Forced Regionalization: Our Students Deserve Better

Posted on February 8, 2019 by admin


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This week the Education Committee raised two bills proposing to force towns to regionalize their school districts.  While encouraging towns to share services is a laudable goal, these bills start the discussion in the wrong place.  Forcing towns to regionalize their school districts based upon town, not student, population without considering a community’s unique needs, creates a whole host of potential problems.  One of these bills would even force consolidations based upon probate districts as a default.  I struggle to see the correlation.

Consolidations based upon population makes no sense because there is no correlation between the size of a town and student population.  Take our surrounding towns.  In 2016-17, Branford with a population of 28,000 had 2964 students (11%); Guilford with a population of 22,000 had 3387 students (15%); and North Branford with a population of 14,000 had 1831 students (13%).  Demographics, not population, play a large factor in regionalizing a school district.  North Branford for instance has a major transportation barrier with Lake Gaillard, which is probably, in part, why the north side of town went to North Haven and the southern half of town went to East Haven and Branford prior to the construction of our high school.  For more rural communities, bus routes could easily exceed an hour just to reach some arbitrary threshold number forcing consolidation.

The bills make a fatal mistake of assuming that regionalization will provide money savings.

Current state laws, however, don’t necessarily foster efficiency when towns regionalize, and at times regionalized districts are at a disadvantage.  Larger towns can control spending at the expense of the smaller regionalized towns, or proportionately, one town may bear a greater cost than its grand list could otherwise handle, thus resulting in tax increases for the weaker community.  When Governor Malloy proposed midyear cuts to education, towns like North Branford had the ability to work with their board of educations to find savings and reduce the budget if needed.  In a regional district, like District 13, Durham had no legal ability to work with their board to find savings.  Rather, a midyear cut, would require a tax increase.  Furthermore, in some districts which only have regionalized high schools, the districts are required to have separate boards of educations so multiple governing bodies oversee various levels of education, thus adding to the cost.

The state needs to put a greater effort into modernizing our current state laws for regionalization before attempting to force towns to swallow this massive pill.  I believe these proposals are a reckless attempt to take more money away from our towns for state consumption.  It should not be lost on anyone that the cities represented by the introducer of the bill are not impacted by the proposal.  If we genuinely want to improve educational opportunities for students, we should start the conversation on shared classroom experiences and demographic studies on where these pairing might be successful, rather than taking a wrecking ball to our well-established educational districts.  Our students deserve better.

What New Regionalized School Districts Could Look Like

Posted on February 6, 2019 by admin


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Connecticut Democrats have proposed multiple bills to force towns to regionalize school districts.

One bill would force any school district with less than 2,000 students to regionalize (impacting an estimated 84 towns). Another bill would force any town with a population of less than 40,000 to consolidate with other towns to form new school districts matching the state probate court districts shown below (impacting an estimated 144 towns). 

While encouraging towns to share services is a laudable goal, these bills start the discussion wrong.  Forcing towns and cities to regionalize their school districts based upon town, not student or population, and without considering their unique needs creates a whole host of potential problems:
Less time in the classroom and more time on the bus, especially in rural areas where proposed districts would be very large geographically.

Wasted taxpayer investments in new and newly renovated schools. If your town just invested in a new school renovation, it may now be all for nothing if the school no longer fits the needs of a regional school district.

Potential new costs to build new schools to meet regional needs.

Dramatic increases in busing expenses for towns and cities. While the state used to pay for busing costs, towns and cities are now solely responsible for those costs.

Raises concerns about how to preserve quality of education.

Loss of teaching positions. If towns are forced to consolidate, this could impact number of teachers and classrooms sizes.

Loss of local control over school decision making. Forcing regionalization leaves little room for towns, cities and local residents to have a say in what happens.

Any bill that the legislature considers, must recognize all of these important factors that impact the quality of education for our students.  Sadly, neither of these bills provide that opportunity.

Want to speak out about this proposal? I will let you know once a public hearing is scheduled so you can submit testimony or testify in person at the State Capitol.

To talk to the lawmakers who proposed these bills, contact Senate Democrats at 800-842-1420 and House Democrats at 800- 842-8267.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-842-1423 or Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov if you have any questions relating to state government.

Sincerely,

Follow my legislative activity and sign up to receive my newsletter at: www.RepCandelora.com

Candelora Hosts Boy Scouts Day at the Capitol in Hartford

Posted on February 4, 2019 by admin


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On Friday, February 1, Deputy Republican Leader Vincent Candelora (R-86) Hosted Boy Scouts Day at the Capitol in Hartford with State Representative Pat Boyd (D-50).

Deputy Republican Leader Vincent Candelora welcomes members of Troop 633 to the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on February 1 for a tour and inaugural ceremony to recognize girls being accepted into the Boys Scouts program in Connecticut.

Scouts from all five of the Boy Scout councils visited the Capitol for a tour at 1 p.m. followed by an inaugural ceremony at 3:15 p.m. followed by a 2019 Report to the State and Meet and Greet.

Nearly 150 Scouts, their leaders, parents, along with state and local officials from all over Connecticut were in attendance to celebrate girls becoming members of the new Boy Scouts program.

Boy Scout Day at the Capitol celebrated the new Co-Educational Scouting program in Connecticut that welcomed its first girls into the Boy Scouts program. The girls at this unique Court of Honor Ceremony also received their Scout badge.

Durham Lawmakers Host ‘Let’s Taco Bout It’ Event

Posted on January 30, 2019 by admin


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The free event that took place on Wednesday, January 16 at The Whole Enchilada, located on 370 Main Street in Durham allowed individuals from Durham and the surrounding area to receive a legislative update from State Reps. Vincent Candelora (R-86) and Noreen Kokoruda (R-101).

The lawmakers were available to address local concerns from constituents, to answer questions, to discuss the 2019 legislative session as well as current happenings at the Capitol. Other topics addressed during this event included the upcoming budget, potential cuts and taxes, and constituents’ concerns about Connecticut being unaffordable to live in.

Local officials Laura Francis, Durham First Selectwoman and Chuck Stengel from the Durham Board of Finance were in attendance along with CT DDS Families First.

Tacos, snacks and beverages were supplied by Reps. Candelora and Kokoruda and also Sen. Fasano for the nearly 40 attendees ranging in age from 14-85.

Those who could not attend may contact Reps. Candelora and Kokoruda at 800-842-1423 or by email at Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov or Noreen.Kokoruda@housegop.ct.gov.

Rep. Vincent Candelora and Rep. Pat Boyd Host Boy Scouts of America at the Capitol

Posted on January 29, 2019 by admin


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Reps. Candelora (R-86) and Boyd  (D-50) invite the public to join scouts from all of the five Boy Scout Councils to receive the 2019 Report to the State from about 150 scouts, their leaders and parents from all over Connecticut on Friday, February 1 in Room 310 (Old Appropriations Room) at the State Capitol in Hartford.

This event will also serve as the inaugural occasion when the first young women in the new Co-Educational Scouting Program will receive their scout badge at a unique Court of Honor Ceremony. 

The day will begin around 1:00 p.m. with tours of the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol and conclude with a Court of Honor Ceremony and the 2019 Report To The State at 3:00 p.m. in Room 310 of the State Capitol (Old Appropriations Room).

Event Timeline

  • 1:00 pm – Gathering in the Legislative Office Building Atrium
  • 1:30 pm – Tour of the Capitol, and the Legislative Office Building
  • 3:00 pm – Gather for the Court of Honor, Room 310 of the State Capitol (Old Appropriations Room)
  • 3:15 pm – Court of Honor and 2019 Report To The State
  • 4:00 pm – Meet and greet with government officials/interviews with news outlets

Please RSVP to MaryAnn Daly in order to be added to the program MaryAnn.Daly@cga.ct.gov.

If It Looks like a Tax. . .

Posted on January 28, 2019 by admin


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This legislative session kicked off with many bill proposals as usual, but a proposal by Senator Looney has brought much public attention and concern.  He claims his proposal will restructure property taxes and bring relief to residents, but which ones?  You can bet not our district.

The bill seeks to do the following:  create a $50,000 homestead tax exemption for one- to four-family owner-occupied residences; implement a one-mill statewide tax so $1 on each $1,000 of property value will go to the state; and repeal the local property tax on vehicles and replace it with a new statewide vehicular tax of between 15 and 19 mills.   All of this new revenue generated would then go into a fund administered by the state for reimbursing towns and cities that host tax-free institutions such as colleges, state buildings and hospitals.  The money would also be used for special education and public school grants.  Finally, the bill would exempt the first $25,000 of personal property from the property tax.

The homestead exemption would reduce the first $50,000 of someone’s home from taxation, thus theoretically reducing the tax burden.  So for instance, if the town assessed your home at $200,000, only $150,000 of that assessment would be taxed.  The problem with this proposal is that if the town doesn’t receive any additional state aid, your mill rate will just go up causing you to effectively pay the same taxes anyway.  Once you add in the loss of the car tax revenue and 1 mill state tax, you’ll likely be seeing a tax increase.

By creating a statewide property and car tax and putting it into a fund for towns with hospitals and universities, this proposal will likely disproportionately benefit cities at the expense of our towns.  It also begins the frightening precedent of allowing the state to take over property taxation, which until now, has been exclusively in the hands of local authorities.  I believe this bill fails to recognize how much our town residents are struggling.

So why is this being proposed?  In our bipartisan budget, Connecticut implemented a spending cap, revenue cap and volatility cap to control bad spending habits.  Any increases in income or sales taxes will merely shift into the Rainy Day fund and cannot be spent on the budget.  This proposal is a clever way of generating more revenue for the state to spend outside of these caps.  Frankly, it’s a disturbing illustration of the legislature’s failure to control spending.

We need to bring fiscal accountability to any of our failing cities and towns before we even consider bailouts.  I still have not forgotten the $500 million blank check Connecticut handed to Hartford last year.  The state will be paying that bill for the next twenty years.  Rather than bringing more accountability and oversight to the spending habits of our large cities, these proposals just throw more wood on a raging fire.  The legislature should not be taking the easy way out because I believe it ultimately does the most harm to our residents.

Reps. Candelora, Kokoruda Co-Host “Know the Risks” Press Conference

Posted on January 23, 2019 by admin


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HARTFORD – State Representatives Vincent Candelora (R-86) and Noreen Kokoruda co-hosted a “Know the Risks” press conference along with the Connecticut Chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (CT SAM), Connecticut Association of Prevention Professionals (CAPP), students, advocates, law enforcement, health professionals, and local officials to discuss the implications and health risks associated with legalizing retail marijuana in Connecticut.

Recent findings were discussed by a number of speakers, many of whom highlighted how states that have already legalized marijuana now lead the nation in teen use. Experts from both urban and suburban areas mentioned the following points:

  • States that have legalized marijuana lead the U.S. in teen use (Source: www.samhsa.gov)
  • Kids who are dependent on marijuana are three times more likely to become addicted to heroin (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
  • Today’s marijuana is much more potent than in the past and comes in many youth-friendly forms (Source: Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
  • Neurological risks for youth and adults under age 25 (Source: World Health Organization)
  • Connecticut existing marijuana laws do not contribute to mass incarceration (Source: www.opm.gov)
  • Colorado marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 48 percent following legalization (Source: The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, p. 13)
  • When all costs are considered, there will be no revenue windfall (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Economic Trends in Tobacco, March 3, 2017)

Within the Connecticut General Assembly during the 2019 legislative session, the topic of legalizing marijuana will continue to be a divided debate with advocates on both sides.

“Countless reputable studies have concluded that marijuana is addictive and harmful, regardless of claims made by the marijuana industry trying to refute this,” said Rep. Candelora. “Simply put, legalizing marijuana is a money grab that would increase our state’s disposable income, but would do so at the expense of our children and the health of our citizens. We should never make decisions without considering the risks associated with them, and in this case the risks are grave, and must be avoided at all costs. ”

“Collecting tax revenue from legalizing retail marijuana is simply not worth the negative repercussions of doing so, many experts and researchers have verified these claims,” Rep. Kokoruda added. “This is not a decision we can make lightly, especially when states that have already legalized retail marijuana are now experiencing the blow back of this decision.”

CT SAM, an affiliate chapter to the National SAM organization, works to educate citizens on the science of marijuana and to promote health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences. CAPP is the Connecticut affiliate of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to a health-first approach to marijuana policy.

For more information visit: http://www.cappct.org/ct-sam.

Reps. Candelora and Kokoruda can be reached by phone at 800-842-1423 or by email at Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov and Noreen.Kokoruda@housegop.ct.gov.

For a link to the full press conference click here.

Rep. Candelora represents the 86th District communities of Durham, Guilford, North Branford and Wallingford.

Rep. Kokoruda represents the 101st District communities of Durham and Madison.

COST PRESENTS TOWN CRIER AWARD TO STATE REP. VINCENT CANDELORA

Posted on January 15, 2019 by admin


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The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), which represents 110 smaller communities throughout Connecticut, presented two lawmakers with Town Crier Awards at its annual meeting on January 16 at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville, Connecticut.

COST’s Town Crier Award was established to recognize and honor state lawmakers, municipal officials, and others who have distinguished themselves as outstanding advocates on issues affecting Connecticut’s small towns.

This year’s recipients are Sen. Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) who represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington; and Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) who represents Durham, Guilford, North Branford and Wallingford.

“Sen. Witkos is a tireless champion for Connecticut’s small towns,” said Leo Paul, First Selectman of Litchfield and COST’s Past President, in presenting the award.

“His leadership and advocacy on a wide range of municipal issues has been instrumental in addressing the needs of the state’s smaller communities,” Paul added. “He has been a strong advocate for providing towns with much-needed relief from unfunded state mandates and in supporting programs that are critical to our small towns, such as the Resident State Trooper program.”

“We are honored to present Rep. Candelora with COST’s Town Crier Award,” said Tom Banisch, First Selectman of the Town of Madison and COST’s Vice President.

“Rep. Candelora is very responsive to the needs of Connecticut’s small towns. He understands how changes in municipal funding, particularly midyear cuts in funding, will affect property taxpayers and the delivery of critical local services,” said Banisch. “We appreciate his longstanding commitment to fighting for Connecticut’s small towns.”

The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST) is an advocacy organization committed to giving small towns a strong voice in the legislative process.

Tax Relief for Connecticut Seniors

Posted on January 10, 2019 by admin


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With tax season quickly approaching, I wanted to make sure you were aware of some pertinent information to ensure that seniors in Connecticut receive all of the tax relief to which they are entitled.

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.

Please consider sharing this information.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me at 1-800-842-1423 or Vincent.Candelora@housegop.ct.gov if you have any questions relating to state government.

Sincerely,

Candelora, Perillo to sit on Committee to Review Contested 120th Race

Posted on January 10, 2019 by admin


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A four-person committee created Wednesday by members of the state’s House of Representatives to review the circumstances that caused 76 residents of Stratford’s 120th District to receive the wrong Election Day ballots will issue its findings by February 4th.

The race between incumbent Democrat Phil Young and Republican Jim Feehan was decided by just 13 votes, and House Republican Leader Themis Klarides explained to members of the chamber Wednesday how important the work of this bipartisan committee is ensuring Stratford voters weren’t disenfranchised.

Rep. Klarides said, “This year Rule 19 is of special importance because we have a contested election in the 120th district.  Pursuant to Rule 19 the committee on contested elections will take into consideration the contested election and report the facts of the contest along with their opinion back to the House.  I look forward this committee working to find a fair resolution to the election in the 120th that will ensure that no members of the public will be disenfranchised and denied their ability to vote for their own state representative.”

The committee includes Representatives Vincent Candelora, Jason Perillo, Mike D’Agostino and Gregg Haddad. It will hold its first meeting Friday at 3:00 p.m. in room 1B of the Legislative Office Building.

“I look forward to serving on this committee to make sure the integrity of the process occurs and voters were not disenfranchised,” said State Representative Vincent Candelora.

“We need to take this committee very seriously and work bipartisanly to find a solution,” said Rep. Perillo. “If voters were disenfranchised then a new election must occur. Every vote should count!”

Connecticut’s Supreme Court took up the issue after Feehan filed suit over the controversy. Justices said House members were responsible for handling the Stratford voting controversy, which incumbent Young—sent to Hartford in a special election last winter—has acknowledged is a problem.