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Michael Winkler

Running for State Representative

4 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating


Age: 70

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Vernon

Current Job: State Legislator

Previous Job: Union Vice-Prersident

Previous Job: Union President

Education: Masters Degree in Political Science from UConn

What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
Connecticut businesses depend on consumer and government spending. Maintaining the federal supplement to unemployment is important. Starting an infrastructure repair and replace program will provide jobs. Expanding training for the jobs of the future will help the trainees find jobs and attract businesses seeking an expert workforce. Federal defense spending will be quite high for at least the next ten years which benefits Electric Boat, Pratt Whitney and Sikorsky and their supply providers located throughout the state.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
Zoning laws which prevent affordable housing must be changed through legislative action. Medical care must be made affordable to all, through expanding Medicaid eligibility and services, through a public option health insurance plan and through a single-payer health plan. The changes to the Educational Cost Sharing formula must be accelerated to further benefit schools in districts that have suffered from discrimination in housing, red-lining and discriminatory zoning in the past. Regional approaches to education should be expanded..
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?
I believe in expanding absentee balloting and multi-day voting. Social distancing and mask-wearing must be mandatory at the polls. Mask-wearing must be mandatory at the Capitol. All meetings must be on-line or on television. Legislators may watch debate from their offices and vote from their offices (already implemented in the House).
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 supported free community college which begins in the fall. I will support colleges implementing distance learning. I will continue to support expanding apprenticeship programs.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
I would expand Husky (Medicaid) eligibility and services, including wellness check-ups..
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
Connecticut should pass the Comptroller's plan for a public health insurance option. Connecticut will limit the price of insulin in the special session and should move on from there to other medically vital drugs and equipment. Wellness checks provided by all insurers and Medicaid (Husky) would save money by catching conditions early when they are much less expensive to treat.
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?
We should expand Husky (medicaid) and provide a public health insurance option. We should have our own stockpiles of personal protective equipment and never again trust assurances from the federal government that they have us covered. Our last coal-fired electrical generating plant should be shut down and no new incinerators or gas electrical generation plants should be built. Current gas generation plants should be replaced with wind, hydro and and solar power. Smoking cessation programs should be free for all The hidden and under-publicized dangers of sugar should be widely publicized..
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.)
Compared to some other states and the rest of the world, Connecticut undertaxes wealth and businesses. It's not that we have low rates, it's that we have the lowest effective business tax rates because of all of the exceptions lobbyists have been able to acquire for their industries. I would end the exceptions, or if necessary, adjust the rates. People say Connecticut businesses are fleeing to New York and Boston because of taxes, but takes are significantly higher than Connecticut's in both those locations. We've cut 13,000 state employees since 2008 (40% at Unemployment), When the private sector hospitals, convalescent homes, assisted living facilities and group homes failed to handle the pandemic, the state did not have the resources to handle their problems. To cut medical benefits in a pandemic makes no sense. I would cut all payments to businesses to locate here, or to prevent relocation, or to expand. It's proven not to be cost effective. I would enter a multi-state compact to end such payments regionally and nationally.
Do you believe public schools in Connecticut require an essential makeover, as outlined by Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher's decision in September? What, in your opinion, is the number-one issue regarding public education in the state?
Yes. Equitable funding, considering both source and distribution, is the primary issue.
Will you oppose legislation that will require utility customers to subsidize the profitability of merchant generators, such as the Millstone nuclear power plant, unless those merchant generators demonstrate the need to their customers and the state with financial reports that show their actual loss in profits?
Yes, public utilities are regulated monopolies and regulators need the facts.
How would you reduce the state employee pension liabilities and debt service, which together comprise 25% of the state's annual budget?
Four years ago, state employees agreed to retire three years later and pay for retirees medical benefits, saving the state tens of billions of dollars. I'd refinance what remains.
Does Connecticut have a revenue problem or a spending problem?
Both. Connecticut does not properly collect its revenues and does not properly prioritize spending.
Would you support laws that provide for family leave or other workplace flexibility for employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes? What proposals would you champion to help family caregivers who are balancing a career and family obligations or health emergencies?
Yes. There's plenty of room for flexibility in scheduling, even if employers may need a few core hours when everyone is available for meetings. However, remote (electronic) participation in those meetings is possible when necessary. There are management/labor contract flextime provisions which work well now.
Community College students recently won a reprieve but are facing the possibility of a significant tuition hike. What are you planning to do to ensure that community college remains an affordable option for families?
Education is now a basic need and must be prioritized and affordable. With the federal government's help, I believe community college can be free.
What would you do as a state legislator to address the opioid epidemic in our state?
A multi-pronged approach including scrutiny of over-prescribers, assistance to the addict, and public health measures to help prevent overdose deaths (i.e. NARCAM availability).
Today, over 600,000 residents in our state don’t have 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, will you commit to supporting the newly passed Connecticut Retirement Security Act that will provide these workers with access to private payroll deduction IRA accounts?
Yes. Since the provisions of the CRSA pay for themselves, and help future retirees, there is no valid reason not to support it.
Who are you supporting for president and why?
Hillary Clinton because Donald Trump's foreign and domestic policies are dangerous to world peace and our country's freedoms.