From the Capitol: A seat at the table
Earlier this month, state legislators from across the state came together to celebrate the start of the 2017 Legislation Session at the State Capitol. Following the November elections, both new and returning legislators are sworn into office to serve a two-year term. This year, I had the honor of being sworn in for my fourth term, and I am looking forward to continuing my service on your behalf in Hartford.
On opening day, we heard directly from the governor in the annual “State of the State” address in which he referenced the importance of a predictable economy – I cannot agree more. Without a sustainable, predictable economy businesses will not have the confidence needed to grow jobs in our state. Without these jobs, middle-class families in Connecticut will continue to struggle to make ends meet.
For the next two years, I will be serving as the Assistant Senate Republican Majority Leader in the Connecticut State Senate. I am thrilled that I have also been assigned as both the Co-Chair of the Aging Committee and the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. I will also take a leadership role on both the Housing Committee and the Human Services Committee – as a Vice-Chair. In the upcoming months, legislators will have the opportunity to address the challenges facing our state, and with the tie in the Senate – we will finally have a seat at the table.
A major concern for this session will be the rising cost of healthcare and the state budget. As legislators we often have the opportunity to discuss our ideas and ways in which we can improve our state. That is why in December I hosted a Health Insurance Forum at the Capitol where I discussed these challenges with experts in the field. This was a huge step in listening to how the insurance industry thinks we can do better as it relates to healthcare costs and job creation. What I heard at this forum was that there are state-based solutions that we can use to help reduce the cost drivers of insurance premiums – which may bring welcomed relief to the hard-working middle-class families of Connecticut.
I will continue to host these types of forums, as I truly believe this productive dialogue will help us guide Connecticut and continue to concrete our state as the Insurance Capitol.
Far too long Republicans have been locked out discussions surrounding our state budget – we must now work together to stabilize our economy. Despite some of the largest tax hikes in state history, the state budget faced a year end deficit of $77.5 million and faces a total deficit of $3.1 billion over the biennium. I am optimistic that Republicans will now have a seat at the table and an opportunity to provide sustainable resolutions to our economic woes.
A Renewed Hope
While our state does face many challenges ahead there is still hope with investments like the Sikorsky Deal. As you know, the best helicopters in the world are made right here in our backyard – nobody else does it better than Sikorsky. In September we reached a deal with Lockheed Martin Corp. to keep and possibly increase jobs at the helicopter manufacturer. Connecticut should be investing in economic development plans that pave a path to huge economic growth.
As we look toward a new year and a new legislation session I am filled with a sense of optimism. The people spoke loud and clear in November – we need balance – we need to work together to make Connecticut a place where middle-class families can thrive.
I think I speak for all of our senators when I say– we are ready to roll up our sleeves and work together to lead our state on a path to sustainability.
Between now and June, the General Assembly will have many opportunities to consider proposals aimed at improving our laws and the lives of families throughout our state. It is an honor to represent you, and I encourage you to remain involved in the legislative process. Please feel free to contact my office by emailing me at Kevin.Kelly@cga.ct.gov or calling 1-800-842-1421.