State Sen. LeBeau On UConn's NextGen, Reduced Uninsured Rate and Supporting Small Manufacturers

Capitol News from State Sen. Gary LeBeau (D-3rd D), representing the residents of East Hartford, East Windsor, Ellington and South Windsor:

Small Business Express Grant

On Aug. 5, I met with Between the Rounds Bakery Sandwich Café president Jerry Puiia to discuss a recent Small Business Express Grant that the South Windsor company received. The Small Business Express grant has allowed small business to grow and hire new workers in East Windsor, Ellington and South Windsor, among other area towns.

I'm very proud of this–900 businesses helped throughout the state, particularly because most of them are small businesses. I think that's how we really grow the economy is that we plant a lot of seeds. It's amazing that 896 small businesses have succeeded over the course of almost two years.

This is a very successful plan we're very pleased with. It's great to see it right here on Route 5, right down the street from where I live.

UConn's Next Generation

I was in attendance for the recent announcement regarding UConn's decade-long plan to increase research programs, facilities and faculty, which they call Next Generation Connecticut.

NextGen, which was approved last year by the state legislature, seeks to greatly expand educational opportunities, research and innovation in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines at UConn over the next decade.

The goal of NextGen is to create jobs and bring new life to Connecticut's economy by increasing enrollment, expanding faculty and building new facilities to accommodate enhanced STEM research and teaching. Specific goals of the 10-year plan include hiring 259 new faculty, enrolling an additional 6,580 undergraduate students, building facilities to house materials science, physics, biology, engineering, cognitive science, genomics, and related disciplines, constructing new teaching laboratories, and more.

I'm very pleased with the amount of private industry involved in NextGen. It is precisely what we were looking for, and exactly what the state needs. The partnerships UConn is forming right now with private industry will have tremendous benefits down the road.

Helping the Uninsured

Many years ago, when I voted to create Connecticut's Health Insurance Exchange, some doubted whether any good would ever come if it.

So I am pleased to say that a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows Connecticut's uninsured rate has dropped by 50 percent since 2012, from 7.9 percent to 4 percent. Figures also indicate that of the 256,000 residents who signed up for health insurance through the exchange, more than half were uninsured at the time of enrollment.

Unpaid medical bills are a leading source of personal bankruptcy in America and, quite frankly, is an embarrassment for an industrialized nation like the United States. I'm proud of my vote and the benefit it has brought to Connecticut residents!

Supporting Small Manufacturers

I recently joined Governor Malloy for the ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 232, which expands the tax break for eligible manufacturers that establish a Manufacturing Reinvestment Account. The MRA is designed to help small manufacturers fund capital investments and train their workers; I advocated for its expansion to help more Connecticut companies.


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