Budget solution: Change the way Connecticut provides services

Let’s start with the harsh reality: beginning the new fiscal year without a state budget will result in human services agencies across Connecticut cutting services and closing doors. Yet since January, leaders of community nonprofits have offered a way to save $300 million over the biennium while re-investing that savings to people in need, by shifting more services from more expensive state government agencies into the nonprofit sector.

Legislators should enact the Passport to Parks initiative — Connecticut needs it!

As the Malloy administration and state legislators negotiate a new FY18-FY19 biennial budget, many residents will directly be affected by the cuts made to public programs they depend on. There is, however, one decision that can still be made that would not increase the deficit, and be greatly appreciated by Connecticut residents—enactment of the bipartisan Passport to Parks.

Will our children become casualties in the state budget battle?

Any family enduring a budget crisis is faced with a difficult task — prioritizing where to cut back on expenses. They must decide which expenses are unnecessary, which can safely be postponed, and finally, which are absolutely essential. Ultimately, the new sofa will be cancelled and replacing the tires on the family car will be delayed. These sacrifices will be made for one reason: to ensure money is available to pay for what is essential, such as food, rent, or life-saving medications for their children. The governor and state legislature of Connecticut currently face a similar task.

Connecticut nearer the presumption of innocence, but not there yet

On June 6, the Connecticut State Legislature passed H.B. No. 7044, “An Act Concerning Pretrial Justice Reform,” which will limit the number of legally innocent people who are held in jail because they cannot pay bail. By prohibiting money bail in most misdemeanor cases, this bill will save lives. Hundreds of defendants who would have otherwise been incarcerated due to poverty alone can now defend themselves from a position of freedom without pleading guilty just to get out of jail. This is a critical step towards restoring the presumption of innocence in our court system.

State lawmakers should prioritize job-creating legislation in final hours

Connecticut is at risk of losing an opportunity to boost the state’s economy and create hundreds of jobs unless lawmakers act quickly on pro-growth legislation. With just hours before the regular legislative session comes to a close, the legislature has yet to pass a bill seeks to change existing laws related to vehicle sales, allowing manufacturers — such as Tesla — to open brick-and- mortar stores across Connecticut where they can sell cars directly to consumers.

Connecticut — It’s time to get on the right side of history

This month, Connecticut legislators will decide which side of history they will join. A pending bill currently in front of the Connecticut General Assembly would ban the use of solitary confinement against juveniles and people with severe mental illness or disabilities. Under H.B. 7302, Connecticut’s Department of Corrections also would have to report on its use of solitary confinement throughout the system. Given the well-known harms that come from locking a person up for 23 hours a day, these are good and important changes.

Connecticut public lands need our help

An important national debate is playing out in Hartford right now as the Connecticut General Assembly is currently considering a state Constitutional Amendment about the future of the Connecticut’s public lands. S.J. 39 would prevent the state from transferring, swapping, or selling state-owned lands without appropriate public input — and if it passes, it will further demonstrate Connecticut’s long history of valuing our parks, wildlife areas, waterbodies, and open spaces.

Please protect open space here in Connecticut!

With only a few days left in the Connecticut General Assembly’s regular session, I am really concerned that SJ 39, known as a Constitutional Amendment to Protect Open Space, will get left behind. We need State Sen. Kevin Witkos to lead the charge in support of this amendment again this year, before it can appear on the ballot in November 2018.

Mohegan is trying to be the competition they want CT to fear

If the Mohegan Tribe has their way, a satellite casino in East Windsor will not be the only new casino they would build in the region. As the Mohegan Sun Massachusetts (yes, Massachusetts) website currently points out, “Mohegan Sun Massachusetts is prepared to break ground immediately.”