full Greenwich Time article.

 

Rep. Livvy Floren Introduces Boys/Girls State Delegates at RTM – Greenwich

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Boys/Girls State, sponsored by the American Legion, are programs that provides high school students across the country with the opportunity to participate in civil engagement and discourse, preparing them for careers in public service. I was proud to introduce these bright young students at the Representative Town Meeting this past week. Their future is promising, and I feel confident that the next generation will be able to handle the state, national and global challenges ahead.

 

Urge Gov. Malloy to Sign Bipartisan Budget!

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In the early hours of Saturday morning, September 16, something historic happened in Hartford. After hours of debate, and months of budget impasse, the General Assembly, in a bipartisan effort, passed a two-year, balanced budget package drafted by House and Senate Republicans.

From day one, Republicans have consistently called for a no-tax-increase budget that erases the deficit and lays the foundation for a steady economic recovery in Connecticut. With the announcements of Alexion’s departure, credit downgrades and financial struggles at the local level, Connecticut is out of time.

I commend the efforts of our Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate for placing party politics aside for the greater good. We believe this plan will stabilize our state’s finances and encourage future investment.

Despite our success in the legislature, the bill is now at the mercy of Governor Malloy, who has publicly threatened to veto the budget that we already approved on your behalf.

The link below will provide you with detailed information about the budget.

General Assembly Bipartisan Budget Agreement: H.B. 7501

If you agree that this budget is an effective way to address our state’s fiscal challenges, please contact Governor Malloy’s office at 800-406-1527 and ask him to sign this bipartisan budget. Vetoing this budget is not a solution and only prolongs our challenges.

Rep. Floren, Republican State Lawmakers Release Revised No-Tax-Increase Budget

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Hartford – On Tuesday, September 12, 2017, State Representative Livvy Floren (R-149) joined fellow Republican lawmakers to release a revised two-year state budget proposal with no new taxes that would put a stop to the governor’s executive order, restore funding for education and core social services, and provide stability for towns and cities.

The revised budget proposal offered by Senate and House Republicans includes no tax increases and rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto towns and cities that would further burden municipalities and lead to increased property taxes. The Republican budget proposal combines elements of the Senate and House Republicans’ multiple prior budget proposals released earlier this year, feedback from Democrat lawmakers and the governor, and factors in the legislature’s passage of the state employee labor concessions deal that is now law.

“When drafting a budget, whether for your household, your business or your state government, self-discipline should always be the end game,” said Rep. Floren. “It is tempting to spend more and more when times are good, but when you fall upon difficult times, like Connecticut has, you have to ask yourself, why didn’t I prepare for this sooner? This new budget proposal is not perfect, but it is practical, and that’s exactly what we need right now. We have focused our state spending on the core functions of government to ensure that our neediest citizens will be taken care of, that our students will have a chance to succeed in the modern economy, and that our infrastructure will be able to support the private sector growth we hope to achieve in the near future. I am confident that we can all come together to do the right thing for our state.”

No New Taxes

The revised Republican budget contains no new taxes. It does not increase or expand the sales tax, hospital tax or income tax. It also rejects the governor’s proposal to shift teacher pension costs onto municipalities as such a policy change would likely result in property tax increases

Reduces Taxes

The Republican budget enacts two policies that will reduce taxes for retirees by phasing in a tax exemption for Social Security and pension income for middle income families. In addition, the Republican budget also restores the entire $200 property tax credit for all qualifying families and individuals. Under Governor Malloy’s tenure this tax credit has been reduced from $500 and we believe that property tax owners deserve a break on their taxes.

Increases Education Funding

The Republican budget rejects the governor’s devastating education cuts contained in his budget proposal and executive order entirely. It instead includes a fully revised Education Cost Sharing Formula that takes into account factors regarding recent court decisions, enrollment, poverty, wealth and number of English Language Learners, among other factors. This budget dedicates $33.6 million more to education in FY 2018 and $136.6 million more in FY 2019 and phases in a new formula over 10 years. It also establishes a council to analyze and make any necessary changes to the new formula within the next year if deemed necessary.  In 2018 all towns and cities will either be held harmless or gain more ECS funding.

Municipal Support and Mandate Relief

This budget provides predictable municipal aid so that towns and cities know what they can count on from the state. This plan does not ask towns and cities to pay for teacher retirement costs as the governor’s proposal does.  It also implements significant mandate relief for cities and towns to help municipalities achieve efficiencies and pass savings on to taxpayers.

Funds Core Social Services

This revised budget maintains Republican proposals to restore funding for core social services and programs that benefit people most in need. It fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, reopens Care4Kids, protects funding for SAGA that supports disabled residents who are unable to work, funds school based health clinics and family resource centers, restores funding for mental health services among many other programs.

Prioritizes Transportation

The Republican budget recognizes the importance of a safe, modern transportation system to public safety and economic growth throughout our state. Therefore, this budget prioritizes the state’s transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls or new taxes. It implements the Republican “Prioritize Progress” transportation funding plan and stabilizes the state’s Special Transportation Plan by dedicating transportation-related revenues to fund transportation needs and protects monies in the state’s Special Transportation Fund from being diverted for other uses.

Supports Seniors

The Republican budget lowers taxes for retirees by immediately eliminating the tax on social security and phasing in an elimination of taxation of pension income for single filers with an AGI below $75,000 and joint filers below $100,000. It also helps seniors age in place by restoring funding for core programs such as Meals on Wheels, the personal needs allowance, non ADA dial a ride, and the CT Home Care Program.

Employment and Day Opportunities for the Intellectually Disabled

Our budget fully funds employment and day opportunities for new high school graduates over the biennium, nor does the Republican Budget carry forward reductions imposed by Governor Malloy to employment and day opportunities services for the intellectually disabled.

Funds State Parks & Tourism

Acknowledging the multiplier effect that tourism has on our economy, the Republican budget proposes to transfer 1.5% of the current hotel occupancy tax to a new Marketing, Culture and Tourism account. This is not a new tax as Democrats have proposed. Rather, it dedicates a portion of the current tax for its intended purpose to boost tourism funding. This budget also implements the Passports to Parks program that has garnered bipartisan support in the legislature.

Reduces Size of Government

The Republican budget proposal implements a freeze on overtime, a hiring freeze on non-24-hour non-union positions, and makes cuts to the legislature such as reducing the number of legislative committees. The budget also makes targeted spending cuts, 10 percent reductions to certain agency accounts, and rolls forward lapses made last year except for cuts to core services such as grants for mental health and substance abuse and youth service bureau funding.

Includes Structural Changes

In addition to balancing the budget over the next two years, this budget includes policy changes that roll out into future years to achieve significant savings. Changes include items such as a spending cap, bonding cap, municipal mandate relief, and other policy changes for long term savings. The budget also implements pension reform beginning after the SEBAC deal ends in 2027 that will result in some immediate savings as calculated in an actuarial analysis.

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Opinion by Rep. Livvy Floren – Greenwich Public Schools and the Need for Capitol Capital

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John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” He obviously had Greenwich in mind. As we welcome our new Superintendent, Dr. Jill Gildea, and prepare to elect four members of the Board of Education on November 7th, we should look back at what has been accomplished in the past few years with a sense of pride and look forward to the future with optimism. We have a good school system, and we are in the process of making it a great one.

What are we doing in the General Assembly to reach the goal of a quality education for Connecticut students? For starters, we are trying very hard to make sure that all 169 cities and towns receive a fair share of education aid. The current Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula doesn’t add up. There should be more equitable distribution, and special education mandates should be paid for by the convening authority, usually the federal government. We hope to craft a new funding mechanism that takes into consideration property taxes and success rates – rewarding academically achieving schools and returning more money to the districts where the taxes were collected.

Some good news: Greenwich is ahead of the curve in school construction reimbursement. We began two decades ago to build needed classroom and school additions and have received reimbursement for projects at Hamilton Avenue and Glenville Schools and the Greenwich High School Performing Arts Center. We are currently in the pipeline for school construction dollars for New Lebanon School.

However, merely throwing money at schools is not the solution. Accountability is necessary … as is a culture of parental involvement in the learning process. I have long supported early English and universal school readiness programs for three-and four-year-olds. Creativity is needed to address teacher certification, retirement, housing and transportation. We also need to confront the complex societal problems that our public schools reflect.

A recent child care study put the situation in perspective: “Being an educator isn’t what it used to be.  Huck Finn is a delinquent. Tom Sawyer isn’t working up to capacity. Heidi is in foster care. Jim Hawkins is too young to get working papers … and who would allow Alice to sit and dream away an unscheduled summer afternoon?”

It’s not only sufficient to know the curriculum material but also necessary to understand how to convey that information to students with vastly unique and varied backgrounds. That’s where our educational dollars are best spent and why we need to continue to empower local school boards to set standards and determine what best meets the needs of their communities.

Education is a top priority for our town and our state. We have a lot to do, and, together, we can – and we will — get it done.

Rep. Floren Attends Greenwich Public School Convocation – August 28, 2017

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PHOTOS: Greenwich Public Schools Convocation is a Warm Welcome Back

As we sadly bid farewell to summer vacation, we proudly welcomed Greenwich’s 2017 faculty and staff at Convocation on August 28, 2017. Greenwich is fortunate to have such a talented and devoted group of educators who work tirelessly to provide a world-class education to their students. Thank you to our teachers for your great work and best of luck to our students in the new school year!

Please take a moment to check out the Greenwich Free Press article and their outstanding coverage of the event. Follow link above for full story.

 

Rep. Floren Attends and Speaks at the Grand Opening of UConn-Stamford’s First Dormitory

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The UConn-Stamford residential dorm is now open. I was proud to join UConn President Susan Herbst, Gov. Dan Malloy, Reps. Terrie Wood, Pat Miller and Caroline Simmons, Sens. Tony Hwang, Toni Boucher, Bob Duff and Carlo Leone, and other officials at the official opening yesterday morning. The new, 6-floor facility will feature 116 units including 10 studios, 57 two-bedrooms and 49 one-bedroom units, with a target occupancy of 290 students.
This is a great moment for the school as it continues to expand its presence in southwestern Connecticut, and certainly for the students who now have access to this state-of-the-art facility. Congratulations to the university and the city of Stamford!

Rep. Floren Attend High-Speed Rail Discussion in Greenwich (Greenwich Time Article)

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Rep. Floren and fellow Greenwich state and local officials attended a crowded meeting at Town Hall regarding the potential high-speed rail project, which could run through the community. Greg Stroud, Ph.D., of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, spoke of possible impact on the town’s historical and cultural sites.

Please click here to read the full Greenwich Time article by Ken Borsuk (photo by Bob Luckey Jr.).