Column: Starting the Turn-Around
By Bill Drake
Our beautiful town of Greenwich has many advantages and much we can be proud of. We are especially fortunate to be represented in Hartford by Livvy Floren, Mike Bocchino, and Fred Camillo in the General Assembly and by Scott Frantz in our state Senate.
This Greenwich Delegation has fought tirelessly and effectively for our town and for our state. We see the result of their good work everywhere we look. We see it in Byram, in the walls of the brand-new New Lebanon School which is under construction with the help of a large state grant developed by these representatives. We see it in the gun safety laws that they created and supported, and in their bills to combat the opioid epidemic. We see it in their productive efforts on behalf of women: for pay equity, domestic violence protection, and insurance-covered screening for breast cancer. These successes are a benefit to us all.
After eight years under Democrat Governor Dan Malloy, everyone knows about Connecticut’s giant deficits, increasing taxes, job losses, weak economy and population loss. But our four representatives in Hartford have made real steps to turn the state around for all of us. After the 2016 election, Scott Frantz and the other Republicans formed fully 50% of the state senate for the first time in 20 years. The Republicans gained an equal voice in the budget negotiations.
Our Senator Frantz became Co-Chair of the Finance Committee, and his work has been a blessing to every Connecticut resident. As a result, Malloy was simply overruled and ignored in budget-making. No one in Hartford felt that his leadership was steering our state in a positive direction. In fact, in the eight years of Democratic leadership in the Governor’s office, our state has seen the greatest tax increases and yet the greatest increase in debt. Something needed to change. Our delegation has commenced the turn-around. If we can return them to office in this November’s election, together with new Republican Governor Bob Stefanowski, our state will continue to recover.
In the past year, our delegation was instrumental in the creation and passing of two bipartisan budgets. The bipartisan budgets are a first step and a big one. Our Greenwich Delegation was able to push forward many of their more fiscal conservative ideas. The bi-partisan budgets have given our state hope; hope for fiscal recovery and hope for an economy that will encourage businesses to return, offering jobs and opportunity. And with jobs and opportunity, we all hope that families will stay and children will find a reason to come home.
So, what’s so great about the bi-partisan budgets? A lot, but here are a few of the highlights.
• No New Taxes
• A three-year phase out of the tax on Social Security
• A three-year phase out of the tax on pensions
• A genuine bonding cap
• A genuine spending cap
• A genuine volatility cap
• An increase of the estate threshold from $2 million to the federal level, saving many families from this painful tax (a Greenwich Delegation bill)
• The ability to both debate and vote on union contracts
The budgets continue to protect our most vulnerable, prioritizing those with the greatest needs and the education of our children. These budgets:
• Provided $1.6 million in additional funding for retired teachers’ healthcare
• Fully restored the Medicare Savings plan to 211% of the Federal poverty level
• Restored HUSKY, a health insurance for adults between 138% to 150% of the Federal poverty level
• Allocated $5 million for emergency placements for the developmentally disabled
Our delegation is respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle; they are dedicated and hardworking; they get results; their care for our community is genuine and solid and they continue to fight hard for our state’s fiscal recovery. In the last eight years under Democratic leadership, we have watched as the news about our state has become more and more grim. I am supporting the Republican Delegation, Livvy Floren, Mike Bocchino, Fred Camillo for the House and Scott Frantz for State Senate because they will continue to fight for our economic recovery and give hope for our families, for our beautiful community and the wonderful state in which we reside.
Bill Drake, a Republican, has served on Greenwich’s Board of Estimate and Taxation since January 2014.