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John-Michael Parker

Running for State Representative

9 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating


Age: 32

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Madison

Current Job: Executive Director, Arts for Learning Connecticut

Previous Job: The Future Project, Vice President, Development

Previous Job: Teacher, The Dalton School

Education: Yale University Class of 2010 degree in neurobiology; Daniel Hand High School Class of 2006

Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
I would need to see more data and research—and to have conversations with important stakeholders (individuals and organizations) in my district—before making a decision. I am aware that there is an important criminal justice reform element to this policy, though I am also aware that there are many in Madison and Durham who worry about the public health implications, particularly on youth, of legalization. I look forward to learning more and then making the best, most informed (and representative) decision.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
Even in the face of another deficit, the state cannot cut funding that supports vulnerable populations—not only because it's the right thing to do, but because supporting more people through the process of living full, engaged, purposeful lives will ultimately support the economic growth our state needs in the long run. We have to be able to find efficiencies elsewhere, while living up to our values.
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?
I would work hard to ensure fair, equitable, and adequate education funding to help with a root cause of this challenge, and I would work hard to make investments to grow our economy so that we can reasonably (and without stifling opposition) fund the programs that support folks facing such challenges. And in the short term, I would help bring more efficiency to spending already going into programs supporting housing, food, healthcare, and child care; I would support new legislation aimed at taking on these challenges (like raising the minimum wage, and ensuring paid family and medical leave); and I would work with community advocates, service providers, and, ultimately, those directly effected by these problems to figure out how the state could do better.
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?
We need more efficiency, and we need effective programming; regionalization is a viable solution for both, in some contexts. But we need to make sure that municipal leaders are partners in these conversations—as well as the service providers potentially being regionalized—so that we're regionalizing in a way that is effective for them, and doesn't cause new problems that must be solved. So, I'd sit down with the leaders in my towns and figure out what opportunities are most viable, and then look for broader legislative and policy changes that would incentivize these across the state (when, of course, reasonable in those particular areas).
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
The state should focus on transportation (investing in infrastructure and expediting ongoing projects so that our roads, bridges, trains, and airports are fully functioning and helping reduce the billions lost in productivity due to poor transportation), and education (protecting current excellent schools like those here in the 101st, and also providing additional job trainings and skills programs for folks that want something other than a 4-year college path). Also, the state should find ways to make our climate more business-friendly, looking at reducing undue regulations and incentivizing entrepreneurship by providing more access to business loans and maybe even student loan forgiveness for folks who stay in CT to take jobs here.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
I would, though I am aware that according to new data there is a potential of actually *increasing* bias without this question on an application, given the tendency of all of us (and in this case, employers) to make assumptions about people based on factors like race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status. And so, I'd be sure to find ways to decrease or manage this bias, while not throwing out the overall positive step of banning the box.
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 would support tolls with a reduction in the gas tax and maybe even an income tax credit for those hardest hit. (This is, of course, contingent on electronic tolling and lower—but still viable and legal—rates for CT residents.) Right now we're subsidizing travel on our roads for out of state drivers, and it's costing us dearly. And when we go to neighboring states we pay, often happily. We should be charging those same folks for coming to and through CT.
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?
We can support legislation that protects public control of water through a strong and conservationally sound state water plan. We can disincentivize this behavior, and we can discourage (and potentially even provide legislative oversight) of such deals. This is critically important work.
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 would consider incentivizing new municipal behavior through funding opportunities from the state to municipalities (which of course requires a growing economy and strong enough budget to afford such incentives.) And, specifically in Madison, I would help bring multiple perspectives into the conversation around a hot-button issue about potential housing, Academy Street School, to see if we could move in the right direction in one hyper local context.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
We must bring more equity and fairness and transparency to this formula, and we must us it as a standard across all schools and educational institutions.
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?
This isn't, of course, an either/or. There is some truth to the idea of wanting stronger law enforcement around particularly vulnerable populations; there is also a lot of truth to the notion that we need to support folks facing (or likely to face) addiction through treatment, prevention, and mental health counseling. In my opinion, it seems that the latter is potentially the more timely and crucial route at this moment in time—though we must not forget that there are many critical sides to this issue.
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?
We should be sure to continue offering such a payroll deduction in order to set up the best possible chance for engagement with the program. And we should be sure to keep an eye on the process as it is going forward in order to find out the opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
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?
Yes. This is an economic justice issue that will have a broad, positive impact.