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Molly Spino

Running for State Representative

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Republican

CEP Status: participating

Website: www.mollyspino.com

Age: 35

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Torrington

Current Job: Senior Real Estate Paralegal

Previous Job:

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Education: BS Legal Studies, Summa Cum Laude, University Scholar, Post University, Waterbury, CT

Facebook: @mollyspino65

Twitter: @mollyspino

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Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
While I understand (and largely agree with) the many arguments for gradual legalization of small amounts of marijuana, this is an area where I feel coordination with the federal government is crucial. State laws in tension with the federal schedules for controlled substances, however outdated those schedules may be, open our citizens to many unforeseen problems. Those who work or frequently travel to neighboring states may find themselves inadvertently committing a crime in those jurisdiction if they carry their legal marijuana with them. Federal banking laws make it difficult for dispensaries to operate within the traditional FDIC system, creating a potentially dangerous glut of cash around the industry. And, as with anything that enters the tax-and-regulate system, the taxes will always go up, leading to a boom of cheaper black-market activity as we’ve seen in places such as Colorado and Washington.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
In my opinion, the state absolutely has the duty to protect and care for its most vulnerable populations. The state also has the absolute duty to provide an infrastructure conducive to a growing a modern economy—roads, bridges, mass transit, education. Beyond those two critical functions of government, difficult decisions must be made, and made in a hurry. For example, Torrington certainly appreciates its new turf athletic field and the Warner Theater will undoubtedly love its new roof, but—when you’re broke—those things are extravagances that should be set aside until we have the money to pay for them. I support a dramatic reduction in discretionary spending in most other areas, and a rethink as soon as humanly possible of the size and cost of our state workforce.
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?
I hope this program goes away…but not in the way you may expect. In a perfect world, this program isn’t necessary, because workers have become financially literate and taken control of their financial planning. In my opinion, an increased emphasis on financial literacy and teaching the basics of personal finance as early as high school will help mitigate the retirement security crisis and make the CRSP program obsolete. But sadly, we’re not yet there. So, as long as the promises that have been made about the program being self-sustaining and not reliant on tax dollars turn out to be true, I think this program is an important one and will end up saving us money in the long run—long-term thinking we need more of in this State. Our upcoming retirement security crisis is real, and is terrifying. Virtually none of us are where we want to be in our retirement planning, if we’re even planning at all. That truth will eventually turn into hundreds of thousands of indigent elderly, largely reliant on state and federal services, a situation could be avoided if we just make it easier for workers to save for their futures.
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?
To me, this is purely an Economics 101 question. As a State Rep, I will do everything in my power to grow our economy so that jobs are the answer for that 40 percent. I sincerely doubt that any meaningful percentage of that group wants a handout, I honestly believe they just want the opportunity to earn sustainable livings. I want more jobs, better jobs, and higher-paying jobs, but having those requires a re-think of the way we do business in this State. We can invest more in workforce training. We can incentivize apprenticeship and entrepreneurship programs. We can aggressively simplify our regulatory and occupational licensing regimes. We can reduce employers’ tax burdens so they can pay more, and employees’ tax burdens so they can keep more of what they earn. We can invest in infrastructure, education, mass transit and the like that can make Connecticut attractive to both companies and young families.
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?
Absolutely! Connecticut’s small towns are living case-studies in inefficiency, duplicating services with neighboring towns for no apparent operational reason. We must examine any regulatory hurdles to regionalization, as well as eliminate as many mandates as is safe to promote municipal savings and streamlining. Perhaps we should investigate re-empowering our counties to offer certain services at that level for small towns that cannot affordably maintain their own.
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 believe that, in the modern economy, policies that accommodate work-life balance and the necessities of family are crucial to attracting a top-flight workforce. Many large companies already understand this and are leading the charge on paid family leave, a trend I hope other employers recognize and follow suit. I would like to work with both the business community and family advocates to figure out a plan that incentivizes paid leave programs by employers in a way that does not involve a costly, clunky, one-size-fits-nobody state mandate.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
Make economy-boosting infrastructure investments the absolute top priority of the state budget. Modernize our anti-business regulatory regime. Make the tax code fairer and less burdensome. Prohibit buy-offs of the private companies who are holding Connecticut hostage for handouts, instead focusing on how to make our State so attractive they won’t consider leaving in the first place.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
No.
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 do not support tolls for Connecticut. Tolls are just another tax for residents, a tax we cannot afford. In addition to the cost of the tolls, tolls will increase the cost of services, such as fuel, electricity, groceries, and other delivery services to our communities. There are other ways to fund transportation that we must look at before taxing our residents more.
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?
This is an issue we need to follow closely. The State must do what they can to protect our water supply and natural resources.
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?
I feel that every town in Connecticut should have affordable housing options and we should be educating the towns on the advantages of having multi-family units. As a believer in small government and allowing municipalities to make decisions based on what is best for their town, I would not support legislation that forces municipalities to change their zoning regulations.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
We need to work towards a new model of ECS funding in addition to removing many of the unfunded mandates forced on municipalities that increases the cost of services or programs that may not be needed or beneficial for their schools.
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?
All of the above.