I am pleased to share with you this update on the recently concluded legislative session. Each year brings a new set of challenges, and the 2014 session was no different. The need to encourage economic growth, help working families, and make critical investments in the future of our children, as well as our state, was clear.
Meeting these priorities while also adopting a balanced budget with no new taxes took a lot of hard work, but I am happy to report to you that my colleagues and I were able to achieve our goals.
Working in a bipartisan manner, we were able to increase funding for education and enable more children to attend pre-school. We also made additional investments in job creation programs such as STEP-UP, which encourages employers to hire veterans and the unemployed, and will help our economy grow.
Spurring more economic development was also a priority that we met by helping United Technologies Corp. to upgrade and expand its aerospace research and manufacturing facilities across the state. This, in turn, will have a domino effect and help its suppliers and related businesses.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
The state was able to make valuable investments and provide additional funding to our municipalities without raising taxes, while remaining under the spending cap. East Windsor and Enfield will see increased funding for education costs, Payments In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT), and other costs for a total amount of $6,684,303 for East Windsor and $33,463,980 for Enfield. By providing East Windsor and Enfield with additional state funding, municipal leaders don't feel the need to raise property taxes and can divert funds to make capital investments. Additional investments in job creation programs such as STEP-UP, which encourages employers to hire veterans and the unemployed, will help our economy.
I have worked very hard this session to stand up for our municipalities and give them the funding that they need. Both East Windsor and Enfield saw significant increases in state funding.
Some of our neighbors, like New York and New Jersey, have slashed funding for their municipalities thus forcing municipal leaders to dramatically increase local property taxes. I have made it my priority to not let that happen in Connecticut. Investing in our municipalities allows local leaders to make capital investments while keeping more money in the pockets of homeowners.
MORE JOBS, BETTER JOBS
Creating additional, better jobs for Connecticut residents continues to be one of our top priorities. Three such initiatives include:
• Creation of the Veteran's Opportunity Fund, a pilot program that will help our veterans re-enter the workforce;
• Providing assistance to the long-term unemployed in the form of job training, financial coaching and the opportunity to go back to school; and
• More funding to give our economically disadvantaged youth more access to jobs and work experiences.
MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE
Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 will increase the standard of living for thousands of hard-working families and put those dollars back into our local economy, helping small businesses in our neighborhoods. Connecticut led a national discussion just two years ago about getting to a $10 minimum wage, and we are proud to lead the way again, setting the stage for Congress to hopefully follow suit.
PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN
This year we authorized $22 million for another round of school security grants. This program helped many schools around the state add additional security infrastructure last year, with more than $21 million in grants distributed. The state's technical, charter, private and endowed schools will now be allowed to access the funds, with $2.2 million set aside for private schools that will be reimbursed at 50% of eligible costs.
SEXUAL ASSAULT ON CAMPUS
It is a sad reflection on our society that one in five women on college campuses experience sexual assault, with much of this violence unreported. The courageous young women that have come forward to tell their stories inspired legislation that overhauls how colleges and universities respond to, and work to prevent sexual assault. There must be a zero-tolerance policy for sexual violence on campus. Both students and parents should expect a safe learning environment at college.
HELP FOR VETERANS
This session we worked to streamline the state licensing process for our job-seeking veterans. Connecticut veterans can now apply their military training toward occupational licenses, including public safety positions and a variety of trades. In addition, college credits can be awarded for specialty training and apprenticeship credits applied to specific trades. This will allow our veterans to get right back to work and eliminate additional time spent on training they already have.
This law implements a penalty for lying about receiving a military medal or other Congressional decoration with the intent to fraudulently obtain money, property or other tangible benefits. Those wearing military uniforms or medals they are not entitled to wear with the intent to commit fraud can receive a fine between $500 and $1,000, up to six months imprisonment, or both.
I hope you the information above helpful and will feel free to call or email me for any reason — legislative or otherwise. It is my pleasure and honor to serve as your state representative. Best Wishes,
State Representative David Kiner
59th Assembly District, serving East Windsor and Enfield
Legislative Office Building, Room 4006
Hartford, CT 06106-1591