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Brenda Falusi

Running for State Representative

26 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating


Age: 51

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Tolland

Current Job: Computer consultant and trainer

Previous Job: Substitute Teacher

Previous Job: Retail Manager

Education: BS Mathematics, St. Joseph College

What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
Taking appropriate precautions, based on science, to ensure the safety of our businesses and consumers. CT has proved that we can succeed when we work together.
With so much uncertainty ahead about COVID-19, how would you ensure that the people's business – both at the legislature and in all of our elections – will be conducted effectively, and with full participation, in the safest possible manner for the foreseeable future?
Again, following protocols, using technology and adapting to changes. With the expansion of the use of absentee ballots, absentee ballot drop boxes, and adapting pandemic safety protocols, we will ensure the safety of the poll workers and voters. We owe a debt of thanks to the additional tasks our Town Clerks have successfully taken on and those additional workers who have stepped forward to assist in our communities.
With higher education facing major changes because of the pandemic, what steps will you take to make sure that Connecticut’s residents have access to college and/or other job training that won’t leave them tens of thousands of dollars in debt?
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
Develop, improve, and reaffirm comprehensive plans to diversify our hiring practices, access to housing, access to education, and work with partners to ensure equity training is available in our state and municipal governments.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
Continue programs to extend eviction deadlines. Ensure access to childcare. Watch unemployment insurance claims for trends, and address as seen.
Connecticut’s revenues will sharply decline as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and, unlike Congress, Connecticut has a balanced budget requirement. What changes would you make to balance the budget? (If you want cuts, be specific what will be cut. If you want to raise taxes, be specific about which taxes.)
What should Connecticut do to re-tool our public health for COVID-19 and the possibility of future pandemics, while also addressing other chronic illnesses that put people at risk every day?
CT needs a public healthcare option. As for future pandemics, we need to demand a federal pandemic response team, with response and recovery plans in place.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
CT needs a public healthcare option. Not only will this lower costs, but will enable small businesses to compete with large corporations for hiring. Healthcare should not be a privilege.
Will you support top-down efforts to regionalize local services with an eye toward more efficiency and reducing the state's obligations regarding ECS and/or other funding for towns? How would you go about it?
I want to see the state encourage--not require--smaller towns to specialize some of their curriculum to attract students from surrounding communities to their schools. It will save the state money while making sure we maintain our reputation for excellent education in a broad area of subjects. Districts can then make their own decisions on regionalization, partnering with the neighboring areas to provide the programs that make sense for their students. I would also like to see the state take steps to reduce some burdensome mandates on municipalities with an eye for efficiency and fiscal responsibility - for example allowing towns to post public meetings and notices on-line, via-email AND in Town Offices/Libraries thus reducing the costs of posting those notices. It's time to move to a modern notification system.
Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Given the fiscal issues troubling the state, I welcome the revenue legalized recreational marijuana would bring. But before supporting a bill legalizing it, I’d need to be sure the state is able to enforce laws against driving while under the influence and is educating all of our young people on the impacts marijuana can have on developing minds.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
In Connecticut, we take care of our friends and neighbors. We need to find innovative ways to meet the needs of our communities that don’t cost the middle class a fortune. One way we can do that is to allow small businesses to join with our state employees in the purchase of health insurance. It would lower costs to the taxpayer and save small business money, allowing them to grow and provide the jobs we need to succeed together.
A recent report found 40 percent of Connecticut residents can't afford basic needs such as housing, food, health care, or child care. What would you do to improve their situation?
By supporting efforts to raise to $15 an hour the minimum wage over a period of time, and making sure all members of our community receive equal pay for equal work. This is a broad and deep conversation that includes looking at large retail companies that routinely do not pay a living wage and cause workers to have to apply for state assistance, in essence causing the state to supplement their worker's salaries.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
In the current budget climate we need to start with the low-hanging fruit, like allowing businesses to partner with state government when buying health insurance plans. Supporting partnerships between our leading industries and our Connecticut colleges, universities and job training programs to ensure skilled workers are available for shortages. And smart investments in infrastructure to ensure an attractive climate for businesses and employees to establish or grow in CT. We are already seeing this trend and we need to ensure it will continue to grow.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
“Absolutely. I’ve managed retail outlets, and many of the applications I had to toss out were from otherwise qualified candidates. I wasn’t allowed to pursue them after we saw a conviction indicated on their application. The question prevents good candidates who have paid their debt to society from being able to support their families, create their own stability, and contribute to the economy. It keeps people dependent on government instead of giving them the opportunity to provide for themselves.
Based on estimates that out-of-state drivers would contribute 30-40% of overall revenue if highway tolls are implemented in Connecticut, would you support tolls with or without offsetting cuts in the state's gas taxes?
I’m hesitant, but always willing to have the discussion so long as it’s understood that the overall impact is a reduction in overall taxes. We need everyone who uses our infrastructure to contribute to its maintenance, not just those that live and work in Connecticut.
Eversource and some out-of-state entities appear to be attempting to buy control of Connecticut's water resources, and some of our quasi-public water agencies have signed away large amounts of water to commercial interests with little regard to future water shortages. What can you do to ensure that Connecticut residents maintain control of public water supplies in perpetuity?
Public waterways and access to water supply is one of Connecticut’s great economic advantages. We need to partner with our utilities to make sure that advantage is protected by ensuring responsible use.
Much of Connecticut is economically and racially segregated because many towns lack affordable housing and local zoning regulations prohibit multi-family dwellings. How would you propose incentivizing municipalities to start allowing multi-family units and other affordable housing options?
The extra spending dollars that flow into an economy are one of the benefits of zoning regulations that promote affordable housing. They provide the incentive to develop multi-family dwellings and diverse neighborhoods that give back to local business. We need to work with partners in the community like to perfect these practices and educate our cities and towns. Until this is achieved I think programs like Open Choice are vital for creating equity and equality in education and would find ways to encourage more partnerships.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
The challenge is creating a system that addresses the needs of the entire community. We should not be reducing our support of education when our biggest employers are having trouble filling skilled labor positions. I would propose that we put ECS funding in a lockbox and prevent any further reductions in education spending.
Should the government's response to the opioid crisis be to focus on law enforcement to stop drug dealers, or improving access to treatment for addiction and reducing the overprescription of painkillers?
Education is key to further reducing the over-prescription of painkillers and making sure prescription holders understand the responsibility of storing and disposing of these medications. Doctors need to be free to practice medicine in the way they see fit, but we should be encouraging the referral of patients to pain management clinics instead of just prescribing opioids. That said, we cannot ignore the needs of those who are addicted, and society as a whole benefits if treatment is available to those who need it, regardless of race or economic status. I also support programs that will ensure our first responders and care givers have the appropriate and necessary treatments available.
In 2016 the Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created. It will give over 600,000 residents in our state a way to save for retirement at work. Knowing that employees are 15 times more likely to save merely by having access to payroll deduction, how will you continue the implementation of this important program?
Payroll deductions towards retirement funds save taxpayer money in the long term. I’ll help to continue this valuable program by voting for any bill that helps educate our workforce or allows the state to partner with deduction programs to control administrative costs.
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide an estimated 427 million hours of care each year. Nationwide, nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving, including arriving late/leaving early, cutting back their hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely. Would you support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes?
I have two daughters and a husband who is retired Connecticut Air National Guard. When my girls were growing up I was twice forced to decide between work and caring for my sick child, so I understand how vital these protections are for families. I support paid family leave, not only to safeguard our families but to preserve the talent and skills that our workers and employers have invested so much in.
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
Tolland has always been at the forefront of regionalizing services, especially when it makes sense fiscally and as an organization. We have already participated in a few programs and look forward to finding others. This should not be mandated, each community should be allowed to work with partners where it makes the most sense.
Why are you running for this office?
Tolland is a true community, filled with giving and caring people who value their hometown experience, local merchants, schools and neighbors. I want to ensure we keep our vibrant community. By volunteering on the Town Council I hope to give back the community.
What is the most pressing local issue facing your community and how would you solve it (within the capacity of the office for which you are running)?
Tolland faces a few challenges at the moment. There are a few items that seem out of our control like the state budget crisis and crumbling foundations, however, as a community we have shown we find opportunities to work together. We will continue encourage partnerships between the residents, town and state leaders, encouraging open communications, mutual respect and a deeper understanding of how these issues impact not only our neighbors as individuals, but the community as a whole.
With the state's ongoing budget crisis looming over the election, what are your plans for your community's budget? Is there anything you can do make your town less dependent on revenue from the state?
Tolland has been planning for a bright and vibrant future for a little while now. Our Superintendent has showcased some programs that move Tolland's education system into a bright future, continuing our state's tradition of a rigorous education system. Our school's are one of the cornerstones of a community's future. Tolland has weathered many storms, and we have plans to create a light house school system to bring in revenue while supporting our Tolland scholars and their families. I look forward to working with the BOE in helping them realize these goals that I believe will keep Tolland fiscally responsible to all our residents. We also have to recognize that the State should not push their inability to pass a budget onto the backs of municipalities. Local and State reps need to work together to ensure our local and state communities grow and thrive.
The legislature has been debating various ideas to allow towns to raise revenue locally through something other than property taxes. If you could ease your residents' property tax burden by adding another method of taxation, is there anything you might consider for your town?
We should be open to considering other means of revenue for our town. This process should be a partnership between the towns and our reps to ensure a good fit for our communities.
Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
Our scholars have been promised a rigorous education that prepares them for the future. We need to be true stewards for these children, our schools and our communities. Small decreases in enrollment may not allow noticeable decreases in an education budget. Larger decreases do mean adjustments. However, with the rising costs of items like health care, no decreases in state unfunded mandates, and many other factors, a direct correlation between decrease in enrollment and funding from the state is not appropriate. The modern education model looks very different, from the schools when I was growing up. The process is engaging and exciting!
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I enjoy camping and fishing, and hate buying shoes. Trivial bits of information, but I think everyone who knows me, knows I'm an open book.