State Representative District 85

Mary Mushinsky

3 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: https://mushinsky2020.com/

Age: 69

Marital Status: married

Current Residence: Wallingford

Current Job: state representative and river advocate

Previous Job: CCAG organizer and lobbyist

Previous Job: USDA Forest Service

Education: SCSU B.A. Biology; Wesleyan M.A.L.S. science

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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.)
We have a cushion for the first year because we filled the Rainy Day Fund to 15% of the budget, but the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis predicts shortfalls starting next year. We should promote regional services like the other regions of the U.S. are already using. CT has already saved millions through multi-state purchasing of prescription drugs. The top 1% of taxpayers can afford to pay a higher income tax rate, if it is necessary to maintain human services, health care and education.
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
I support keeping safety measures in place to prevent a resurgence of the high COVID-19 rates we saw in April, while we await a vaccine. I’m seeking additional federal help for temporary benefits for folks who are unemployed and for business paycheck protection. The state should assist business recovery from COVID-19 by purchasing goods, services and labor from local companies. The state should fund education and apprenticeships to produce well-trained employees for advanced manufacturing and health care, two employment sectors which dominate our region. I’m nudging residents into Platform to Employment and other apprenticeships, so they may get back to work soon.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
I voted for the police accountability law which provides more training to defuse racial tensions and allows the decertification of a rogue officer who is found to have used excessive force to harm or kill a suspect. I continue to support affordable housing requirements so that each municipality must provide affordable choices for working families. Racism is reduced when families are able to move freely to localities with better educational opportunities, and communities become more diverse.
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?
At the legislature, it should be possible to carry out committee meetings and public hearings using virtual technology. We have already tried it successfully during the legislative special sessions held this summer. Full participation with safety will require use of cell phones, personal laptops or community laptops. Elections will be safer for the public if we continue to allow voting by absentee ballot for the foreseeable future.
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?
In two of my committees, I have supported free community college and post secondary school job training as well as Platform to Employment and other apprenticeship programs. It is also possible to establish a loan program for attendance at a CT 4-year state college or state university that is started with state bonds, as Oregon has done. Students pay it back after graduation.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), African-Americans are 4.7 times more likely than non-Hispanic white Americans to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and are more likely to die from the disease. Risk factors include more Black Americans work in frontline jobs, higher rates of obesity, and systemic racism that affects overall health outcomes. One specific policy would be to target prevention of chronic diseases in the African-American community which are a risk factor for poor outcomes. Other policies include ensuring all front line workers are provided with personal protective equipment, improving food and nutrition in African-American neighborhoods that are food deserts, and of course, universal health care so all residents have access to preventive care.
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?
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), health plans need to emphasize prioritizing chronic disease prevention, which is a risk factor for poor outcomes in pandemics. Everyone needs the opportunity to receive lifestyle coaching and economic, health care and social support for healthier lifestyles and nutrition. Some health systems in California are using distance learning for patients with pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure or risk of obesity. Physicians in Philadelphia are reaching at risk patients through a network of community-based organizations. We can copy these models for CT.
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
As a general rule, costs are lower if a health care pool serves a large membership. Bulk purchase of prescription drugs and preventive services such as vaccines, flu shots, mandatory annual checkups and age-related screenings are cheaper for the group due to more powerful purchasing power. The U.S. Veterans Health Care System, state employees health plan and universal health care are examples of purchasing pool savings. Whoever needs health care should be allowed into the state Medicaid pool. Access can be improved, and costs reduced, by redirecting non-emergency care to community-based health care centers.

Weston Ulbrich

0 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Republican

CEP Status: participating

Website: www.ulbrich2020.com

Age:

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Current Residence: Wallingford

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