Rep. Camillo on Tolls – Opinion

Posted on January 30, 2019 by admin


Connecticut has a proud history. Home to transformative inventions, world changing manufacturing, and national leaders, good old Connecticut Yankee ingenuity cemented our place in a young, growing nation. That legacy has recently been diminished, but for many, regaining our standing as a producer and economic leader is priority number one. That endeavor should not involve more taxes, including tolls, to get there.  Such thinking and action has already failed miserably.

Unfortunately, the first Democratic toll proposal has been filed. While not surprising, since many Democratic candidates pledged support for tolls during the recent campaign, it still concerns thousands of Connecticut residents who are looking at yet another hit to their wallets.

Some estimates have teachers commuting from Trumbull to Greenwich paying approximately $1620 per year. How is that helpful to those teachers and their families?

Riverbank Farms, which comes from Roxbury to Greenwich twice a week for 6 months to deliver to farmer’s markets, would pay an additional $372 per year just for their Greenwich trips. How does that benefit that company or the consumers in Greenwich that will be looking at higher prices due to the tolls?

A local Greenwich trucking business estimates its yearly toll costs will exceed $ 72,000! That extra cost will surely be passed on to consumers who will already be paying their own toll costs.

Tolls disappeared from our roads in the late 80s and at that time, there were only 14 toll plazas. This new proposal would call for a per mile rate comparable to neighboring state. Proponents argue these are different from the old ones, and they are correct. The new gantries provide for a free flow of traffic, so the safety issues are reduced. However, that is and has never been the point of contention. The issue is purely economical. Let’s examine the arguments, both pro and con.

Proponents correctly point out that our neighboring states have them. They also cite that at least 30% of the revenue would come from out of state residents. Why not have someone other than Connecticut residents foot some of the bill? Okay, that is a fair point. On the flip side, which they don’t say, is that 70% would come from Connecticut pockets.

Regarding the former, the fact that states on our borders have tolls doesn’t prove their presence equates to well-maintained roads and good economic fortunes. On a recent drive to South Carolina and Florida, I drove through several states that did not have tolls, yet had well maintained roads and are doing quite well economically. So, when we look at the northeast states that do toll, many seem to not be the equal of their southern counterparts. That is certainly not the reason for the disparity in economic fortunes, but it most certainly hasn’t helped those of us in the northeast.

Pro-toll legislators point to a study that suggests $1 billion in revenue will come to our small state from toll revenue. That does not take into account the high cost to operate AND collect these toll charges.  It is also hard to imagine when our bigger neighbor, Massachusetts,  brings in only $400 million, and can’t even collect on all of that as evidenced by the trouble they have collecting money from out of state drivers who pass through the state without an EZ Pass.

Moreover, these fees/taxes will most likely increase each year. In other states with tolls, amounts charged have gone up annually, 3.2% per vehicle and 3.6% per commercial vehicle. This fact must be considered, too.

What are the options? In addition to all important better fiscal management and restraint, let’s start with keeping the weigh stations open longer and more consistently, which will bring in much needed revenue stemming from truck violations. When the weigh stations were operated by the state troopers, they were open more, brought in more revenue, and got unsafe trucks off the road, especially at the borders.

Secondly, with a Special Transportation Fund (STF) lock box having been passed via referendum in November, we should see money intended for transportation-related uses finally being used for such purposes. The yearly raids on the STF have been costly and made worse by highly questionable spending. For example, Connecticut spends over $100,000 per mile on administrative costs, compared with a state national average of $9,600, over tentimes that national average! That should be considered before mandating our taxpayers pay one dime on tolls.

Another example of exorbitant spending is the New Britain Busway, a project that cost taxpayers almost three quarters of a billion dollars for just 9.1 miles of road, tearing up light railway in the process. So, let’s give a protected STF a chance to do what it was created for.

Ultimately, the evidence shows that state residents have and are still paying enough to address transportation infrastructure. The knee jerk reaction that is this toll proposal will only exacerbate the exodus from our beautiful state. We need real, concrete, and time tested solutions, which are staring us in the face, not more revenue grabs.

Let’s all work together to stop ideas and legislation that are punitive and a continuation of decades of failure, and instead return to what made Connecticut an economic leader, a destination, and a place we are proud to call home.

United Way – Updated Shelter/Warming Center Listings

Posted on January 18, 2019 by admin


Update Shelter/Warming Center Listings 

Connecticut’s cold weather emergency protocol will be activated from noon on Sunday, January 20 through noon on Wednesday, January 23. 

We are writing to remind you that United Way of Connecticut 2-1-1 can help those in need access cold weather resources. If you receive a call from someone looking for shelter and you are not aware of any shelter space, please direct the person to call 2-1-1. 

Click HERE to access our current list of cold weather resources.

Help Keep Us Up to Date!

During this cold weather emergency (and in future cold weather/winter weather events), when your municipality opens an emergency shelter or warming center, please email the following information to info@ctunitedway.org for inclusion in our emergency resource listing:

1. Location of the shelter or warming center 

2. Dates/Times of operation  

3. Who is eligible to visit center? Residents only?

4. Is the site handicapped accessible? 

5. Are pets welcome? 

6. What should individuals bring with them?

7. Contact name and phone number 

Contact the United Way at info@ctunitedway.org or (860) 571-6059 with any questions.

 

A Message from Eversource Regarding the Incoming Snow Storm

Posted on January 18, 2019 by admin


Dear friends,

Please see the message below from Eversource regarding the snow storm expected to impact our area this weekend.

As always, you may contact my office with questions. Please be safe!

Fred

Eversource is Ready for the First Snowstorm of the Year

Company encourages customers to prepare 

BERLIN, Conn. (January 18, 2019) – With a powerful storm making its way across the country that is expected to bring snow, ice, sleet and freezing rain to Connecticut this weekend followed by frigid temperatures, Eversource is ready to address any storm-related power outages or damage to the electric system. The energy company has line workers, tree crews and support staff ready to respond and is encouraging customers to also prepare for the possibility of outages.

“We are closely monitoring weather conditions and planning accordingly so we have crews in position to respond and be there for our customers when they need us,” said Eversource Vice President of Electric System Operations Mike Hayhurst.  “Given the extremely cold temperatures we’re expecting following the storm, it’s crucial for customers to take precautions and prepare in the event of power outages.”

Eversource recommends customers assemble or restock a storm kit with essential items, including pet food and medications, before a storm strikes. The energy company also offers the following tips on its website to help customers prepare for emergencies:

Eversource reminds customers to always stay clear of downed wires and to report them immediately to 9-1-1. Be sure to report any outage online at www.eversource.com, or by calling 800-286-2000. Customers who signed up for the company’s two-way texting feature can send a text to report an outage and receive outage updates as they happen.

Additional preparedness tips can be found at the Storm Preparedness section at Eversource.com.

Winter Season Fire Safety Tips from the Greenwich Fire Department

Posted on January 16, 2019 by admin


As we go through the winter / holiday season we would like to remind everyone to please practice these fire safety tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter:

* Remove and dispose of old Christmas trees, wreaths, roping. They burn fiercely as they may have been cut in early Fall.

* Be extremely careful with candles and other open flames.

* Put fireplace ashes in a metal ash can and keep can outside, away from house. Embers stay hot for days. Plastic, paper or cardboard must not be used to remove or store ash.

* Keep space heaters at least 3’ away from combustibles.

* Don’t leave pots on the stove unattended.

* Do not run your generator in your garage, run outdoors in a wide open area. Note the wind direction and where exhaust is going.

* Make sure your home has WORKING smoke alarms and Carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your house.

* Be careful when warming your vehicle. Be diligent if your vehicle operates by a fob or push button ignition. Always make sure your vehicle is off when in the garage.

If you have any questions or concerns feel free to contact our Fire Marshals Division at Firemarshals@greenwichct.org

Important 2019 Tax Information for Seniors

Posted on January 11, 2019 by admin


Dear friends and neighbors,

With tax season quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure you were aware of some pertinent tax relief benefits available to Connecticut seniors.

Last session, I joined my colleagues in the legislature in passing a budget that provided tax relief for seniors. Namely, we passed two provisions, one of which eliminated the income tax on Social Security and the other phases out the income tax on pensions.

Social Security Income Tax Deduction

Effective for tax years beginning after 2019, individual taxpayers may deduct 100 percent of Social Security income, if federal adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than:

  • $75,000 for single filers and married taxpayers filing separately; or
  • $100,000 joint filers and heads of household

Furthermore, taxpayers with incomes equal to or greater than the thresholds qualify for a 75 percent deduction. The income thresholds are increased from $50,000 and $60,000, respectively.

Retirement Income Tax Deductions

Effective beginning with the 2019 tax year, individual taxpayers may deduct a portion of retirement income that is included in federal gross income, if federal AGI is below:

  • $75,000 for single filers, married taxpayers filing separately, and heads of households; or
  • $100,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly

The deduction is equal to:

  • 14% of pension or annuity income for the 2019 taxable year
  • 28% of that income for the 2020 taxable year
  • 42% of that income for the 2021 taxable year
  • 56% of that income for the 2022 taxable year
  • 70% of that income for the 2023 taxable year
  • 84% of that income for the 2024 taxable year
  • 100% of that income for the 2025 taxable year

Under current law, military and railroad retirement that is included in federal gross income is fully deductible.

As always, please contact me with questions at (800) 842-1423 or Fred.Camillo@housegop.ct.gov.

Regards,

Fred

New Laws Effective January 1, 2019

Posted on January 11, 2019 by admin


Dear Friends and Neighbors,

New legislation effective dates are typically January 1st, July 1st, and October 1st throughout the calendar year. Now that 2018 has come to an end, a number of new laws took effect on January 1, 2019.

These new laws may have an impact on you, your business, or our community. I have highlighted some noteworthy new laws below, which I supported, and encourage you to take a look at the full list.

Please pass this information along to those who may benefit from knowing what to expect in the New Year in the State of Connecticut.

As always, please contact me directly with any questions regarding these laws at (800) 842-1423 or Fred.Camillo@housegop.ct.gov.

Regards,

Fred

AN ACT CONCERNING DUAL ARRESTS AND THE TRAINING REQUIRED OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL WITH RESPECT TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

PA 18-5 reduces the number of dual arrests that occur in domestic violence cases and enhance domestic violence training offered to state and local law enforcement agencies. For a summary, click here.

AN ACT CONCERNING MAMMOGRAMS, BREAST ULTRASOUNDS AND MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING OF BREASTS

PA 18-159 redefines mammogram, and eliminates co-payments and deductibles for certain breast ultrasounds. For a summary, click here.

AN ACT AUTHORIZING PREGNANCY AS A QUALIFYING EVENT FOR SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS FOR CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS

PA 18-43 permits certain pregnant individuals to enroll in a health insurance policy or plan not later than thirty days after the individual’s pregnancy has been certified by a licensed health care provider. For a full summary, click here.

AN ACT MANDATING INSURANCE COVERAGE OF ESSENTIAL HEALTH BENEFITS AND EXPANDING MANDATED HEALTH BENEFITS FOR WOMEN, CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

PA 18-10 requires certain health insurance plans to cover ten essential health benefits including maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency, laboratory and ambulatory services, rehabilitation, mental health services, pediatrics, and much more. For a full summary, click here.

AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY

PA 18-8 prohibits employers from asking a job candidate about his or her wage and salary history. This legislation aims to eliminate pay discrimination based on gender. For a full summary, click here.

Tree Removal on Route 15 Northbound and Southbound in Greenwich

Posted on January 11, 2019 by admin


Dear friends and neighbors,

Please check out the message below from the CT DOT regarding a construction project in our community that may impact your travels this weekend.

Tree Removal on Route 15 Northbound and Southbound in Greenwich


The Connecticut Department of Transportation is announcing that a tree removal operation will be performed on Route 15 northbound and southbound in Greenwich, beginning Saturday, January 12, 2019.

The work consists of cutting dead trees, high-limbing and clearing sightlines to signs. The work is scheduled to occur on Saturday, January 12, 2019, and Sunday, January 13, 2019.

Motorists can expect lane closures on Route 15 northbound and southbound in Greenwich between Exit 27 (Route 120A) and Exit 29 (Old Mill Road #1).  A moveable sign pattern will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zone. The work will occur from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Motorists should be aware that modifications or extensions to this schedule may become necessary due to weather delays or other unforeseen conditions.  Motorists are advised to maintain a safe speed when driving in this vicinity.

 

Greenwich Delegation Presents Town of Greenwich with $17M Check from State for New Leb Construction Costs

Posted on January 8, 2019 by admin


On Tuesday, January 8, Rep. Camillo joined the Greenwich Delegation in presenting a check for $17,469,365 from the State of Connecticut to the Town of Greenwich reimbursing the town for New Lebanon School construction costs to date. Thus far, the town has received $15, 738,167 from the state with an additional 11% (or $1,731,198) approved pending final accounting.

The total budget for this project is $37,309,058 and the town is receiving approximately 64% reimbursement (or approximately $24,000,000). If the project is completed under budget then the reimbursement will be less. If the entire budget is spent, the delegation hopes to secure an additional $6,500,000 of which they expect to receive $5,785,000 and $715,000 in retainage.

The school is scheduled to open in February barring any unforeseen delays.

Rep. Camillo to Hold Office Hour on January 17 at Cos Cob Library

Posted on January 7, 2019 by admin


Rep. Fred Camillo will be holding an office hour at the Cos Cob Library on Thursday, January 17 at 6:30 p.m. The new session begins Wednesday, January 9, and concludes June 5 at midnight.

This event is an opportunity for constituents to meet with Rep. Camillo and discuss the issues important to them.

Office Hour – Cos Cob Library

5 Sinawoy Road, Cos Cob, CT 06807

Thursday, January 17, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

If you are unable to attend, but would still like to speak with Rep. Camillo, he can be reached at(800) 842-1423 or at fred.camillo@housegop.ct.gov.

State Rep. Camillo Receives 2019-2020 Committee Assignments

Posted on December 21, 2018 by admin


HARTFORD – On Tuesday, State Representative Fred Camillo (R-Greenwich) received his committee assignments for the 2019-2020 term.

Rep. Camillo will stay on Commerce and Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committees and will be joining the Public Safety & Security and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. He will also resume his role as an Assistant Republican Leader.

“Having been involved with a lot of public safety legislation during my time at the Capitol, I am grateful to Rep. Klarides for appointing me to be on this committee,” said Rep. Camillo. “I am also honored to be sitting on the Veterans Committee this session. Having worked on behalf of veteran causes in the past, I hope to continue to be a strong voice in support of the men and women who served us in the military. Lastly, I am happy to be returning to the Commerce Committee – one of the most productive groups in the legislature. I am always inspired and energized by the truly bipartisan approach we take to each bill we consider, and hope we can make an even greater effort next year to encourage new employers to invest in our state.”

The General Assembly will convene in early January for a five-month session ending at midnight on June 5th, 2019. In odd-numbered years, legislators vote on a biennial state budget, which they must pass before they adjourn.