What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
Mortgage/rent moratorium. Financial institutions received $1.5 trillion at the beginning of COVID and are in the best position to absorb financial losses, rather than individuals or small businesses (this is especially true since banks now make more money from fees than they do from interest).
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?
Social distancing and masks substantially reduce both the spread and deadliness of COVID-19. Video conferencing has made legislating viable and should be continued. Absentee ballots should be permitted and the state should explore internet-based voting or other voting alternatives as well. Any security issues would need to be seriously addressed, but if we feel comfortable banking, buying, selling, and/or market trading online, then it seems improbable that we can't safely vote online.
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?
Given the inelasticity of the higher education market, the state may have to step in to more effectively and tightly regulate the public higher education market. At the very least, there should be one free higher education option available in this state so no one has to choose to mortgage their entire financial future for the sake of an education or additional job training. Given that those with higher educations and higher levels of skill tend to earn more money, this investment will be repaid in full through higher taxes on the additional income earned. In addition, businesses that require highly skilled workers should not solely benefit from the privatization of education; rather, they should be obligated to pay for a certain portion of the worker's education, if they intend to benefit from that worker's higher level of skill and education.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
There is no specific legislation that can reduce "racism". Racism is a cultural and personal phenomenon and cannot be legislated away. STRUCTURAL or systemic racism on the other hand CAN be reduced via specific legislation. For me, that legislation would look to reduce housing segregation, to reduce criminal justice racism, both from the initial police encounters and on through to the courts, and educational racism via property taxes and higher education policies. Specifically, I would look to streamline statewide zoning rules to disallow red-lining and forced segregation--this would include minimizing reliance on "character" based arguments to prohibit certain types of housing (more specifically, character based arguments would need to be based on "New England charm" type arguments not "no poor people' arguments). Second, the police accountability bill was a good first step in addressing street-based racist encounters between police and citizens, but the law and policies provide that those in minority communities and those in poverty will receive far more police interaction than those in the suburbs and those who are white. These policies (such as drug possession and drug sale laws) are targeted towards penalizing minority and poor communities by turning addiction into a crime, and worse, a felony, which removes additional rights for those convicted. Finally, the state should consider eliminating "legacy" decisions for higher education admissions. Legacy decisions permit underqualified or even UNqualified students to take valuable admission slots away from far more deserving non-legacy admissions. If we believe in meritocracy, then merit should be our admission yardstick.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
Single-payer healthcare. This can happen at the state or federal level.
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.)
Connecticut should use as much of the rainy day fund as is prudent in the current pandemic budgetary crisis. Until we can more accurately predict the long-term economic impact on Connecticut's economy, we should be cautious about drastic measures designed to balance the budget. Increasing taxes on individuals earning more than $500,000 annually and businesses earning more than $5 million annually could close some of the income gap. Tolls on out-of-state trucking could also alleviate some highway spending and permit re-allocation of those repair dollars. Each of these measures could contain a sunset provision that would require that they are automatically terminated at the end of the public health emergency and they would then need to be reintroduced and re-passed in order to remain law. A mortgage moratorium would also ensure that people have sufficient money to pay taxes, which would minimize the hit to the state coffers. This of course would need to be coupled with an assurance that no taxes would be collected until individuals can purchase their minimum necessities. The key would be to remain flexible and willing to alter the plan if it seems to be failing the people who need it most.
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?
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
Single-payer healthcare. Healthcare will not thrive as a "for-profit" venture. The consequences of cost cutting and quality degradation are too severe. The market simply will not police this industry effectively and innocent people will die as a result. Second, single-payer healthcare will dramatically reduce administrative costs for healthcare. Third, pharmaceutical prices should be capped not open to the market due to the inelasticity of the drug market and drug advertisements should be prohibited.
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