Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lower property taxes with better healthcare...the Donovan plan comes to New Britain.

State House Majority Leader Chris Donovan came to New Britain yesterday evening to talk about a proposal he has that would provide both lower property taxes and build a plan that could be used to offer good quality health care coverage at an affordable price to businesses and their workers.

The idea is very simple. The state is able to get a low price for a very good health plan for state workers because it is buying for many thousands of people. But Connecticut's 169 cities and towns each have their own separate employee health care plans, so they end up paying more to cover each employee than the state pays - often thousands of dollars more per worker.

So the idea is to let municipalities buy the same health coverage at the same low price that the state pays. This could save massive amounts of money, allowing city and town governments to have lower property taxes.

Rep. Donovan is trying to find out just how much it would save New Britain taxpayers. Council Majority Leader Micheal Trueworthy is working to get information Rep. Donovan needs to calculate what New Britain taxpayers' savings would be.

The New Britain Herald is coming out with an article on Donovan's press event tomorrow. The article is already online. One surprising thing in the article is that, even with the potential for such large taxpayer savings, New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart has precipitously dismissed it out of hand:
But Stewart wasn’t buying it.

“Donovan can pedal his dog-and-pony show somewhere else. They want AFSCME to control this thing. Well, not here. This is an issue between me and my unions — not Chris Donovan.”
It is important to find and cut real waste to save taxpayers' money. So, I certainly hope Mayor Stewart changes his mind.

Of course, this idea has possibilities that go beyond lowering property taxes.

Specifically, if lower priced, quality health care coverage can be offered to city and town governments, shouldn't it also be offered to businesses and their workers?

If we could let businesses in our state offer their employees a good health plan at potentially less than they are paying now, that would make our state more competitive in the world economy. And it could be a great benefit to small businesses and the self-employed, who are getting crushed by rising health care premiums - if they can afford health care coverage at all. All of this would help businesses to create jobs and for the state economy to grow.

Of course, making sure everyone gets good quality health care coverage is a top priority of mine and I have worked hard to get this done. And I would like to get this done - well, yesterday.

But, if the Donovan plan is approved, the truth is that it would be a major step in this direction. So I hope it is approved in the 2008 legislative session.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Health care forum tonight at CCSU.

There was a health care forum tonight at CCSU. Since I have been at the Capitol, I was not able to go. Here is information flyer.
Universal Health Care Forum

When: Tuesday November 27, 2007
6:30 pm
Where: Vance Academic Center RM 105
This is a chance to see REAL PEOPLE in Connecticut and REAL REASONS why universal health care is a good idea.
Bring your opinions and your appetites.
I wish I was able to make it. If anyone would like to post a comment about the event to let me know how it went, that would be great.

Judiciary Committee hearing on public safety.

The legislature's Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, is holding a public hearing today - still going on now - on public safety concerns that have arisen from the horrific murders in Cheshire and other serious crimes.

With a great interest in taking action on this issue, the two chairpersons of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Mike Lawlor and Sen. Andrew McDonald, very wisely scheduled a public hearing and put out a request to legislators and state agencies to propose their ideas. Fourteen different items of legislation were proposed.

Even with the great emotion people feel for and against different proposals being offered, the refreshing thing about today's hearing is that there is a lot of common ground about what needs to be done. There are criminal laws that can be strengthened and there is a lot about the way the state does the job of protecting the public from crime that needs to be improved.

There are some disagreements, to be sure, but today's hearing has revealed that those differences are not really so great. I am very optimistic that the Committee will be able to produce strong legislation that can be overwhelmingly approved into law.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A salute to Tony Norris.

Last Sunday, Tony Norris, a community activist who worked for years to make the New Britain community, and the world, a better place, passed away. I consider myself lucky to have known him and learned from him. He was a good leader and a good friend. He will be missed.

He did so much to make our city a better place, that I am still learning about what he accomplished. From politics, to neighborhood organizing to farming, he was a strong and skillful leader who enriched our community his entire life. He was a true believer who never gave up the cause for justice, equality and a better life for everyone.

For my part, I have valued his advice and support over the years. I knew that that I could always count on his strong values, his experience and his wisdom.

My deepest condolences go to Tony's partner, Mike Kandefer, and to all of Tony's family.

And, by the way, if you have some memories of Tony you would like to share or stories of what he accomplished in his life, feel free to write them down as comments to this post.

Update, November 27, 2007:
NBPoliticus has a posting on the celebration of Tony Norris' life on December 9th.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Autism Forum in New Britain

The VNA of Central Connecticut hosted a forum this evening on autism. It was held at the New Britain Public Library.

Sen. DeFronzo gave some opening remarks, talking about the need for greater services for persons with autism and their families.

Kim Newgass, President of the Autism Society of Connecticut, gave the keynote speech. She talked about what autism is and what it is like to be the parent of a child with autism. I found her presentation very informative.

Also on the forum panel were Nancy Taylor, who is Educational Liaison for the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Jacqueline Kelleher, PhD., who is Education Consultant to the Connecticut Department of Education, Bureau of Special Education, Tabor Napiello of Systems of Care, Ruth Carvalho of the state Bureau of Rehabilitation Services and Eileen McMurrer and Dr. Ann Milanese of the state Birth to 3 System.

And, since I am writing on my own blog, it is worth mentioning that the Autism Society of Connecticut has a blog, too:

Community Meeting at McCullough Temple

On Monday, the New Britain legislative delegation held a community meeting at the McCullough Temple, which is located on the East Side of New Britain on Chapman Street. McCullough Pastor, Rev. Thomas Mills and Sen. DeFronzo organized the forum. In addition to Sen. DeFronzo and me, Rep. Geragosian and Rep. Tercyak were also there.

The meeting was an opportunity for the legislators to talk about issues coming up at the Capitol in the coming year, and to talk about the funding that we have succeeded in making available to fund local services and education and keep property taxes down.

More important, the forum was a chance for people to come out and discuss what they feel should be addressed. We heard concerns about creating good paying jobs, supporting education, addressing the mortgage crisis and ending abusive lending practices. I really appreciated hearing people's concerns - especially since these are issues I feel need to be addressed, too.

I thank the McCullough Temple congregation for hosting our community meeting, and I compliment McCullough on the active role it is taking, working proactively to build a stronger community.