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.)
Increase the tax on the top 1%! We had some of our wealthiest come and talk at the capitol in 2019 in support of this. Legalize adult-use cannabis and help maintain or reduce property tax while providing some of the revenue to schools and social services. Give the undocumented workers 150 Million dollars to help them keep their homes and apartments, after all, they pay approximately 400 Million a year in taxes and never see any part of it again. I believe if we learned something from the 2008 crisis it is that we need to commit to preemptive actions to reduce where our costs will go up and we have to do all we can to make sure where people can work during the pandemic, that they continue to work. We need to ensure the minimum wage is respected, but once this pandemic is over and we manage to come out of a financial crisis we most certainly are going to be hit with, we need to work on passing a living wage.
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
We need to make sure we push the offshore wind industry to adopt the right technique that will not only protect the marine ecosystem but produce 15 to 30 times the amount of jobs than with piledriving techniques. We need to ensure that industries and developers hire our CT workers. The workers are the future of our state and country. We also should not cut jobs, as this was one of the major mistakes we did in 2008, we then cannot recreate these jobs during a financial crisis.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
There are many forms of racism. Some of my focus will be fighting for real environmental justice, protecting our essential workers and healthcare workers, as well as our undocumented immigrants. We need to hold accountable the entities that are holding our most vulnerable population down. Let's not forget that we became one of the most, if not the most, segregated states through the manipulation of the education system. We should make sure that we have proper funding for social services as these are more and more needed. Overall we need to protect our most vulnerable communities, and in our state, one of the most if not the most segregated state in the nation, we have a lot of work to do on reform.
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?
The way we have been handling special session seems to work and we should absolutely make sure the legislature will be in full session next year! Shutting down the legislative branch is like removing the oversight we represent for the people. Looking at the Stamford Board of Representatives, they were operational this whole time and voting on ordinances every month!! So why could we not do it on the state level?
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?
With the hope that the pandemic is a temporary set back for all, I would focus on the equity part in ensuring that all can have equal access to computers and can study and go to classes virtually. Same with the job trainings. We still have systemic issues with unfair funding of schools between municipalities so we should make sure the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula is revised so every student across the state has access to similar resources.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
African Americans make up a large part of our healthcare and other essential workers force. I tried to bring up the Nursing Homes bill during special session, a bi-partisan bill, with no fiscal note, to mandate some proper standards of protection for the workers, but also for the patients, yet this bill was not brought up. We did bring and vote for the Environmental Justice bill, but we need to add more teeth to it in 2021. Also we need to work hard at protecting our state from the potential devastating impacts of climate change, we are after all a coastal state. The people the most at risk from super storms and hurricanes and drought are once again the most vulnerable in our state and they are our black and brown sisters and brothers.
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 state has a pandemic emergency protocol, and that should be scrutinized and we should make sure that not only major hospitals, but all healthcare facilities have strict mandated safety protocols. The nursing homes are the main controversy in our state with close to 70% of our deaths in the nursing homes. We need to treat our healthcare workers better.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
With a state single payer bill passing in 2021! We need Medicare For All! It will save costs to the tax payers as well as insured better healthcare and support for all.
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