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Aili McKeen

Running for State Senator

19 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status:


Age: 53

Marital Status: married

Current Residence: Wallingford

Current Job: personal property specialist for a PA

Previous Job: graphic design & pre-press

Previous Job:

Education: High School/some college

Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Yes, I would support a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. Several medical studies have determined no significant lasting health detriment to use in adults, and alcohol use is far more likely to lead to violent behavior. There is overwhelming evidence that the federal prohibition on marijuana has led to a dramatic increase in arrests for drug possession, which has disproportionately hurt African Americans. Furthermore, legalizing recreational marijuana would also enable the state to tax and regulate it, which would increase state revenue and help to eliminate the dangerous black market that currently exists.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
Our tax code needs to reflect our moral code. We need to more carefully consider bonding programs based on return of investment. There are many places we can trim the fat off the current budget, including audits of all state agencies to find waste. Investing in education and community-based programs will more than pay for themselves in the long term with economic growth. We really need to re-focus our legislature to serve the residents of Connecticut.
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?
Economic insecurity is a major problem in our state and country. There are a variety of policies which would help lower and middle class families, including raising the minimum wage and creating an opt-in Medicare for All program which would be more affordable for consumers. An earned family leave program will help many parents, adult children, and those suffering illnesses to weather personal crisis. I also believe we must make higher education more affordable, increase the availability of vocational education, and support pre-apprenticeship programs for those wishing to pursue a career in the trades.
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 support equitable education funding for all towns in Connecticut. A child’s future should not be determined by his or her zip code, but we know that the best performing schools in Connecticut are located in the wealthiest towns I believe regionalization can reduce costs, especially at an administrative level, but it must be driven from the bottom-up. Parents and communities need to be comfortable and maintain their current level of control over their public schools. Reducing the state ECS obligation will lead to increased property taxes in many communities. Property taxes are more burdensome to residents than progressive tax options.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
We need good paying jobs with a community standard of fringe benefits. To ensure this we must protect collective bargaining, raise the minimum wage which will help level the field and help employers reduce expensive turnover. I believe there's a lot we can do to grow small business, including availability to low-interest loans and an affordable Medicare for All option. Small business insulates a community against large scale job loss and are an important part of economic stability. Once again, affordability and availability to higher education is important.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
Unless a position requires a background check - which job applicants should be informed of in advance - then yes. The goal of the criminal justice program should be rehabilitation. It is very difficult to rehabilitate oneself when one cannot find a job.
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?
We can't let our bridges collapse AGAIN. We have to fund road maintenance. Our grandparents invested their tax money building them, and our economy relies on moving people and product around the state. So, we can do that ourselves, or we can get out of staters to help. The way we get out of state help is through tolls. Every state around us has tolls. I see about one out of three cars on the highway has an out of state plate --- almost always a state with tolls. We pay to use their roads and they use our's for free. And I never hear New Yorkers complain about tolls, and they have the highest tolls I know of on their bridges crossing the Hudson -- they cut us off from the rest of the country because we can't avoid them. So, yes, I will vote for tolls.
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?
The privatization of water in Connecticut has the potential of becoming a serious public health problem. I believe the Connecticut government should pass a law ensuring that Connecticut’s water resources remain in public control because out-of-state commercial interests should not be trusted with possession of such an essential resource.
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 encourage municipalities to create or expand mixed use zones, with the backing of a structured, but limited tax relief program that would reward higher occupancy, commercial units with affordable condos/rentals on upper floors.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
I believe that one important change to the ECS formula would be to apply it to non-local public schools (e.g., magnet schools, local and state charter schools), because these schools do not base their funding on student and community needs. Connecticut currently has a complicated system of more than 10 different education funding formulas, and there's a lack of transparency on how it's applied. Part of the problem lies in how districts use the funding they get. Often, much of the budget increase stays in administration and never gets into the classroom.
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?
There is no question that substance addiction is a serious problem in all types of communities, and the government is obligated to help those affected by this addiction by improving treatment centers and reducing the over-prescription of painkillers. I believe that the overprescription of painkillers has been a particularly dangerous practice regarding the issue of addiction, and the government should collaborate with members of the medical community to determine the extent to which these prescriptions should be reduced while still meeting the needs of patients with severe chronic pain. I believe education, treatment, and regulation of opioid based painkillers should precede enforcement, but we need all efforts to work in conjunction in order to make gains against this complex problem.
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 would continue the implementation of this program by incentivizing private businesses to offer retirement security to their employees. The Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created because the private sector was not meeting this significant need, but it is still important that businesses provide retirement benefits to their employees if they are financially capable of doing so.
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, I would strongly support a law providing paid family leave because I know that so many working-class people cannot afford to reduce their pay, let alone lose their jobs, in order to care for their families. At a time where 40% of Connecticut residents cannot affordable basic services such as food and housing, it is clear that the the wealthiest nation in the world should provide paid family leave to all employees, as the rest of the industrialized world does.