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Rep. Green Votes to Restore MSP Funding

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) and her colleagues voted Monday to restore $53.9 million dollars in Medicare Savings Plan (MSP) funding that was previously removed in the bipartisan budget.

MSP is an income-based program, which provides supplemental financial assistance to more than 113,000 seniors and disabled individuals around the state to help cover items such as Medicare co-insurance, deductibles, and premiums. Connecticut was one of five states whose income eligibility limits exceeded the federal minimum level. Legislators in adopting the budget in October reduced the eligibility to the federal minimum, consequently reducing or eliminating coverage for many of the program’s thousands of participants.

In order to reach the almost $54 million dollars, lawmakers needed to readdress many agreed upon aspects of the bipartisan budget that were not enacted by Governor Malloy. Some of these savings included the consolidations of multiple human resource functions into the Department of Administration Services, reductions to managers and consultants, and eliminate the carry forward from FY18 to FY19.

“The men and women who rely on this reimbursement benefit are some of our most needy residents, so I am pleased to have joined my fellow representatives in working together to restoring this crucial funding,” Rep. Green said.

Late last year, The Department of Social Services (DSS)  announced that it would delay implementation of eligibility reductions to the state’s MSP program two months (until March 1, 2018), while it conducted a review of coverage alternatives.

Realizing almost 86,000 low-income seniors would be disqualified and another 27,000 would have their coverage reduced, members from both the House and Senate of the Connecticut General Assembly petitioned the Secretary of the State to call them back into special session in order to restore the previous cut.

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Rep. Green represents the 55th District covering the towns of Andover, Bolton, Hebron, and Marlborough

Rep. Green Rings Bell to Raise Money for Salvation Army

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State Representative Robin Green stands alongside Santa and Mrs. Claus during the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign. The event helps to raise funds in order provide holiday dinners, clothing and toys for families in need.

“Volunteering for charitable events like this is extremely gratifying. This time of the year when many families are struggling financially, the generosity people throughout our community have shown through their donations to help them is truly amazing,” Rep. Green said. “I am honored to have been a part of such a wonderful event and to have helped such a worthy cause.”

Rep. Green to Ring the Bell for the Salvation Army

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) will be participating in The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign by ringing bells on Monday, December 18th from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at Ted’s IGA on Main Street in Hebron.

WHEN: Monday, December 18th
TIME: 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: Ted’s IGA, 127 Main Street, Hebron
WHY: State legislators will join fellow volunteers ringing bells to raise money for the Salvation Army this holiday season.

The public is invited to support the cause and monetary donations of any size are appreciated. The Salvation Army provides food, clothing, comfort and care to local residents as well as 128 other countries around the globe.

If you are unable to stop by during the bell ringing but still wish to donate to the Salvation Army text CTREP to 71777 and donate directly to the House and Senate Republicans’ Red Kettle.

All proceeds will be donated directly to The Salvation Army.

Green Achieves 100% Voting Record

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State Legislator Makes Every Vote of the 2017 Regular Session

HARTFORD- State Representative Robin Green (R-55) has earned a one hundred percent voting record for all roll call votes taken on the floor of the House of Representatives during the 2017 Regular Session. The House Clerk’s Office released the data on members’ votes.

“Many of the issues brought up in the House universally affect all of our districts in one way or another, that’s why I think it is extremely important that I am here to represent all of the voices of the 55th District,” Rep. Green said.

A perfect attendance is a very difficult thing to achieve according to Green, who owns and manages three childcare centers full-time in and around the 55th District.

Green is serving her first term representing the towns of Bolton, Andover, Hebron and Marlborough in the General Assembly. She is a member of the legislature’s Education, Finance, Revenue & Boding, and Transportation Committees.

The next regular session of the legislature will convene in February.

Rep. Green Concludes District-Wide Coffee Hours With Budget Update

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) wrapped up district-wide Coffee Hours for the month of October, concluding a busy afternoon that saw the House approve a bipartisan budget for the 2018-2019 biennium.

The informal event provided constituents with the opportunity to not only bring ongoing budget questions straight to their representative, but also offer a venue to answer any other current legislative issues that may be affecting them and their families.

“The timing of this event worked out well because I was able to sit down with many of my constituents who have been diligently following the ongoing budget issue and finally say we’ve come to a bipartisan agreement,” Rep. Green said.

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Bipartisan Budget Agreement Reached, Bill Now Heads to The Governor

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) voted on behalf of a bipartisan budget for the state’s 2018-2019 biennium. Passage of September’s bipartisan budget helped set the stage for this agreement which will put a stop to the massive educational and municipal cuts that would have continued to take place through the governor’s executive order.

“This budget will work to provide many structural changes that have been long overdue,” Rep. Green said. “We have been lobbying for the institution of a spending and bonding cap for years and we were finally able to negotiate them into this bipartisan effort.”

The bipartisan budget which has passed both the House and Senate does not include increases to the sales or income tax, a cell phone surcharge tax, restaurant tax, taxing second homes, or shifting 1/3 of teacher’s pensions onto local municipalities, or the reintroduction of tolls.

This budget agreement has worked to avert Governor Malloy’s cuts to many critical social service programs and protects funding for Care4Kids, CT Home care for the elderly, and firefighter training schools.

Moving forward, state employee union contracts will now require votes by the House and Senate before any contract can become law.

“While this process has taken longer than we had expected, I want to commend the leadership on both sides for tirelessly working together to bring forth a budget that helps to begin moving Connecticut forward,” Rep. Green said.

The budget passed 126-23 and will now move onto the governor’s desk for his signature.

Rep. Green to Host District-Wide Coffee Hours

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) will be hosting district-wide coffee hours this month where residents will have an opportunity to discuss the current budget situation and any other legislative matters affecting the district.

WHEN and WHERE:  

October 16th from 8 -9 a.m. – Something Simple Cafe, Hebron, 

October 19th from 8 -9 a.m. – Marlborough Country Bakery, Marlborough

October 24th from 9-10 a.m. – Bolton Town Hall, Bolton

October 26th from 6-7 p.m. – Andover Public Library, Andover

This event is free of charge and open to the public. If you have any questions, or are unable to attend but would still like to connect with Rep. Green please contact her office at 800-842-1423 or Robin.Green@housegop.ct.gov.

Rep. Green Hosts District-Wide Meetings for Seniors

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HARTFORD – State Representative Robin Green (R-55) spent the month of September visiting senior centers throughout the district to allow residents the opportunity to discuss the current budget situation, ask questions about current legislation, and voice any of their concerns.

“As a representative of the 55th district it is extremely important to me that everyone within the communities I serve have a chance to meet with me face-to-face and hear what is happening in Hartford,” Rep. Robin Green said. “I wanted to make sure that our seniors feel as though their voices are being heard and have an equal opportunity to express their feelings and beliefs with their state representative directly.”

During the discussions, residents expressed an overwhelming concern over Connecticut’s declining economy citing the recent influx of businesses and employment opportunities that have packed up and left the state in recent months.

Rep. Green answered questions on the bipartisan budget recently passed in both the House and Senate, legalizing recreational marijuana, and concerns over funding for people with disabilities. The vast majority of seniors were opposed to Connecticut adding tolls for fear over the impact on local traffic and if the money brought in would actually be used for our roads and highways.

Rep. Green said, “It is my hope that anyone who attended these forums came away with answers and information that will be helpful to them.”

Myth vs. Facts on 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.

Click here to see the Teacher’s Retirement Systems latest evaluation.

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.

We’ve Been Down This Road Before

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Op-Ed
By Robin Green

If the residents of Connecticut aren’t worried about the financial direction the current majority leadership is taking them, well then they should be.

By not voting on a budget before the close of regular session, the majority party has willingly handed over the state’s fiscal responsibilities to the governor per his executive order.

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