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Rep. Pam Staneski Reminds Residents about ‘Rx Take Back Day’

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On Saturday, October 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Milford and Orange Police Departments and the Drug Enforcement Administration will give the public its opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Bring your pills for disposal to the Milford Senior Center, 9 Jepson Drive in Milford and CVS on 279 Boston Post Road in Orange.

Medications must be in original containers, with names crossed out. Expired or unwanted prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and vitamins/nutritional supplements will also be accepted.

Help prevent over-the-counter (cough medicine, pain relievers, etc.) and prescription drug abuse by dropping off any unwanted, expired, or unused medicines, vitamins, or nutritional supplements. All medications must be in original containers, with all names crossed out.

**The service is free and anonymous, no questions will be asked**

No needles or sharps will be accepted.

Examples of sharps include:

  • Needles – hollow needles used to inject drugs (medication) under the skin
  • Syringes – devices used to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body
  • Lancets, also called “fingerstick” devices – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.
  • Auto Injectors, including epinephrine and insulin pens – syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body
  • Infusion sets – tubing systems with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.
  • Connection needles/sets – needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website or call the Milford PD at (203) 783-3200 or Orange Police Departments at (203) 891-2130.

State Rep. Pam Staneski Celebrates Manufacturing

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“Connecticut. Dream It. Do It. Manufacturing Month” is celebrated during the month of October.

Now in its fifth year, Manufacturing Month is a statewide initiative to promote manufacturing, educate Connecticut residents about the pathways to a rewarding career in manufacturing, and highlight the need for a talented and skilled workforce to help our manufacturers succeed in a global market.

As part of understanding how manufacturing has evolved, I spent some time at Platt Technical High School, the Housatonic Advanced Manufacturing Center, and one of our local manufacturing companies in Milford/Orange, Bead Industries. I am excited to have had the opportunity to be part of the celebration of those who choose to work in manufacturing.

Understanding the industry is important to setting policies and passing legislation.  We want manufacturing to thrive—it provides stable, highly skilled, and high-paying jobs. The demand for qualified instructors at our Technical High Schools is high, and this year legislation was passed that would help recruit qualified instructors who have occupational expertise. We are also rolling the Technical High School System out from under the State Department of Education so that it can respond more quickly to industry changes.

Connecticut is home to seven Advanced Manufacturing Centers housed within our Community College system.  These are 10-month programs that graduate approximately 500 students a year, with a 98 percent placement in industry following graduation. According to the state Department of Labor, manufacturing in Connecticut employs about 160,000 people, and this program is a vital pipeline to these jobs.

My visit with Bead Industries was the capstone to seeing how this all fits together.  The day they hosted my visit, they also had a group of high-school students in to tour the facility.  We talked about how manufacturing has evolved and I, along with the students, were most impressed with the cutting edge use of machines, the skills of the personnel, and the commitment of the company to continue to train those who work for them. One role that they, and many other manufacturers, find hard to fill is tool-and-die making. It is not as sexy as programming a machine, but they stressed that it is vital to the operation of the company.  They are working closely with our Technical High Schools and Advanced Manufacturing Centers to make this need known, and part of the legislation that was mentioned above allows for our schools to enter into cooperative arrangements with employers to provide classes for their employees.

The intent of this new legislation is to create a more sustainable Technical High School System, which will in turn better assist small manufacturers across the state by producing a more qualified workforce. Many manufacturers support the proposal as a first step to re-energizing Connecticut’s manufacturing sector.

Let’s get this Connecticut manufacturing engine humming at warp speed.

Rep. Pam Staneski 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.

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.