Rep. Frey Urges Legislative Committee to Address Pension Reform: “It’s the Only Way Connecticut Can Move Forward”


HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) submitted proposals to the Appropriations Committee for two state pension reform measures this session, calling them “our best chance to reduce the budget deficit.”  Unfunded pension liabilities have grown exponentially over the past 20 years, having more than doubled since 2010 to a total of $33.5 billion now.

Rep. Frey’s first proposal calls for prohibiting state elected officials from receiving state pensions. The second bill proposal would eliminate factors such as overtime compensation and mileage reimbursements from pension calculations.  He proposed similar bills regarding pension reform last year, but neither concept ended up in the final budget package.

“Our unfunded pension liabilities represent the single most formidable obstacle to fixing Connecticut’s historic fiscal crisis and finally putting us on the path to economic recovery,” said Rep. Frey.  “The state made mistakes at several junctures offering labor unions sweetheart contracts that were unaffordable and economic growth has been too sluggish to pull ourselves out of that hole.  In spite of the majority party passing the SEBAC agreement to lock in that bad deal for another ten years, I will continue to advocate for sensible reform measures rather than going back to tax increases and cuts to core government services again.  We really don’t have a choice at this point.”

Rep. Frey contends that stopping the practice of giving state elected officials state pensions is “a good place to begin” to address Connecticut’s ballooning pension costs.

“Connecticut has a part-time legislature, which means all legislators have access to other pension plans because no one can rely solely on their legislative salaries for their livelihoods,” said Rep. Frey.  “Our state’s pension plan is preferable to even the federal pension plan and we can’t afford to be this generous.  Eliminating public pensions for elected officials is unlikely to be popular among many of my colleagues, but given our dismal fiscal situation, it is a practical place to start looking for savings – especially when the governor and majority party continue to push more tax hikes and new fees.”

The 2017 SEBAC union contract represented another instance of the legislature delaying making payments to unfunded pension liabilities and 2/3rd of the State Employees Retirement System remains unfunded, something Rep. Frey believes can be addressed by changing how state employees’ pensions are calculated.

“Pension calculation based only on stated income really isn’t a radical concept, especially for anyone who works in the private sector,” said Rep. Frey.  “The practice of including longevity pay, overtime pay, and mileage reimbursements into pension calculations is part of the reason our liabilities have gotten out of control.  At some point, we have to realize that this is not sustainable.”

“Since the beginning of the 2018 session, we have heard from the governor and from the majority party that the only answer to our fiscal mess is to raise taxes and to institute new fees like tolls, which is basically the state asking it’s taxpayers to bail them out for its irresponsible decisions,” said Rep. Frey.  “It is imperative to me that the people of Connecticut understand that raising taxes is not the only course of action for us; we do not have a revenue problem.  We have a state spending problem and identifying areas where we can save money on unfunded pension liabilities is a necessary alternative to consider.  I will be fighting against tax hikes and in favor of pension reform.”

Rep. Frey Takes Aim at Gender Wage Discrimination with Proposed Bill to Improve Protections for Employees


HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) has proposed legislation to the Labor Committee that addresses gender wage discrimination in Connecticut by changing labor laws regarding employment.  Citing his previous support of pay equity between men and women, he announced his interest in helping craft a bipartisan bill that addresses the issue with input from the business community.

At present, the Labor Committee has raised two bills regarding pay equity: Senate Bill 15 – An Act Concerning Fair and Equal Pay for Equal Work, and House Bill 5386 – An Act Concerning Various Pay Equity and Fairness Matters.  Rep. Frey, a former Ranking Member of the Labor Committee, has long supported “equal pay for equal work,” having voted in favor of a labor bill addressing pay equity and fairness in 2015 that became law and a bill that passed the House last year but died in the Senate.

Rep. Frey specified a main component that he would like to see in a final bill, which is amending the 2015 labor law to insert a provision that keeps employers from docking a workers’ seniority because of time spent on leave because of pregnancy or protected family leave. He also would support a bill that contains a provision prohibiting employees from asking a prospective employee about their wage history before an offer of employment is made and accepted, and preventing an employee’s prior wage history from being used as a defense to a claim of wage discrimination.

“Building on past pay equity efforts, we want to address gender wage discrimination in Connecticut and find a bipartisan solution without restricting the ability of businesses to profit – a goal I think is possible with the framework I have submitted to amend labor laws,” said Rep. Frey.  “While some elements of the wage gap – such as specific occupation and education level – are difficult to address with legislation, we should act where appropriate in order to ensure employees are treated fairly.  I am working to add practical new language to our labor laws that would prevent employers from engaging in discriminatory hiring practices, whether the discrimination is intentional or not.”

In a related effort to help families and businesses, Rep. Frey is also seeking to enhance private sector employee benefits with a bill that would establish a tax credit for businesses that provide paid family and medical leave.  HB 5103 was introduced by Rep. Frey and currently awaits action in the Finance Committee, which he sits on.

“Businesses benefit when employees are able to maintain a healthy balance between work and family, so we need to help make it financially viable for employers to offer programs like paid family and medical leave,” said Rep. Frey.  “It is a model that rewards businesses who offer this benefit, rather than punishing those who don’t.  Connecticut has a poor reputation as an anti-business state, so we need to proceed with practicality, which this bill would do.”

“Gender pay equity and paid family leave are two areas where the state could act this year in a way that offers protections and clear benefits to families, while also working towards creating an environment that is friendlier to business. I reject the notion that allowing businesses to thrive and demanding fair treatment of employees have to be mutually exclusive concepts.” added Rep. Frey.

As the 2018 session progresses, Rep. Frey says he intends to work with his colleagues from both parties to craft and advocate for legislation that helps working families.

Rep. Frey Presents State Citation in Honor of Local Girl Scout’s Recycling Drive for Charity


Rep. Frey with Kyela McGuire of Ridgefield

RIDGEFIELD — Rep. John Frey (R-111) on Friday attended a ceremony to present a state citation to Kyela McGuire, a local Girl Scout who recycled over 20,000 bottles and cans in the last few months to raise money for social service organizations.  At the presentation, Kyela also presented a check for $1,004 to both Ridgefield Social Services and Meals on Wheels.

The state citation honored Kyela’s altruistic service to her community and for providing a stellar example for others to do similar work.

Rep. Frey honored a local Girl Scout with a State Citation

Rep. Frey with Kyela and Debra Franceschini-Gatje (Meals on Wheels Volunteer Board)

Rep. Frey Critical of Governor’s Budget Proposals that Lead with Taxes on Seniors and the Middle Class


HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) voiced sharp criticism of the series of tax increases and new fees proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy in his guidelines for revisions to the 2018-2019 budget.  The governor detailed his budget proposal early this week before delivering his final State of the State address on Wednesday to a joint session of the legislature.

Rep. Frey noted the conspicuous absence in the governor’s speech of any reference to Connecticut’s struggling economy or its $245 million budget deficit for the current year, as he called for new spending programs such as free community college.

“It should not come as a shock to anyone in Ridgefield or across Connecticut that our state is in a permanent fiscal crisis as a result of several years of awful budgets, yet last week the governor had the audacity to completely ignore the economy as well as our persistent deficits and instead focus on partisan rhetoric that made his State of the State sound more like an audition tape for a career as a cable news pundit,” said Rep. Frey.  “Connecticut’s failing economy is the most critical issue affecting people in this state, so it’s hard to believe the governor is being serious with a budget proposal that relies on a medley of tax hikes, fee increases, and assumed revenue from installing tolls throughout the states.”

Among the governor’s proposals are: installing tolls on Connecticut’s highways; eliminating the property tax credit for seniors and taxpayers with dependents; eliminating tax breaks on Social Security and pension income; increasing the real estate conveyance tax; increasing the gas, hotel, and restaurant taxes; a new tax on tires; cuts to municipal aid, rejecting the new Education Cost Sharing formula that provides aid to schools based on need, population, poverty and other factors; and eliminating ECS funding for 33 towns, including Ridgefield.

“Both the budget proposal and address are tone deaf to the political and economic realities of Hartford right now – it was clear Governor Malloy is pretending last year’s long budget impasse that resulted in a bipartisan compromise budget did not happen,” said Rep. Frey.  “The compromise budget was novel in that it restored funding for core government services and local education by achieving savings with structural changes to state government.  The governor’s proposal wants to take us back to the days when the only solution to budget deficits was to find new ways to tax people while cutting funding for government services people rely on.”

Rep. Frey emphasized the affect the governor’s proposals would have on seniors, noting, “Seniors, in particular, are a target, because they would be forced to pay more in taxes on Social Security, lose several deductions, and still lose access to services like the Medicare Savings Program. The governor wants you to pay more for less.”

Referring to the 2017 session when Governor Malloy’s most controversial proposals – like shifting the cost of teacher pensions onto municipalities – were rejected by the legislature, Rep. Frey expressed his hope that legislators would work together to produce bipartisan alternatives to the governor’s proposal that do not rely on tax and fee increases and that protect local education funding over the course of this year’s “short session”, which ends on May 9.

“Last year, most of the legislature was adamant in its opposition to many of the governor’s proposals – like shifting teacher pension costs onto municipalities.  I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on a bipartisan solution again this year.  We need to make Connecticut more affordable to live in,” said Rep. Frey.

Rep. Frey Applauds General Assembly’s Overriding Governor’s Veto of Plan to Restore Funding to Medicare Savings Program


HARTFORD – State Representative John Frey (R-111) on Wednesday voted along with an overwhelming majority of the legislature to override the governor’s veto a bipartisan plan that would provide funding for the Medicare Savings Program (MSP) through the end of the fiscal year. The plan, co-sponsored by Rep. Frey, passed both the House and Senate on January 8th, but was vetoed by the governor shortly after its passage, who cited the budget deficits it could cause.

MSP is a Medicaid program that helps seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare co-insurance, deductibles and premiums. Connecticut was one of five states whose income eligibly limits exceeded the federal minimum level. In adopting the bipartisan budget in October, legislators reduced the eligibility to the federal minimum, consequently reducing or eliminating coverage for many of the program’s thousands of participants. The state’s Department of Social Services in December announced it would delay implementation of the eligibility reduction by two months, giving concerned program participants a reprieve from an unexpected jump in their healthcare costs as lawmakers worked to find $53 million to fund the program through June.

In December, Rep. Frey said the legislature had a “moral obligation” to reconvene and restore funding for this program in order to stop the harm that this provision of the budget would have on seniors and disabled populations.

“As a fiscal conservative, resolving Connecticut’s budget deficit is chief among my priorities as a legislator, but suddenly eliminating the funding for these people’s healthcare was unacceptable” said Rep. Frey.  “The governor’s sudden interest in the budget deficit rings hollow today, only a few months after locking in the catastrophic SEBAC union contract for another ten years and committing to no layoffs for state employees until 2020.  Cutting the MSP program hurts so many of our most vulnerable citizens, so I am glad the legislature agreed that this is not the area to make budget cuts.”

The 2018 legislative session—a so-called short session—starts Feb. 7 and will see lawmakers focus primarily on issues tied to the state budget.