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David Rubino

Running for State Representative

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Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: https://www.rubino2020.com/

Age: 49

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Old Lyme

Current Job: Attorney - Rubino Law, LLC

Previous Job: Attorney - American Bar Association

Previous Job: Attorney - Demos

Education: J.D. Fordham Law School; B.A. - Tufts University

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.)
There's no easy answer to this question as the goalposts keep moving. I would look to increase revenue for the state as a primary tool - if that means lowering the estate tax exemption threshold to a more reasonable figure than it's current amount (over $5 million for individuals, double for couples) then that's one place to start. Any tax increases would have to fall only on the highest earners to ensure they are paying their fair share.
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
The economy of our district has many moving parts, but much of it revolves around tourism. I will Stand Up for the small business owners and our industry professionals and help get them back on their feet as we reopen. I will work with our local leaders to keep tourism dollars here. But we don’t live in a vacuum. The health of our local economy is inextricably intertwined with that of the state and the nation. I will support smart initiatives to help the economy grow while ensuring that working families aren’t left behind. Our economy became the world’s strongest on the shoulders of a strong middle class, and my economic policies will ensure that we build upon that solid foundation rather than widening the already enormous wealth gap in our country. With the impacts of COVID-19, it’s time to get creative. One silver lining to all of this for Connecticut in particular is that people have seen that industry is less location-dependent. Before, being in a big city like New York or Boston was a prerequisite to true business success. Now the equation has flipped in some ways. Why pay prohibitively expensive New York City office rent if people have to be six feet apart? Why risk a work force dependent on a public subway system that is potentially rife with the next pandemic-spreading germ? Suddenly our state and our district has a business allure that it arguably never had before. And that allure is increased by the realization that remote work, while different, is possible in most industries. Now is a perfect time to attract small business and entrepreneurs via incubators, share spaces, and a solid marketing campaign highlighting our region’s resources, lifestyle and natural beauty. In addition we need to get smart. Travel and tourism will take time to recover, but with strong policy we can get there and even increase it. Moreover, we need to set aside political differences and embrace a ideas similar to those posed in a Green New Deal as not only necessary for our environment, but now crucial for job growth and our economy. I believe that with the right leadership, Connecticut, and District 23 in particular, can find a balance between surviving this crisis from a health perspective, rebuilding our economy, and keeping the character and charm of our local communities.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
My racial justice platform is based on the underlying fact that the racism in our country is systemic in nature. I would support the current Police Accountability Bill, but in addition I would focus on: Criminal justice reform: Including shifting focus to community policing programs, redirecting funds to training initiatives and/or to other agencies better equipped to deal with duties that should not be handled by police in the first place, increasing police accountability, banning choke holds, instituting a “duty to intervene” rule, reforming sentencing laws and policies, revisiting qualified immunity protections and ending racial profiling. Educational reform: Including ensuring that distance-learning initiatives are appropriate for low-income households with less access to technology, investing in the K-12 system, supporting college affordability, and promoting student debt relief. Political reform: Including protecting voting rights and preventing voter suppression, fighting for automatic voter registration at age 18, “no excuse” absentee voting, and vote by mail, and ending harmful gerrymandering practices which deny people of color an equal voice. Economic reform: Including supporting affordable housing and protecting C.G.S. Sec. 8-30g, tackling predatory lending, eliminating discriminatory banking practices, and curtailing inequitable protections to generational wealth.
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?
We've all adjusted to the realities of COVID-19. One upside of the last six months is that we've learned to conduct business remotely across almost all sectors. There is no reason that the legislature cannot do the same.
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?
I think Connecticut's "Pledge to Advance Connecticut" (PACT) program is an excellent first step. This free community college program has been called a "last-dollar scholarship" that makes Connecticut's 12 community colleges tuition- and fee-free for students who meet certain criteria. I would review the implementation of PACT in the 2020 school year and, assuming it is successful, seek ways to legislatively expand it going forward.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shared a report in April that found 33% of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were black, although they made up just 18% of the community being evaluated. Moreover, black Americans are dying at 2 1/2 times the rate of white Americans. Part of the reason for that, is because of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, African Americans are disproportionately likely to be doing so-called essential jobs - in the food industry, working in health services, driving taxis. On the upside, that means these workers still have their jobs. On the downside, it means they have to keep working and potentially put their health at risk. I would therefore focus on lowering barriers to the collection of unemployment benefits so that this choice would not have the ill-effects it is currently having.
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?
The current pandemic has put a spotlight on how crucial affordable health care for all is from a public safety perspective. In order to stem the spread of this virus, we must be able to test, identify and treat all those who may be infected – not just those who can afford to see a doctor. But guaranteed health insurance will have profound advantages for the economy as well. Specifically, it will: • Encourage small business development by eliminating the high cost of health care from startup and operating costs. • Increase wages and salaries by allowing employers to redirect money they are spending on health care costs to their workers’ wages. • Lessen the economic shock of losing a job or moving between jobs by eliminating the accompanying loss of health care. I am a human rights lawyer and I have always believed health care is a human right. In Hartford I will fight for a health care solution that benefits us all.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
In general I am a supporter of a single-payer federal universal healthcare system. Having lived and worked all over the world, I have witnessed first hand how effective and necessary such systems are. Of course that's a heavy lift. In the interim there are some short term things we can do to save money, and the pandemic has given us some insight into at least one of them: telemedicine. Telemedicine enables a hub-and-spoke system to efficiently and economically serve patients seeking care, thereby lowering the out-of-pocket expenses for patients.