Share this candidate profile:

Christine Palm

Running for State Representative

77 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: http:///

Age: 66

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Chester

Current Job: Sexual Harassment Prevention, LLC Trainer

Previous Job: Policy Analyst, Commission on Women, Children and Seniors

Previous Job: Communications Director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

Education: B.A. Goddard College, College of the Atlantic

What action(s) will you take to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs and reduce the impact of the cost of prescription drugs on taxpayers and insurance premiums?
I’d start by overhauling the Teachers Retirement Board, which railroaded many retired teachers into a United Health medication plan they did not want. I believe this agency should operate under the purview of the State Comptroller, who has bargaining power. I support our AG’s efforts to hold Big Pharma accountable for their egregious greed. I support working with healthcare providers on more palliative, preventative and alternative pain management, which is often more cost-effective.
In these inflationary times, what will you do to help ensure that Connecticut’s middle-income retirees on fixed incomes are able to keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets?
We need to overhaul our regressive tax policy. I am in favor of raising the top marginal tax rate on passive income streams over $500,000 so that the Uber-wealthy start paying a rate that is commensurate with what poor and working families pay. I voted to eliminate taxes on such retirement income sources as social security, annuities and pensions for middle-income retirees. We also have begun phasing out taxes on 401k retirement income, and we need to find similar cost savings.
How do you plan to address the growing long-term care workforce crisis in the state?
The state should invest in small "cluster" housing where older folks help take care of one another. Long-term care plans cannot keep raising premiums.
Gas prices are higher than ever, which is difficult for older adults on fixed incomes. Yet, alternatives to cars in Connecticut are limited. What will you do to help older adults access other forms of transportation?
People need to understand that OPEC controls gas prices, not states or the Feds. In any case, the answer is more public transportation. I also support bringing back tolls, which could help pay for this. In my district, the 9-Town Transit does a great job helping elders get around, and they need to be expanded.
What are the two most urgent problems facing Connecticut within the context of climate change and the environment, and what will you propose to solve them?
I was very proud that my signature bill — requiring the teaching of climate change in all public schools — was enacted this year. In addition, our solid waste management crisis must be addressed, we need to make electric vehicles more affordable, more public transit and light rail, and we need to make sure that the DEEP permitting process does not continue to burden underserved communities.
How can Connecticut's education systems create better outcomes for students in low-income communities?
I support more regionalization. A county-based system makes more sense that 169 Balkanized towns. “Back office” expense, like supplied, maintenance, etc., should be combined, while retaining the feel of each school through its teachers.
Pedestrian deaths spiked a few years ago and remain high, and it's fairly clear that driver behavior, such as distracted driving, is only getting worse despite significant efforts by law enforcement to stop it. How can Connecticut's streets be made safe for pedestrians and bicyclists?
Infrastructure repair must make a priority of pedestrian and bike routes. I support the recommendations of the Center for Latino Progress, to name one group. While I would be in favor of raising penalties for distracted driving, walking, etc., without enforcement it’s a shallow gesture.
How should the state and its school districts deal with COVID-19 going forward?
Teachers must be paid what they’re worth and I’d love to see us eventually make them eligible for Social Security. Our school buildings need HVAC emergency overhaul. And we need to make better use of our state’s gorgeous outdoor spaces. Remote learning may be here to stay -- at least in part -- and if so one teacher cannot possibly bear the load. Fastback certification for paraprofessionals who want to become fully accredited teachers and let them help with hybrid teaching. And we need to force masking in everyone who can wear one should the infection rate spike again.
What should be done on the state level to further address Connecticut's lack of affordable housing? Do you support, for example, mandating or incentivizing towns and cities to alter their zoning codes to be friendlier to affordable housing?
It starts with educating town officials that affordable housing is GOOD for their towns. Too many see it as a threat to “town character” which is a dog-whistle for keeping small towns white.
What can be done to prevent excessive consolidation of the healthcare industry and the loss of services – or, in some cases, the loss of small hospitals themselves – in the state's rural areas?
This is part of the much broader question of the abject failure of our healthcare system in general. The privatization of hospitals -- especially those owned by the Catholic Church industry -- cannot serve the public's interest. Maternity wards are a prime example.
Do you think the state's two major electric utilities (Eversource and United Illuminating) are sufficiently regulated? If not, what measures would you take to ensure that consumers are protected to the greatest extent possible against prolonged loss of services and unfair rate increases?
Not even close to being well enough regulated. As a company that holds the public safety in its hands, excessive executive compensation is sinful. Cap it. And make the company pay for hardening the grid, and allow the homeowner with alternate energy sources like solar panels have the option of donating that energy to someone else, rather than allowing the company to re-sell it.
What is your position on whether Connecticut should open its election primaries to unaffiliated voters?
I would love to see us break the logjam of the two-party system. Unaffiliated voters have no skin in the game unless they find a way to form a new party and run a candidate. Ranked Choice voting would probably help solve this "winner-take-all" system and the U's might get behind that.
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?
During the 2019 legislative session, I supported making debt-free community college accessible to people in our towns and a law that encourages recent graduates to stay here by providing Connecticut employers who hire grads with a tax credit if they assist in paying down their employee’s student loans. The Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline has also proved to play a pivotal role in making education affordable as well as incentivizing the youngest generation to stick around when they leave school and I will work to protect this funding, which directly benefits our area.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
While the 36th district is largely white, I’m well aware that when our neighbors of color are denied equality, it is to the detriment of our society at large. Equal opportunity to housing, education, jobs and good health is vital to a long, happy life. If we are to end racism, we must attack its roots. For generations Black and brown Americans have been limited in their ability to accrue wealth because of redlining, a government policy that denied loans for housing or business in minority neighborhoods. It’s the continued ripples from policies like these that still affect our towns. I stand behind legislation to increase loans and mortgages for historically disenfranchised communities.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
I am a legislator who represents towns that are predominately white, but who knows the votes I take on statewide issues have profound effects on the quality of life of people of color in our state. A disproportionate amount of essential workers are people of color when looking at the makeup of the workforce. It’s not just enough to hang a heart out your window. We must ensure these workers are compensated for their service to our state through more accessible PPE and tracing as well as a guarantee of hazard and sick pay. Additionally, I voted for the Police Accountability bill which, contrary to the false narratives being circulated, does not punish professional police but instead weeds out the bad actors who treat members of minority communities differently.
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.)
As we face economic uncertainty, Connecticut stands prepared with a Rainy Day Fund at a historic high standing at over $3 billion. Let’s face it, it’s raining. Connecticut continues to remain one of the strongest positioned states to recover from COVID-19, both in terms of the health of our people, as has been proven by our low number of cases, and by our economic preparedness for the years ahead, as has been reported by Moody’s Analytics, which called us 1 of just 7 fiscally safe states back in May. With that said, we can and must do more. I believe our state must look to additional revenue streams such as the legalization and regulation of the sale of cannabis and the implementation of a tax on passive income streams of over a million dollars per year. With a federal government unwilling to assist states with additional aid, at least until a new administration takes over, it is up to us to find additional revenue streams without increasing the burden on working families.
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
During this campaign season, I have attended multiple Chamber of Commerce forums, during which I got to hear the perspectives of local businesses in our region. While observing social distancing and other health and safety guidelines as determined by the state and Centers for Disease Control, our state government needs to be flexible with business during this public health crisis. Take for example Executive Orders of Lamont’s that allowed businesses to cut through red tape and quickly expand outdoor seating options and allowed bars to provide curbside pick up. These are the kinds of smart and forward thinking policies that will help save the mom and pop shops that are the economic center of our towns. We also need to be ever mindful of the needs of our young workforce members. Last year, I created the Young Earners Prosperity Roundtable (YEP) so Millennial and Gen Z entrepreneurs could have direct access to the Capitol. I’d like to see this expanded as part of our overall recovery.
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?
City and town councils in this state have been able to keep going throughout the pandemic using technology for hearings and votes so why can’t we? Voting electronically was a great start this summer and fall, but if re-elected, I will work with legislative leadership to create the electronic infrastructure for allowing us to conduct business next session should the pandemic worsen in the coming weeks and months. Since committee chairs set the rules for how their committees operate, I don’t think we can legislate a change, but I’d like to see our committees shift so that the public is allowed to speak first in public hearings before legislators. Especially if we are to consider returning to in-person session, we must ensure the safety of the members of the public who choose to make their voices heard. In terms of voting rights, this past summer, I worked with the Secretary of the State’s Office to help craft the language allowing residents to vote by mail during the pandemic. This fall’s additional legislation providing relief to town clerks who are inundated with ballots are the kinds of reforms we must continue to look to make to ensure we have well-run elections in these uncertain times. Whether we like it or not, science tells us that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s our responsibility as lawmakers to ensure the government is transparent to the people it represents.
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?
Health care is a human right. It is that simple. I spent much of my summer helping seemingly financially secure people who lost access to health care when they were let go or furloughed this summer, who didn’t know where to turn. People are waking up to the fact that access to doctors and medicine should not be tied to their employment, which is why I support the creation of a public option in our state. More recently, I supported what has become known as the strongest insulin price cap in the U.S. for diabetes patients in Connecticut. Until this law passed, there were active Facebook groups in our state filled with parents rationing insulin for their children. No one should have to choose between their health and bankruptcy and in the coming session must reign in prescription drug companies who profit off the backs of middle-class families.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
As I said in my previous answer, I proudly support the creation of a public option in our state. All over the world, countries have found a way to decouple healthcare from employment so that people do not lose coverage when they lose their jobs. Healthcare costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States, which is why I support the passage of legislation like the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, a reform enacted by red and blue states alike across this country. If healthcare CEOs continue to put profits before people and Congress continues to refuse to act, Connecticut must be proactive in protecting the wellbeing of its residents. Additionally, I’d like to see Telehealth become permanent after the pandemic is finally over.