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Bob’s Economic Plan To Rebuild Connecticut

A Five-Step Plan endorsed by President Reagan’s Economic Advisor Dr. Arthur Laffer

 

Download the full plan here.

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Connecticut is in Economic Free Fall

 

Connecticut is in absolute crisis.

 

High Taxes – We have the highest tax burden in the nation. We in Connecticut have to work four weeks longer than the average American just to cover our tax bills! We need to work until May 21 – vs. April 23 on average (as reported by the Tax Foundation)

 

 

Out of Control Spending – Despite five tax increases since 1992, we have a growing, $3.5 billion budget deficit and a pension plan which is underfunded by $74 billion.

 

Job Losses – Since introducing a state income tax in 1991, we have had the slowest job growth in the entire nation – with 6,600 jobs lost in October 2017 alone.

 

Decline Population – More people are leaving Connecticut than any other state (except West Virginia). In the last 10 years, we have lost $6 billion in adjusted gross income from people moving to Florida alone!

 

A Dysfunctional Government – the current fiscal year budget was 117 days past due, and it included $881 million in “unidentified savings” and was already more than $200 million out of balance only a month after it was signed into law.

 

Connecticut Democrats have followed a policy of “Tax & Spend”.

 

Bob’s Five-Step Plan to Rebuild Connecticut

  1. Phase out corporate income tax and business entity tax over 2 years

  2. Phase out state income tax over 8 years

  3. Eliminate the gift and estate taxes immediately

  4. Embrace zero-based budgeting to reduce spending

  5. Enact a taxpayer bill of rights

 

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Step 1: Phase out corporate income tax and business entity tax over 2 years

  • Eliminating the Corporate and Business Use taxes, reducing regulatory interference will provide stimulus for companies to rediscover everything our state has to offer.
  • Our corporate tax raises less than 5.0% of the state’s total tax revenues, but Connecticut is uncompetitive with its neighbors and rivals. Repeal is an affordable and important way to carve a competitive niche relative to economic development marketing.
  • In recent months, the headquarters of GE, Alexion, and Aetna left. Bristol-Myers and Konica Minolta have also announced plans to depart.
  • Since 1991, we have seen the slowest job growth in the entire nation. We lost 6,600 jobs in October 2017 alone.
  • Our labor force participation continues to decline – only 66% of the adult population is working or looking for work – 1/3 are on the sidelines.

 

We need a bold statement – a bona fide competitive advantage – to get businesses to start here, expand here, and relocate to Connecticut – and quickly – so that the number of jobs, number of businesses, and labor force participation all start moving in the right direction again.

 

 

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Step 2: Phase out state income tax over 8 years

  • Introduce an across-the-board income tax cut over eight years tied to the attainment of revenue targets.
  • Our income tax destroys growth! For the 15 years preceding the Connecticut State Income Tax (1976 to 1991), our state economy grew faster than any other state. For the 25 years after the tax (1991-2016), our growth is 46th in the nation.
  • Since 1960 only 11 states have introduced a state income tax. In each of those 11 states, every economic metric is down – population, gross state product, and total tax revenues. Adding an income tax reduced gross tax revenues – in every instance!
  • A study by the Cato Institute showed that over 5 years: the 5 states that increased taxes the most had zero job growth and the 5 states that decreased taxes had the most job growth at 10.8%.

 

Massachusetts did it! They lowered the tax rate to 5.1% and since then, population, employment, personal income and tax revenues have all gone up!

 

 

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Step 3: Eliminate the gift and estate taxes immediately

  • The majority of states have already done away with both the gift and estate taxes as they drive residents to other tax-free states!
  • We are the only state with both an estate and a gift tax!
  • They raise only about 1 percent of the state’s total tax revenues each year – but cost so much more than that in the slowing of our economy.
  • These taxes are causing more people to leave Connecticut than any other state (except West Virginia).
  • An astounding $6 billion of adjusted gross income has left for Florida alone in the past 10 years.

 

 

We want our retirees to stay here! They create jobs, pay taxes, donate to charities, buy goods and services and sustain our state’s economy.

 

 

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Step 4: Embrace zero-based budgeting to reduce spending

  • Zero-based budgeting starts with a “blank piece of paper” not an already bloated budget with special interests and sacred cows baked in.
  • You add back in only the services absolutely needed while finding creative ways to do things cheaper.
  • Even with “fixed” costs like debt service and SEBAC, 20 to 25% of CT’s budget is “discretionary.”
  • With a two-year budget exceeding $40 billion, there are plenty of opportunities to identify savings and efficiencies.
  • Steps:
    • Review every department and agency for waste, fraud, and abuse
    • Reward, with whistleblower protection, employees with cost savings ideas.
    • Contract out public services to the private sector, starting with the DMV
    • Consider more public-private partnerships to share the cost of aging infrastructure
    • Reduce SEBAC – lower staff via attrition, defined contribution plan for non-vested employees, “revisit” overall contract extension.

 

 

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Step 5: Enact a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

  • Impose term limits for state legislators (5 terms/10 years) and the governor (2 terms/8 years).
  • Allow for a recall of state officials who are not living up to campaign promises, getting the job done or representing their constituents properly.
  • Impose a constitutional amendment to require a supermajority to enact any tax or fee increase.
  • Allow citizens the rights of referendum and recall.
  • Require more transparency around private interests receiving tax payer dollars.

 

Our constitution never intended for political office to be a “job for life.” We need better accountability around the actions of our representatives and a mechanism to force fresh thinking on how to solve problems.

 

 

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It Can Work

 

Lower corporate taxes will bring companies and jobs back to Connecticut.

 

Lower individual taxes will increase disposable income, resulting in more consumer demand and businesses will expand to meet that demand.

 

Eliminating the gift and the estate tax will stop the exodus of high tax paying residents to Florida and other low tax states.

 

Zero-based budgeting will force a fresh perspective on what costs are truly needed and what can be eliminated.

 

A Taxpayer Bill of Rights will ensure accountability around government officials to best represent their constituents or be removed from office.

 

 

 

If you agree with my plan, please consider donating to my campaign. We urgently need your help to take our state back from Dan Malloy and the liberal politicians in Hartford!

 

 

 


 

Plan to Help Small Businesses

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Connecticut used to be a beacon for business.  For nearly twenty years, from 1976 through 1992, our state had the highest rate of job creation in the entire country. But after that, job creation slowed and came to a halt due to the passage of a state income tax. 

 

We can lead the nation again in job growth, but only if we lower our taxes, and reduce our regulatory burden to make people and businesses WANT to move here.

 

Bob has formed an Economic Advisory Council of small and medium-sized business owners to ensure his plan will work to grow jobs in Connecticut.

Plan to Modernize Our Infrastructure

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In a recent US News study, only 14.6% of Connecticut residents said they were satisfied with the status of our infrastructure. Bob has been working with dozens of small business owners, private citizens and economic experts like Dr. Arthur Laffer to come up with a detailed plan on how to fix our economy as well as our crumbling roads and bridges. Some elements of this plan include:

 

 

Streamlining the approval process for major construction programs.

 

We need to ensure the integrity of our beautiful towns, rural areas and open spaces in Connecticut. But once decided, the administrative process for rebuilding and enhancing our roads, bridges, airports and tunnels needs to be faster. We need to cut the “red tape” that often delays critical infrastructure projects by 50% or more.

 

Spend money where it counts!

 

We need to cut the wasteful spending habits of Dan Malloy and the career politicians and reinvest money in our infrastructure to the benefit of everyone in this state. That is money that could re-directed to improve our crumbling infrastructure and benefit everyone in this state, rather than a select, few, privileged politicians.

 

Encourage Connecticut financial institutions to be part of the solution

 

We should encourage our local banks to consider financing more economic development in our state. Various programs such as the Community Investment Act and low-cost loans from the Federal Small Business Loan Program could provide an incentive for Connecticut based banks to support projects to improve our infrastructure. It will allow them to increase their business activity, create more local jobs for construction projects and improve the quality of life for all residents.

 

Investigate using public-private partnerships to help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

 

In a PPP, a government agency contracts with the private sector to rebuild an airport, transportation system or other critical assets. The private sector partner brings the technology, expertise and actual experience running a business that our career politicians desperately lack. The private partner funds part of the cost of construction, allowing us to improve the state’s transportation system without adding to our already massive budget deficit.

 

Other states have used this model to improve the quality of their infrastructure – faster, cheaper and better than the state government has any chance of doing. With the proper supervision and a business person experienced in negotiating these partnerships, PPP’s can be a very efficient way to rebuild our state. Bob has successfully worked on a wide variety of projects around the world and can bring that expertise to the governor’s office.

 

It will take all the tools at our disposal to repair years and years of neglect to our roads and bridges. But we have many assets to draw on and with the proper leadership, we can begin the process of rebuilding our state now!

 

Plan to Keep Retirees

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Connecticut’s onerous income, sales, gift, and inheritance taxes are driving retirees out of our state at alarming rates. In fact, in the 2015 tax year, Connecticut lost more adjusted gross income from residents deciding to leave than any other state in the country except one.

 

We lost $1.3 billion in reported adjusted gross income in Connecticut for 2015 alone!

 

Connecticut is the ONLY state in the country to have BOTH a gift and estate tax.

 

Under Bob’s leadership, the “death tax” will be removed day one, stemming the outflows of people, jobs and tax revenues from our state.

 

We will reduce the burden of Connecticut’s state income tax over time making it easier for our retirees to afford to stay in the state they love with their family and friends.

 

As the articles below show, Connecticut retirees are feeling the pain.

We need to provide a better economic environment for all of our residents:

 

Plan to Retain Our Graduates

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Even with Connecticut graduates topping the national charts of the highest-earning graduates, our state is still facing a crisis with most graduates moving away (Source:”5 Connecticut Census Numbers That Should Scare Your Socks Off” – Hartford Courant). We are losing jobs and losing our well educated young adults to other states and nearby cities like Boston and New York.

 

The business climate in Connecticut is not attractive for young workers. Bob wants to build businesses, grow our economy, and bring in new workers. Starting with a welcoming business climate, he wants to bring innovative and startup jobs to Connecticut.

 

Keeping more of our graduates will help ensure a bright future for Connecticut.

 

 

Fiscal Framework

 

Connecticut currently has the 2nd highest tax burden per capita in America. As taxes have risen, residents have fled our state and growth has slowed to a halt. I am committed to reversing this trend by eliminating the individual income tax over time, using trigger mechanisms that rely on economic growth and reduced spending to ensure we cut taxes as we can afford to. As our fiscal position improves, taxes will decrease — putting more money in your pocket. This will be a multi-year effort that will gradually and responsibly reduce the income tax rate.

 

As governor, I will also declare a “Fiscal State of Emergency” and work with the legislature and all key stakeholders, including business, labor and non-profit leaders, to restore fiscal sustainability. That will include taking action in connection with the following the 5 R’s listed below.

 

  1. Right-size – Connecticut has too many government entities, too many layers of management, too many outdated practices, and too much outdated technology.  State government also engages in many activities that can be performed in a more economical, efficient, and effective manner by non-profits and the private sector.

2.Reprioritize – We must build a budget from the ground up. “Mandatory” spending continues to grow and now consumes more than half of the budget. While we need to keep promises made to retirees, we also need to focus on investing in Connecticut’s future. I will adopt zero and performance based budgeting practices to help improve performance, reduce costs, and reprioritize state spending.  

3.Restructure – We must reduce the $100 billion in debt and unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. We can restructure current pension and healthcare plans in a fair, equitable and sustainable manner. Our current retirement plans are “at risk” and are very poorly funded due to years of abuse by career politicians and labor leaders. My objective will be to ensure that our retirement plans are competitive and affordable while ensuring that, after the needed restructuring, we will deliver on what we promise.

  1. Reform  – Our current welfare programs are subject to significant fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. We must modernize our welfare systems while maintaining a solid social safety net for those truly in need. We need to more vigorously pursue federal funding options to make sure that CT obtains its fair share. We also need to develop clearly defined, consistently applied, and transparent criteria for providing fair and reliable educational assistance to municipalities.
  2. Revitalize – At least four of our largest cities face serious financial and competitiveness challenges. A strong Connecticut economy requires attractive cities that address the socio economic and racial barriers facing our state today. As Governor, I will pursue federal opportunity zones and alternative ways for cities to restructure their finances and reduce their property tax burdens.

By taking the above steps we can save billions in the annual budget and reduce unfunded retirement obligations. This election is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change Connecticut’s steady and bad habit of taxing and spending its way into economic instability.

 

In summary, I will cut taxes and put the state’s finances in order while my opponent will raise taxes and not solve the state’s serious financial challenge.

 

Affordability

Did you know? Connecticut’s personal income grew at the slowest pace among Neighboring States in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Us Bureau of Economic Analysis; WSJ: The Regressive State of America

 

Connecticut’s High Cost of Living

Connecticut residents and businesses face a variety of taxes, fees, surcharges and regulatory costs that have attributed to Connecticut’s high cost of living. According to a recent Yankee Institute study, Connecticut has over 350 taxes and fees to pad the state budgets ballooning expenditures. To make matters worse, since 2011, Governor Malloy has asked our residents to make “shared sacrifices” and as a result of his tax and spend policies residents are paying more today than before he took office. Connecticut has the highest tax burden as a percentage of an individual’s income of any other state. (1)

 

Compared to the other 50 states, Connecticut currently ranks 49th for Fiscal Health. Connecticut taxpayers’ share of the state’s debt is $53,400. (2) Connecticut is in serious trouble, but it’s not too late to create a better future. 

 

Phasing out the Income Tax

Connecticut taxpayers desperately need tax relief. This conclusion was backed by a nonpartisan commission that was tasked at coming up with solutions to fix the state’s dire economic situation. Part of the Commission’s recommendations included reductions in the income tax. My proposal brings much needed relief to taxpayers by phasing out the state income tax and spending reductions over eight years starting in the second biennium. The gradual reduction is conditioned on revenue triggers to ensure that the path forward is achievable and sound.  The cuts would be balanced with achievements in efficiencies and revenues from economic growth.

 

Eliminating the Death Tax

Connecticut has lost $3.83 billion in taxable income to states without estate taxes. Eliminating the death tax will prevent our families and communities from being torn apart by our seniors moving away. The Hartford Courant has endorsed this idea, recognizing the unfairness and hostility toward taxpayers. (3)

 

Developing a Long-term Strategic Energy Utility Plan

Connecticut has some of the highest energy costs in the nation. Electric rates for both residential and commercial are in the top 5 for high costs (4).  It is important that we develop an energy plan that protects ratepayers:

  • When the federal corporate tax on utilities was reduced in 2018, it saved utility customers millions of dollars phasing out the corporate tax. The corporate tax is hidden in the rates that utilities pass on to ratepayers. Phasing out the corporate tax will provide immediate savings to ratepayers since utilities are strictly regulated and can only charge their actual costs.
  • Connecticut ranks at the bottom in economic efficiency of state energy regulations (5).  These inefficiencies in our regulations attribute to high costs and we need to eliminate such regulations.
  • There needs to be a thorough investigation of the state’s high energy costs and find sustainable long term solutions

 

Economic Recovery/Competitiveness

 

Did you know? Connecticut lagged behind neighboring states in economic growth and ranks lasts in most measures of competitiveness.

 

Did you know? Connecticut has recovered only 86% of the jobs lost in the recession vs. 227% recovered nationally and unemployment in the state still remains at 2007 levels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source (7)

 

Source (8)

Connecticut is one of the least competitive states, and our economy shows it. While most states are making a comeback, the failed tax policies and high cost of living has prevented Connecticut from attracting businesses and people from moving in. Since the increased taxes of the Malloy administration, there has been a migration of more than 34,000 people moving out-of-state (9). These individuals took with them more than $6 billion in income that the state can no longer generate revenue from or philanthropy money that charities and non profits had depended on. (10)

 

Our state must prioritize its goals and it should start with rebuilding our economy and bringing good paying jobs back to the state. The path includes:

  • Reviewing all government regulations and eliminate those that are outdated or hinder economic growth. The Mercatus Center estimates that Connecticut has over 96,247 regulatory restrictions. (11)
  • Fixing our deteriorated infrastructure to support the movement of workers and goods
  • Phasing out the corporate tax to provide an economic advantage for businesses to grow in-state
  • Centralizing and simplifying the state-permitting process that is currently burdensome for businesses and developers.
  • Increasing Vo-Tech school investments to fill Connecticut’s manufacturing needs where demand for jobs outweigh supply. (12)
  • Develop an active partnership between small and medium sized businesses, schools, and government entities to help prepare and deliver a workforce needed to fill high demand jobs.

[1] http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/2018/02/connecticut-tax-burden-2nd-highest-in-the-nation-according-to-new-report/

[2] https://www.truthinaccounting.org/library/doclib/2017-FSOS-Booklet-.pdf

[3] http://www.courant.com/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-ct-estate-tax-too-high-20170307-story.html

[4] https://howmuch.net/articles/electricity-rates-by-state

[5] https://www.pacificresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/50States_ExecSumm8pg_Finalwebl.pdf

[6] https://www.cbia.com/news/economy/july-jobs-report-2018/

[7] https://www.cga.ct.gov/fin/tfs/20171205_Commission%20on%20Fiscal%20Stability%20and%20Economic%20Growth/20180301/Draft%20Report.pdf

[8] https://www.cga.ct.gov/fin/tfs/20171205_Commission%20on%20Fiscal%20Stability%20and%20Economic%20Growth/20180301/Draft%20Report.pdf

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] https://www.mercatus.org/publications/snapshot-connecticut-regulation-2017

[12] http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/20180901/demand-for-manufacturing-jobs-in-eastern-connecticut-outweighs-supply

Government Accountability

Correcting a Dysfunctional Budget Process

 

Connecticut’s budget process is outdated, inefficient and ineffective in addressing and evaluating state programs. Most of the state programs have no specific goals and are not tied to any performance measures. Therefore, funding for the programs is provided with no real expectations of what that spending will achieve.

It is paramount that state correct the haphazard spending pattern by starting with a blank sheet of paper and building the budget upward to functional programs designed to achieve specific and measurable outcomes. To do this I will:

  • Adopt zero-based budgeting that requires all agencies to start their budget from scratch
  • Thoroughly review the management and employee structure of all agencies
  • Clearly define the missions, priorities and objectives of all agencies
  • Establish outcome-based goals for each state program and develop performance measures to evaluate the effectiveness of their stated purpose
  • Work to have the state budget adoption coincide with local budgets so cities and towns can properly set local budgets.

Having such information will be crucial for developing responsible budgets

Restoring Power to the Citizens

It’s time that resident receive assurances that the state will function in the best interest of the people and not career politicians. I will advocate for

  • Citizen’s Bill of Rights that allows initiative by referendum and a right to recall
  • Term limits for elected officials
  • Have elected officials lead by example and convert their benefits to 401k plans
  • Commissioner’s to be accountable for the performance of their agencies
  • Using customer feedback to partly measure agency performance

Transportation

The inefficient and ineffective use of available state and federal funding has cost Connecticut tens of thousands of jobs and economic activity.

 

Source: 2017 American Society of Civil Engineers Connecticut Infrastructure Report Card (1)

 


Source: Preserving Connecticut’s Bridges: The Condition and Funding Needs of Connecticut’s Aging Bridge System. (2)


Connecticut’s Transportation Infrastructure is one of the costliest in the nation, yet the Department of Transportation has a dismal record to show for its high costs. Construction costs for transportation projects in Connecticut run $497,659 per mile compared to $178,116 nationally
[3].


According to TRIP, Nearly four of every five miles of Connecticut’s major roads are in either poor or mediocre condition.
[4] A significant number of Connecticut’s bridges have surpassed or are approaching 50 years old — some bridges are more than 100 years old. In fact, 59 percent of the state’s bridges are 50 years or older. The average age of all Connecticut’s bridges is 53 years, while the average age of the state’s more than 300 structurally deficient bridges is 69 years[5] These deficient roads and bridges cost Connecticut motorists a total of $6.1 billion annually in the form of additional vehicle operating costs, delays, and accidents[6].

About 400 transportation projects are on hold either because they are not a priority or because funding is short.[7]

The Bridgeport-Stamford area is the second-most congested area of its size in the nation, forcing motorists on average to spend 49 hours in traffic each year. Hartford area ranked 5th nationally for congestion among medium sized cities[8]. Annually, $489 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Connecticut mostly by truck[9].


The governor and the legislature have done a poor job of making transportation a priority in past budgets. Since 2011, the legislature diverted over $600 million from transportation purposes towards general fund purposes to fill other legislative prerogatives.


If Connecticut’s economy is going to grow, we need a modern and efficient transportation system to support it.

 

Strategically Prioritize the State’s Transportation Needs:

Connecticut’s Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to thoroughly review its infrastructure plans in a strategic way to ensure that our drivers are on safe roads and bridges, state’s workforce  and employers can get connected, and that goods and services get delivered in a timely manner.

 

Establish Performance Reports

DOT projects should be required to have performance reports to ensure that they are built in a timely manner and in an efficient manner.

 

Prioritize Funding

The state spends hundreds of millions of dollars bonding projects that are either not a priority or are many years out from completion. It is vital that we focus on shifting those resources where they can be used immediately. Doing so can fund our transportation needs for the next 30 years.

Under my plan, the transportation plan requires:

  • No unfair tolls that overwhelmingly would be paid for by CT commuters
  • No unfair tolls on our trucking industry that already pays taxes to CT for passing through the state

Modernizing Transportation Programs

One of the troubled state agencies that needs to be looked at carefully is the Department of Motor Vehicles. This agency receives over $65 million a year from transportation funds for its operations. However the agency has been plagued with computer software issues[10], employee fraud[11], erroneous motor vehicle tax information[12] and wait times that average 1 hour[13].

 

My plan for the troubled Department of Motor Vehicles is for the private sector to provide these services at a more efficient and effective delivery model. This will allow the state to save money and provide people with better and more responsive customer service.

 

There is also great potential to utilize private partners to perform new infrastructure programs where a provider pays for the design and the construction for a right to operate it. Through careful contract agreements, such partners can help expand Connecticut’s infrastructure needs in a timely and efficient manner.

 

The operating expenses for the DOT, DMV, and DEEP are paid out of the Special Transportation Fund (STF). The General Assembly has ignored the deficits in the STF by transferring funds from the General Fund to the STF every year. More and more funds have been diverted into the STF.

 

1. Streamline Transportation Projects by putting certain on hold, while completing priority projects immediately.

-Projects such as widening I-95 from Greenwich to Rhode Island might not be in the cards, but certain sections of 95 can be widened, ramps can be improved, and merge lanes can be made to improve traffic flow. Other projects and existing state infrastructure need to be reimagined

2. Support transportation spending and financing habits that focus on diversifying the transportation of GOODS in order to provide for reduced costs in transporting PEOPLE.

-End raiding the Special Transportation Fund. The governor should ensure that dollars reserved for transportation remain reserved for transportation.

-Using Federal Funding and Financing programs more effectively for projects.

-Public-Private Partnership.

3. Capitalize and Diversify Existing Assets To Reduce Traffic

-Increased use of Freight Rail: Connecticut has miles of underutilized rail lines that should be attractive to mid-sized and large manufacturers and distributors.

-Increased use of Maritime Transportation: Long Island Sound and the state’s larger ports provide a large maritime highway for goods.

-Increased use of AirFreight: With a runway extension in New Haven, air freight traffic could be balanced between Tweed and Bradley airports.

Sources


Health and Human Services

Protecting our seniors, disabled and children is a vital role of government. Unfortunately Connecticut has seen a trend of cutting services that are actually needed and ignoring problems that could save hundreds of millions.

 

Under Governor Malloy, important services that working families depended on were drastically cut in his budget. He cut funding to, mental health, substance abuse, elderly nutrition, and developmental services. Meanwhile, he increased funding to enhance meals for prisoners.

 

Telehealth: Using technology to care for loved ones

To bring savings to our Medicaid program, I would establish coverage for telehealth services, which improves a patient’s health by allowing minute by minute communication between the patient and their doctor. The use of such services have been shown to produce significant reductions in emergency visits and medicaid costs while still allowing seniors and the disabled to live in a community setting[14].

 

Private Providers: Partnership for Better Results

Private providers serve as the backbone to many of our health and social service programs. They know the communities, the needs of those they serve, and have a passion for the work they do. Just for the human services providers alone, a savings of $1.3 billion can be achieved over three years with no reduction in quality or benefit of services[15].

 

Accountability: Preserving Programs for the Vulnerable

Unfortunately, with any social service program for which benefits are significant, there is a potential for fraud and abuse. The US Government Accountability Office estimates that in FY 17, $36 billion in payments were improperly made. Waste in our social service programs take away valuable resources from those who need it. It is vital that the state better examine our programs to ensure that unscrupulous people, whether is providers who overbill, or individuals who misreport income, don’t abuse our generous benefits. This requires a full review of all our programs, examine other states investigative and enforcement measures and legal action against those who purposely defraud our taxpayers

 

Careplan Choice:

Connecticut only has six insurance carriers in the market today. About 66 percent of our residents’ health coverage  comes from self-insured plans usually through their employers and the remainder are fully insured plans purchased through the exchange. Part of the reason insurance costs are high are due to our high taxes on medical providers and hospitals that push costs up, low medicaid reimbursements that shift the burden to private coverage, insurance mandates, and general trends and high utilization rates.

There need to be more carriers in the insurance market. I will appoint a well-respected regulator as insurance commissioner who understands the insurance market and its complexities: residents deserve a subject matter expert on these issues.

I will task the commissioner with exploring the benefits of a 1332 waiver and encourage the use of value-based insurance designs that allow insurers to mitigate risks and reduce premiums  

Connecticut also needs a true mandate review process that looks at the effects of the mandates and comes back to the legislature with a full impact review/statements. Mandates have unintended consequences.

 

Drug Prices

My administration will work with the federal government to combat high drug prices in the state of Connecticut. High drug prices and a system that rewards list price increases, are burdening our residents. Senior citizens pay more in Medicare Part B and Part D because laws prevent health plans and vendors from engaging in tough negotiations.

 

Tackling Future Issues

It is important the government is forward thinking in its approach to healthcare. CT has an aging population and one issue that has not been discussed much but will be a major cost to the state is Alzheimer’s. It is estimated that the number of people over the age of 65 affected by Alzheimer’s  will increase 21.3% by 2025 to about 91,000[16]. That may increase Medicaid costs by as much as 30.8%. Alzheimer’s has a devastating effect on families and caregivers who go towards extraordinary efforts to provide care for those suffering from the disease. It is vital that we partner with the medical community, private providers, and the Department of Social Services to properly plan for the proper care needed to address this issue.

 

Sources

[16] http://act.alz.org/site/DocServer/2017_statesheet_connecticut.pdf

Public Safety

One of the key functions of government is to ensure the safety and peace of its residents.

 

Law Enforcement: Protecting those that protect us

In the course of their jobs, law enforcement officers often respond to scenes that can be mentally traumatizing. However, many officers fear seeking mental health services because they fear that they will be unable to return back to their job. Our law enforcement should not be subjected to this kind of fear and should be able to seek mental health services  knowing that their jobs are protected.

 

Protecting our Citizens: Eliminate the Early-Release Program

One of Governor Malloy’s failed policies includes the early-release program that reduces the time offenders serve in jail. This program even allows violent offenders to get months shaved off their sentence. There are countless articles about offenders who were released under this program only to commit more heinous crimes. It’s time violent offenders serve their full sentence.

 

Fix the Backlog on Background Checks

It is important that background checks on licensed daycare providers, health care professionals, bus drivers, and other critical jobs, get done in a timely manner. It is unfair to the businesses or the prospective employees to wait months for such background checks to be performed.

 

Deploying  Well Trained Firefighters

In CT, there are about 30,000 firefighters and about 70% of them are volunteer firefighters.  Volunteer firefighters depend on Regional Fire Schools to provide the extensive training needed to prepare them for the real call. Regional Fire Schools serve a vital purpose for our communities and funding must be preserved.  

 

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

In 2017, CT had experienced over 1,000 deaths resulting from opioid use. Nationally, opioid deaths had risen 7% and there seems to be no slowing down[17].  Yet Governor Malloy  proposed cutting  substance abuse grants by more than $1.4 million and Mental Health Service Grants by $3.2 million at a time the state was facing a drug epidemic. It is important that the future governor preserve funding for these programs so help remains available.

It is also important that we provide a punishment commensurate with the crime for those who deal opioids. There should be no plea bargains allowed and the prison term for selling these drugs should not be less than 15 years.

 

Sources

[17] https://fox43.com/2018/08/16/us-drug-overdose-deaths-rose-7-in-2017-and-doubled-over-a-decade-cdc-reports/

Educating Connecticut’s Next Generation Workforce

There is a $689 million gap in estimated school construction costs

(American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 Report Card)

-Connecticut is AVERAGE when compared to national scoring for education, yet the average per pupil expenditure is nearly TWICE the national average.

(The Nation’s Report Card)

-Only 17 of the state’s 229 high schools are technical high schools

Almost every manufacturer of the 157 CBIA surveyed in Connecticut expects to grow their workforce in the next three years. Of those companies that provide employee training, onsite training is most common (95%). Less frequent is classroom training outside of work hours (54%) or during work hours (47%). Manufacturers are slightly more likely to offer online training outside of work hours (35%) than during work hours (32%). (CBIA 2017 Report Card of Connecticut Manufacturing Workforce Needs)


Connecticut needs a 21st century workforce in order to be ready for a 21st century economy. We must change the way we approach workforce development. The next generation of software, life sciences, additive manufacturing, and technology-enabled businesses require workers with new skills. Eliminating the income tax will help attract and retain innovators who are currently leaving for low tax states. However, these job creators will only stay and grow in Connecticut if we have a well prepared workforce. Listed below are labor force reforms that a Stefanowski Administration will enact to make our children more competitive — both here in Connecticut and abroad.


K-12

-We must ensure that all parents have the ability to choose K-12 education options that best fit their child.

-We must ensure that Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding continue to exists for Connecticut cities and towns.

-Create evening courses in state trade schools for older members of the workforce to retrain or discover new schools.

-Streamline regulations on existing accreditation and certification programs for technical and vocational training providers and their instructors

-Open computer programming and information technology programs in vocational school systems.

 wider breadth of course offerings through online classes.

-Encourage school systems to partner up and share resources where possible in order to reduce costs and provide equal opportunities for all students.

-Partner with the state’s mid-sized manufacturers to provide the skills needed in a more efficient and timely fashion

-Evaluate all schools in Connecticut to ensure they are achieving goals in an efficient manner.

-Work with school systems to create an improvement model which helps individual schools close the achievement gap.


Higher Education

-We need to offer students better ways to finance their college tuition. Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has pioneered the use of Income Share Agreements (ISAs) at Purdue University as a means to help students finance college without taking on excessive debt. Income Share Agreements are different from loans because students do not have to start paying them back until they get a paying job. These agreements align colleges around the goal of securing jobs for their students. We will work to ensure that all state-run colleges and private universities offer students the option to finance a portion of their tuition with ISAs.

-The state of Florida instituted statewide career and technical education articulation agreements that provide students and employers with a set of standards and agreements to achieve industry certification. The policy mandates that the agreements are a minimum guarantee and allow institutions to offer more credit based on local agreements in order to customize solutions to fit needs.

Controlling State Costs

Prioritizing State Borrowing

Connecticut has over $36.9 billion in borrowed debt, the second highest debt of any state[18]. The state has put that burden on every resident in the amount of $10,310. The annual minimum payment to pay of this debt costs $2.9 billion and represents 13% of the overall budget. Rating agencies have already downgraded Connecticut’s bond ratings leading to higher interest costs for the state for future borrowing.

It is imperative that the governor holds the line on not borrowing any more.

 

Addressing Unfunded Liabilities

Connecticut has over $77 billion of liabilities that the state is unable to properly pay for and if taking into consideration the poor investment returns, those unfunded liabilities may be as high as $120 billion[19]. It is imperative that the state corrects the failed policies of the Malloy administration and tackles these issues or risk retirement benefits for teachers and state employees going bankrupt.

 

Holding Cities and Towns Accountable for Mismanagement 

Municipal leaders need to be held accountable for financial mismanagement. While state assistance may be acceptable to help restructure their finances, it is unacceptable for Governor Malloy to pay of the City of Hartford’s entire debt in the amount of $534 million in contrast to the intended $40 million plan the legislature intended. I support helping municipalities find solutions to their financial problems so they can become vibrant and grow, but the deal that Hartford received is not in the best interest of taxpayers.

 

Sources

[18] http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/2018/08/connecticut-has-second-highest-bonded-debt-per-capita-in-the-country/

[19] http://www.yankeeinstitute.org/2018/05/connecticut-labeled-untruthful-for-hiding-10-billion-in-retiree-healthcare-costs/

Protecting Municipalities

For too long, politicians in Hartford have made decisions about municipalities without understanding each region’s own preferences, challenges and opportunities. Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns are distinct in their needs: the shoreline town of Stonington’s needs are different than that of the hilly town of Salisbury. My administration will give more power back to successful municipalities to make their own decisions.

 

Businesses on Main Street should be able to work with municipal officials instead of a bureaucratic state government when making decisions. Teachers in classrooms shouldn’t be forced to teach to the test in order to meet arbitrary standards set for other school systems. Seniors should have needed rides and other resources that fit the town they live in.

 

In the case of underperforming municipalities, we need to use existing state infrastructure such as the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) to right the ship BEFORE cities and towns become insolvent. MARB is an 11-person board that was created by the state legislature in 2017. It’s charged with providing fiscal oversight, advice, requirements, and aid to eligible distressed municipalities. The financial burdens of Hartford and West Haven may just be the tip of the iceberg, and my administration will use the constitutional powers of the Governor to help set standards for cities whose Mill Rates are too high and whose finances are not in order. Sixty-one Connecticut towns and cities, home to 2.1 million people, were found to have elevated credit risk in an analysis performed for the Yankee Institute.

 

Rightsizing state government begins with giving more power and control to responsible local leadership. Through the years, politicians in Hartford have centralized more and more decision-making and permitting processes. We need to give more power back to communities that prove they are capable of fiscal responsibility, while making sure communities that do not follow prudent policies are steered in a better direction

Veterans

There are nearly 200,000 Connecticut Veterans[20] — my administration will make sure that those Connecticut residents who have served our country in uniform and their families are given the best treatment here at home in the Constitution State.

 

Healthcare

This includes working with federal partners to expand access to private healthcare through programs such as the VA Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek healthcare outside the VA hospital system in underserved areas. In rural areas, this program saves hours in commute times for basic medical services and an extra tank of gas that could be spent on groceries instead. As today’s veterans continue to struggle with PTSD and other mental health issues, we owe it to them to create access to healthcare that is as stress and hassle free as possible.

 

Employment

Veterans have skills that are needed in both the private sector and in government. Partnering with businesses and state agencies, a Stefanowski administration will make sure that Connecticut’s brightest military leaders become our brightest CEO’s, job creators, and inventors. Further, my administration will work with the private sector to not only encourage the hiring of veterans — but also their spouses — who are often discriminated against in the job market due to multiple moves and gaps in employment.

 

Education

My administration remains committed to providing reasonably affordable technical and college education for members of the armed forces. With degrees from Connecticut educational institutions, our Veterans will continue to succeed — further building communities we can be proud to call home.

 

Sources

[20] https://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Blumenthal-VA-nominee-find-common-ground-12848771.php

Preserving Connecticut’s Natural Beauty

Connecticut’s natural beauty and diverse geography is one of our state’s unique characteristics. From miles of coastline, to numerous lakes, endless hiking trails, and more — Connecticut’s landscape offers a little bit of everything. Public lands, beaches and parks are a great source of pride for our residents and I plan to keep it that way. Under the Malloy Administration, several properties owned by the state were sold off or leased — without the knowledge and consent of the public. I support the ballot initiative that you will see in November which would block the state from selling land without public knowledge. These lands are ours to share, not the state’s to raid.

 

In 2017, roughly $150 million was diverted from energy efficiency programs to fill gaps in the budget. Lawmakers transferred ratepayer dollars from the Energy Conservation and Load Management funds to the General Fund. A bill from the past legislative session would have blocked this type of action — which has been done across state government. Our environment must be protected, and lawmakers should not be using dollars reserved for environmental purposes to make up for budget shortfalls.

 

Our state parks are a great tourism asset and give visitors a reason to visit Connecticut. From hiking, to swimming, fishing, to cross-country skiing, and everything in between these parks offer the opportunity to leverage our assets and provide opportunities for small businesses to thrive. We can balance environmental sustainability and economic growth by working hand-in-hand with private partners and making sure that environmental regulations exist that make sense and not just a few extra cents.

Growing Connecticut’s Farm Economy

Agriculture has been a key part of Connecticut’s past and must continue to remain an important part of our state’s economy. There are more than 6,000 farms in Connecticut which contribute $4 billion to the state’s economy. As governor, I will support our farms and the thousands of jobs they create across the state. Over the past several months I’ve visited farms around Connecticut and have seen the challenges they face.

 

Below are my priorities to help out the state’s agricultural economy:

  • A reduction in the income tax will help attract labor to Connecticut’s farms and grow the state’s small farms.
  • I will support a stand-alone, cabinet-level Department of Agriculture.
  • I will support the continuation and funding of the Community Investment Act and the programs that it funds to support Connecticut’s farms – We do not need legislators raiding funds during tight budgets.
  • I will oppose changes to PA 63-490 that would decrease access to farmland for farmers.
  • I will continue to support the state’s Farmland Preservation Program which has protected over 40,000 acres across the state.
  • I will work to ensure that small farmers and first generation farmers have access to community banks and fair loan rates.