Revise the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Formula – Connecticut disburses $2 billion in school aid annually. Of this total, 38% of educational funding grants go to five towns (Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury, and New Britain). As the second largest city in Connecticut, last year 32 towns received more state aid than Stamford. The result for Stamford middle class: higher property taxes, as our tax dollars flow elsewhere.
Lottery Revenue – Last year only 24% of Connecticut Lottery revenue went towards education. A much larger percentage (32%) went into the General Fund for state expenditures, half of which went to state employee benefits.
I will oppose any budget that continually shortchanges Stamford’s public schools. Last year, Bridgeport received $185 million for their public schools while Stamford received a much lower $12 million. I would push to have the ECS formula changed, with an emphasis on student population, and not wealth of a particular town. I would also demand a cap on the maximum aid a town can receive annually, so that Stamford taxpayers are not funding 50% of Bridgeport’s annual budget.
Middle Class Tax Relief
Return Sales Tax Revenue to Towns – In 2011, when the legislature voted to increase the sales tax rate from 6% to 6.35%, it was agreed that a portion of sales tax revenue would return to the town where the tax had originated. Yet this promise has never been kept.
Oppose a State Property Tax – Current pending legislations seeks to impose a Millionaire’s tax. Unfortunately, this is a misnomer. In fact, this proposed tax would impact any homeowner whose home value is over $400,000. In the 145thDistrict this would impact 85% of homeowners. The proposed legislation seeks to impose a new tax, collected annually by the state, and redistribute revenue back to towns such as Bridgeport and New Haven, hometown of the bill’s sponsor. This legislation hurts middle class families and seniors especially. Most of the revenue raised returns to fiscally mismanaged towns, while Stamford is unlikely to receive any of the revenue paid by its own taxpayers.
Demand the legislature fulfill its promise of returning a portion of sales tax revenue back to towns and to the town where the tax was paid from. Stamford would benefit greatly, especially since we are ranked at the top in sales tax revenue collected. Towns would have an incentive to assist small businesses into creating new jobs in their community, while reaping the benefits of an additional revenue stream.
Connecticut offers limited tax relief for seniors and disabled individuals. I will propose allowing qualified individuals on fixed incomes to qualify for a 10% tax assessment reduction, thereby reducing an assessment down from 70% to 60%. This tax relief would save seniors and those with disabilities thousands annually in additional property tax.
Broken Sidewalks and Poor Roads – In many parts of our district local roads are in disrepair, sidewalks are dangerous for children to walk, and residents demands for emergency repair have gone ignored.
In the legislature I will make sure that Stamford receives adequate funds to address infrastructure concerns, which include deficient aging bridges. Funding for these projects do exist, yet they are being sent to other towns.
Remove Job Growth Barriers – Connecticut’s job growth has not kept pace with population growth, resulting in fewer residents attaining full employment. This not only has negative consequences to our economy, but has resulted in flight from our state, as our population has steadily declined during the past seven years. Many of those fleeing are middle class families unable to afford the high increases in cost of living, while job growth remains largely stagnant.
Establish a Regional Loan Program – While the more economically depressed regions of the state have such loan access available, Stamford small businesses are not afforded equal access to these loan programs. Job growth in our state should be the goal, regardless of where the job is created. Rather than allocate these loan programs solely to economically depressed areas of the state, where other issues, such as crime, quality of life, and educational attainment are more prominent, the state must look at our economy as a whole in supporting small businesses.
Small Business Health Insurance – Many of our small business owners are only able to purchase health insurance through Access Health. These plans come with high premiums, high deductibles, and limited coverage.
Remove barriers, many imposed locally, that discourage employers from investing in Connecticut. The regulations, many of which are paperwork related, hinder start up businesses seeking to create jobs. One such erroneous example is a requirement that new businesses submit floor plans of the new establishment, even when the same space was previously utilized for the same purpose. This forces a small business seeking to establish themselves, to spend thousands of dollars and wait months prior to attaining licenses. The process requires streamlining so that job growth is encouraged, rather than deterred.
Create a regional loan program for small businesses in Stamford, including start up businesses. Access to immediate capital will encourage small businesses to retain or even increase employment levels, while also growing as a business. The more jobs created helps reduce our unemployment rate, while also providing individuals seeking employment the jobs they need to live and prosper in our community.
Allow small businesses, including family-owned businesses, to purchase insurance at group rate discounts, with lower deductibles, better coverage, and in some instances lower premiums. Many small business owners decide to forego health insurance due to the high costs and inadequate coverage that the exchange plans currently provide.
A rapid rise in prescription drug prices is forcing individuals to spend more of their monthly income on the purchase of prescription drugs.
Health insurers are regulated on the state level and Connecticut must address the limited coverage these plans provide. I support a bill pending in the legislature, which seeks to reduce the costs of prescription drugs by imposing a monthly cap on insurers, while also allowing for the re-importation of drugs from Canada. House Bill 5366 seeks to correct an issue that the federal government has failed to address. Re-importation, while requiring a federal waiver, will reduce the cost that consumers currently pay for prescription drugs. A price cap on insurers means that individuals and families will spend a maximum out of pocket monthly.
Rebuilding Connecticut Together
My plan fixes the problems that hurt us economically, while also making our state attractive for economic growth. My opponent has a plan that would accelerate our debt spending and reduce our credit rating, thereby raising the cost to borrow. His redistribution of wealth plan would force higher taxes on middle class families and a continual exodus of families fleeing Connecticut.
Paid for by JD Ospina for State Representative. Maxwell Hawkins, Treasurer. JD Ospina approves this message.