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Hartford Current: Opinion from Rep. Terrie Wood

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February 8, 2018

As I lingered over the Wall Street Journal this past Saturday (1.27.18), an editorial entitled Connecticut S.O.S. caught my eye.  This piece called to task Governor Malloy and the legislative Democrats for their mishandling of our state budget and their “eyes-closed” allegiance to state union bosses.  The last line reads, ‘Connecticut voters are just beginning to understand the damage done by two terms of Gov. Malloy’.  I thought to myself, “Connecticut…We’re better than this!”

While daunting, I believe we can return our state to the fiscal prosperity of past years. According to our Dept of Labor, we’ve recovered only seventy-six percent of jobs lost in the 2008 recession…the only state to not fully regain jobs lost.  In fact, our state ranks last or near the bottom on economic health indicators in nearly every study.

Our projected budget deficit ($244M) is an ongoing challenge with revenues continuing to spiral down and expenses on the rise. Per WSJ, ‘state lawmakers have little flexibility to cut spending since Mr. Malloy extended collective bargaining agreements through 2027 despite receiving few concessions from the government unions.  As such, we must seek more balance with our state employee unions by establishing benefits that more closely align with the private sector and other states.

Last year’s legislative session went months past the June 7th end date…stretching to October 26th before a veto-proof budget was signed into law.  While not perfect, this budget does have reforms and long-sought-after initiatives that offer some reason for optimism.

  1. Spending and Bonding Caps. The spending cap was overwhelmingly first approved by voters in 1992, but was never formally implemented until this year.
  2. Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth. Fourteen experienced business leaders will make recommendations to the legislature by March 1st.
  3. Connecticut Estate Tax Exemption. The current $2M exemption will increase to the federal level over three years. Data proves that we have a net out-migration of folks and small businesses leaving because of our burdensome taxation policies. This reality has a very real impact on net revenue. We simply must remain competitive with other states.

In this past session, I personally introduced a number of bills that are now law, including the estate tax legislation outlined above and these below.

  1. Dyslexia Legislation. We now require additional training/experience for special education teachers to assist the approximately twenty percent of students that have dyslexia/language related learning disabilities.  As our school districts still struggle with early identification and also proper remediation, this is absolutely the right thing to do.
  2. Opioid Crisis Legislation. The bill this year includes a provision requiring a prescribing practitioner to discuss with minors and adults the risks associated with opioid drug use. Seventy-five percent of those who become addicted to opioids or heroin start with a doctor’s prescription.

Next session, we must keep our focus on addressing the truths in the WSJ editorial and re-build Connecticut’s economy.  As we head into the legislative short session (Feb 7 to May 9), Gov. Malloy has proposed a number of tax increases, increasing the gas tax and highway tolls. In the current toll proposal, there would be 12 locations with electronic tolling from Greenwich to West Haven alone. We hear that shifting costs to municipalities for education, affordable housing and other expenses will be proposed again. Instead, I believe our way out of this constant fiscal instability is to look at how we grow our economy by creating a state where job creators want to come and stay.  More taxation for one of the highest tax states already will surely complicate our road to recovery.

Finally, we compete with forty-nine other states in our union. I take great pride in Connecticut, and know you do, as well.  I know we are far better than our current fiscal situation.  It’s critical that I hear from you how proposed legislation may affect you. I’d like to thank the many people that have reached out to me regarding their key issues this last session.  A special thank you to Jayme Stevenson, Joe Pankowski, Taylor Carter, Pat Rogers, Spike Reed, Bert von Stuelpnagel and Bruce McGuire who took time to come to Hartford to testify on legislation.

I’ve posted an online survey (www.repterriewood.com) for your thoughts on these and other issues. To stay up to date on pending legislation, please sign up for my email blast (online,  860.240.8737 or terrie.wood@cga.ct.gov) and follow me on FB.  The Connecticut Mirror is another well-regarded source for news in our state Capitol, published daily at www.ctmirror.org. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Rep. Wood Holding Office Hours in Darien with First Selectman Stevenson on January 31st

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DARIEN State Rep. Terrie Wood (R-141) invites her constituents to attend office hours with her on the morning of Wednesday, January 31st at the Sugar Bowl Luncheonette in Darien. She will meet with any interested constituent for coffee and conversation on from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 a.m.

Rep. Wood will be joined by Darien’s First Selectman Jayme Stevenson (R-Darien) for a conversation about the state issues and how they affect Darien, the upcoming legislative session, the recently-adopted state budget, pending legislation, and other issues attendees would like to hear addressed by their state representative and town leadership.

 

Anyone who is unable to attend but would still like to speak to Rep. Wood may contact her at Terrie.Wood@cga.ct.gov .

Reps. Wood, Lavielle & Wilms Volunteer to Raise Money for the Salvation Army in Norwalk

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NORWALK State Representatives Gail Lavielle (R-143), Fred Wilms (R-142), and Terrie Wood (R-141 teamed up with the Salvation Army on Tuesday to ring the bell outside Stop & Shop on Main Ave. in Norwalk and raise money for local residents in need this holiday season as a part of their Red Kettle Campaign. They stood outside the store and asked shoppers to contribute money to the kettle. All proceeds went to the Salvation Army.

“Every little bit really does help, and this campaign really shows how your donations impact the lives of people who may be struggling during this time of year,” said Rep. Wood. “I was proud to be a part of this holiday tradition in volunteering for the Salvation Army. I encourage all of my constituents to do what they can to look out for others in their community as well.”

“I’m grateful that the money we collected will go directly towards helping struggling families have a happy holiday season,” said Rep. Lavielle. “We would all like to thank the Salvation Army for the work they do on behalf of local residents by helping with heating costs, putting food on the table, and providing winter clothing. I’m happy we could help with those important efforts.”

“During this time of year it is important to remember those less fortunate, and to extend help to our neighbors in need,” said Rep. Wilms. “Participating in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign has been humbling. As the holidays approach, I can’t think of a better way to give back to the community than by volunteering my time for this great cause. I encourage my constituents to reach out to those less fortunate during this season of giving, if possible, and thank those who have already donated. I am proud to represent a district that displays so much generosity not only during the holidays, but year round.”The legislators wanted to note that anyone unable to make it to Stop & Shop on Tuesday could still help them raise money for the Salvation Army by texting “CTREP” to 71777 and donating directly to the House and Senate Republicans’ Red Kettle. Donors may also visit the Salvation Army’s website at www.salvationarmyusa.org to learn of other ways to do good this holiday season; for example, by donating cars, clothing, household goods, airline miles, bonds and stocks, or volunteering for the community.

The Salvation Army responds to natural disasters such as wildfires and tornadoes, provides meals and toys to families in need, and conducts research and analyses regarding human needs around the country. They also provide adult rehabilitation, veteran services, elderly services, missing person searches, housing assistance, youth recreation, sponsorship, and support in the fight to end human trafficking.

You can help stop Governor Malloy from vetoing this budget

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The early hours of Saturday morning brought historical bipartisan action on a state budget.

After the Democratic leadership failed to get enough support to pass their budget which included a $1.5 billion tax increase on state residents, three Democratic Senators and five Democratic Representatives joined with Republicans to pass the GOP no-tax-increase budget in both chambers.

Apart from imposing no new taxes on state residents, this budget eliminates the $3.5 billion budget deficit while restoring the education funding to cities and towns that Governor Malloy has threatened to eliminate by executive order effective October 1st.  It also preserves essential services to our most vulnerable citizens.

Most importantly, this budget makes important structural changes to our way of budgeting, putting our state on a more stable economic footing – something essential to retaining employers and promoting economic expansion.

Governor Malloy has threatened to veto this budget bill, which would put us right back where we were before.

Please learn more about this budget by clicking here: BUDGET INFORMATION.

If you agree that this budget is an effective way to address our state 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.

Best regards,

Terrie Wood

State Representative – 141st District

Wood Joins AARP in Hosting Anti-Fraud Forum

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Join State Representative Terrie Wood and invited guests from AARP’s Fraud Watch Network for an informative presentation on the “Con Artists’ Playbook.” Rep. Wood will also explain major acts affecting seniors that passed during the 2017 Legislative Session. For more information, call 860-240-8700 or email Terrie.Wood@housegop.ct.gov.