State Representative District 89

Lezlye Zupkus

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Party: Republican

CEP Status: participating

Website:

Age:

Marital Status:

Current Residence: Prospect

Current Job:

Previous Job:

Previous Job:

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EJ Maher

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Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: https://ejforthe89th.com/

Age: 40

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Bethany

Current Job: Firefighter

Previous Job: Production Controller (Aerospace mfg)

Previous Job: Film Production

Education: New York University B.S. Culture and Comm. 2004

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.)
What can be done to improve the business climate in Connecticut while COVID-19 continues to be a risk?
I would like to see all businesses operating as normally as is practical provided they take seriously the need to wear masks when/where appropriate and maintain social distancing on their premises which may unfortunately mean reducing their occupant capacity. There must be however reasonable exceptions/modifications permitted for businesses whose strict following of preventative measures would prevent them from operating at all... This all assumes we stay below reasonable action level infection rates. We must strive to reduce transmission risk as much as possible while conceding that our long term economic and social health counts on a return to life as we know it as soon as possible which means getting back to work even if that return comes with a minimal, measured, reasonable and justifiable risk.
What specific legislation would you support to reduce racism in Connecticut?
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?
Our communities and municipalities have proven remarkably resilient as they move their lives and business online. I will prioritize permitting/requiring continued and improved remote access to public meetings and hearings, voting, schooling, telehealth, and virtually visiting loved ones at risk of infection in their homes, nursing homes or the hospital. Our state house and senate must return to Hartford to make these monumentally important decisions for our state's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. If we have to phone it in from our legislative offices with limited access to the floor so be it, but we must return to do this work asap.
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?
CT's children deserve to leave school job ready if they don't intend to pursue a college degree. Our vocational schools need to be supported to ensure their students are prepared to enter the workforce. Furthermore i believe we can make CT community colleges tuition free for CT residents, one example of how we can do this is by supplementing existing federal tax credits for working students. Increasing the vocational training opportunities at these community colleges can ensure students of all ages can have access to the education they need to succeed. Coordinating with unions and both the public and private sector we should create a pipeline to employment ensuring that in exchange for supporting our schools and committing to hiring graduates of these programs that the skills actually needed by these CT employers are being adequately taught setting up students and businesses alike for success and prosperity.
What is one specific policy you support to help protect African Americans as an at-risk group during the pandemic?
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?
How can Connecticut lower healthcare costs while also improving quality and access to care?
I believe every person in our state deserves equal access to quality affordable healthcare including mental health and addiction recovery services regardless of socio-economic or employment status. CT's employers in both the public and private sector are being squeezed from both sides as they struggle to provide both a respectable living wage and adequate healthcare. Those unemployed or underemployed are faced with exorbitant costs on the exchange. Even those employed with benefits or retired on medicaid often find their deductibles, co-pays and prescription drug costs unmanageable. We can immediately begin to control these costs by creating a mechanism for CT businesses and municipalities to pool thier buying power to negotiate better insurance rates. Ultimately, however I firmly believe in working toward a single payer system. Payroll deduction will cover the cost of this universal healthcare. This system will require doctors and hospitals to take patients and negotiated rates from the state plan just as they do now from medicaid and insurance companies alike. So long as employers pass along some of the savings (often upwards to around $40k per family) to employees who they no longer need to insure, the average worker shouldn't see a change in their take home pay. Businesses could of course still provide premium plans to employees if they so choose and if people want to pay out of pocket for premium services they would be so entitled. I do not misunderstand the challenge in building this system, but i believe it is a challenge we must undertake!