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Jonathan Steinberg

Running for State Representative

1 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating


Age: 64

Marital Status: married to Nancy, with three daughters: Rachel, Margot and Charlotte

Current Residence: Westport

Current Job: legislator

Previous Job: SVP Marketing/Communications, Jewish Home Lifecare, NYC

Previous Job: Executive Director, Marketing/Communications, Mount Sinai Medical Center, NYC

Education: B.A. Yale University, M.B.A. NYU Stern School of Business, CT Teaching Certificate, ARC Program, Dept. of Education

What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
An infrastructure jobs program modeled on the old federal WPA. Could create good-paying jobs in transportation, energy, water and housing infrastructure.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
Likely support police accountability legislation. Will judge other bills on the merits.
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?
Looks like Zoom-type meetings will continue for some time. We need to find way for public to participate in hearings. Fully support expansion of mail-in ballots so citizens can vote safely.
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?
Tuition-free community college is the goal -- as long as we can figure out how to pay for it. Infrastructure initiative will require job training.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
Support acknowledging that racism is a public health emergency.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
Expand use of Telehealth; negotiating drug prices for HUSKY insured; support caps on insulin prices.
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?
Telehealth; investment in nursing home and congregate facilities, particularly HVAC systems; shift more spending to healthcare
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.)
Rainy Day Fund will cover most of short-term deficit but hoping that economy will rebound to address ongoing shortfalls.
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 support tolls because the Special Transportation Fund is effectively empty, the list of critical "state of good repair" projects is growing rapidly and over 300 state bridges need critical work. I also support tolls to reduce congestion in Fairfield County, which remains the economic engine in the state. I would not reduce the gas tax.
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 have oversight authorities such as PURA to review such mergers/acquisitions. Perhaps the Legislature needs to consider legislation that would assure the state's precious water resources are protected and that social, economic and environmental interests are harmonized.
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?
The current affordable housing system is based on state grants to cities but punitive statutes which enable predatory developers in the suburbs. If we desire truly balanced affordable housing across the state, we'll need to reform the system to partner with suburban municipalities and offer incentives for permitting more affordable units in appropriate locations with adequate infrastructure and adherence to SmartGrowth principles.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
The ECS formula is broken and needs a complete rethinking. Any new model should be simple to explain and administer, not rife with special exceptions and ancient carve outs. Most importantly, a new model should be measurable, because spending per student is often not the best indicator of educational excellence, or even progress.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
Probably yes -- all the surrounding states are going that way -- but the language would be critically important. I'd model it on the state's successful medical marijuana program with its rigorous chain of custody, security, product integrity and labeling. I remain concerned about underage access and law enforcement conundrums.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
We've been cutting programs and services for the most vulnerable for the last eight years, by dint of desperation, and we're now eliminating programs which we know work and are critical to people. We must achieve a sustainable budget to avoid further draconian cuts, by looking for innovative solutions including the efforts of the Pension Sustainability Commission, which I Chair.
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?
Jobs, jobs, jobs! Create opportunities for all to participate in our economy through incentives to get training and education for the jobs of today. Help small companies to grow and prosper here, creating new, good-paying jobs.
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?
As former Chair of the M.O.R.E. Commission, I worked to promote a top-down approach to regionalizing purchasing and shared services. The State's budget situation makes it unlikely that incentives through grants will be forthcoming. So I like the bottom-up initiatives facilitated at the municipal level with the help of organizations like CCM. There are plenty of examples and best practices right here in CT on which to base such programs.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
Creating the environment to grow key industry clusters like bioscience and green tech. But also make it easier for small businesses like the precision manufacturing sector and new startups to grow.
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?
The law enforcement emphasis has not stemmed the epidemic. As House Chair of the Public Health Committee, I understand that expanding treatment options and adopting best practices based on medically assisted treatment are the best path to ending this crisis. We've already passed legislation to require education of prescribers and patients, track frequent opioid use, reduce prescription quantities, and making NARCAN more available for emergencies. But we need more funding for mental health as well as recovery and treatment access.
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?
Unfortunately, it's a flawed system which may cost more than it benefits in the short term. Fixing it should be a priority.
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, but not the legislation that was proposed last session. Any program should be able to cover its anticipated costs. Following the models of some other states may allow us to consider such a bill in the coming session.