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?
An "essential makeover" is too far-reaching a directive to ever begin to remedy (again) the funding inequities that really do exist between the urban schools in Connecticut and the suburban towns, particularly with the 180 day timeline imposed by the judge. But taking up the funding inequity is definitely an issue that the General Assembly must handle immediately. All one has to do is take a trip to Rawson or MLK in Hartford, to see that inadequacy, in the educational resources available to students, as well as the lack of infrastructure funding to tackle the repair of the buildings that are sorely in need of such repair. The second issue, much more difficult to address, is the lack of diversity in these poorly funded urban schools. Magnet schools, charter schools, and Project Choice still leaves a significant number of children, mostly children of color, in schools that are de facto segregated, almost as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.
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?
I will oppose such legislation. Accountability and transparency will be key phrases throughout this legislative session.
How would you reduce the state employee pension liabilities and debt service, which together comprise 25% of the state's annual budget?
There must be ongoing conversations with the unions regarding options to the traditional pension plans, a defined benefit plan, and a defined contribution plan, a 401k type plan. My understanding is that younger workers prefer the 401k because it can move with the employee. Employers prefer this type of plan because it is less costly to maintain. But I believe at the beginning workers should be given the option as to which plan works best for them.
Does Connecticut have a revenue problem or a spending problem?
I believe primarily a revenue problem. The assumptions regarding anticipated revenue never materialized. That affected the ability to cover the spending. The difficulty arose when it was time to face the music and make spending adjustments. The result was cuts and layoffs as the remedy. I will work to make sure that scenario does not happen again.
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?
I think a comprehensive family leave package would benefit both employer and employee, whether it be for having a baby, injury, or illness. And it should be a paid leave for a reasonable amount of time.
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?
I believe that community and technical schools are most important in supplying the workforce for our businesses. I will work to keep these schools affordable by providing scholarships to students who intend to live and work in Connecticut. I would also work for the state to provide companies with a financial "discount" if the company hires these graduates. I would also work to put a cap on tuition.
What would you do as a state legislator to address the opioid epidemic in our state?
I would follow carefully the Senate and House bills, signed by Governor Malloy, as to its effectiveness, since it was only recently enacted. Based on that observation, I would work with my colleagues to improve on the bill where needed. Possible areas if not already in the leglsiation: school curriculum lesson plans (age appropriate,) TV and radio ads on popular shows watched and radio stations listened to by young people, and teaching parents to actively and thoroughly question their children about the issue.
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. As I mentioned above, that should be an option made available to employers and employees The only problem is that it can be more volatile that the traditional pension, since it is market driven. But it is better than not having a retirement option at all.
Who are you supporting for president and why?
Hillary Clinton. In spite of the growing email flap, she is more presidential and more knowledgeable than Donald Trump. Also his temperament is volatile.
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