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Capitol Connection: Why Probate Court Cuts are Bad News for CT

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

When any governor releases a biennial budget proposal it sometimes takes a fine tooth comb to fully uncover and understand all the changes being proposed.

Deep within the budget this year, buried in an appendix section, one significant hidden cut emerged. This $32 million cut was no trivial reduction in funding. Rather, it was the outright elimination of state funds for Connecticut’s Probate Court system, a cut that would seriously cripple vital social services if passed into law.

The Probate Court system in Connecticut is responsible for overseeing a wide range of issues. Traditionally, the system handles issues of probate, administration of estates, wills and distribution of assets. In recent years, the system has also handled cases involving children or adults who need to be cared for by others. This includes issues related to mental health, absent parents, adoptions, substance abuse, and intellectual disabilities. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: A Budget Built on Broken Promises

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

Budgets should never be balanced on broken promises. Sadly, that is exactly what the governor has done.

Last week Governor Malloy unveiled his two year budget proposal totaling almost $40 billion.  This budget burdens taxpayers with over $915 million worth of new tax increases, and eliminates essential tax exemptions Connecticut families and businesses were counting on.

Most offensive is the plan to eliminate a scheduled tax exemption on clothing under $50. This exemption would make essentials like children’s clothing more affordable for Connecticut families, especially those most in need. While the governor eliminated this tax exemption years ago, he proudly campaigned on the fact that he would restore the tax break this year. But now this promise is out the window. In addition, the governor also wants to lower the threshold for the sales tax free week from $300 to $100, meaning much less will be eligible for that special back-to-school savings many families rely on. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: Prioritizing Transportation

February 12, 2015 Politics, State Capitol No Comments
State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

For hundreds of years our state has not properly funded transportation. As a result, we are faced with crumbling roads and bridges, deteriorating infrastructure, and a weak public transportation system.

This year, the governor has pledged that he will make transportation a priority for our state. I applaud those efforts, but am wary of exactly how the governor will fund his plans.

I don’t want to see a large tax increase. I don’t want to see tolls. I don’t want Connecticut families and employers to face any new burdens to fix a problem that has persisted in our state for generations.

That’s why I am happy to share an alternative – a Republican plan that can fund huge transportation projects without tolls and without new taxes. “Prioritize Progress,” a plan announced this week by GOP lawmakers, reprioritizes how we currently spend and borrow to make sure transportation is not ignored. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: An Invisible Danger

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

About 1 in 5 Americans suffer from allergies. We’re familiar with the effects of many of these. For example, pollen can cause severe congestion, cat dander can cause itching, and peanuts can cause hives and even anaphylaxis – a life threatening reaction. But how familiar are you with the effects of a latex allergy? And how sensitive and dangerous is this allergen really?

I recently learned about latex allergies at a public hearing at the state Capitol before the Connecticut General Law Committee. Up for discussion was a bill proposing a new law that would prohibit the use of latex gloves at food businesses. The purpose of the bill: to prevent latex particles from coming into contact with food in restaurants, stores, and manufacturing establishments. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: A Local Approach 

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

At the annual Connecticut Council of Small Towns earlier this month, towns from the Litchfield hills to the Rhode Island border united to discuss their 2015 legislative priorities. Together, town leaders shared their ideas and made their voices heard. One united and strong voice clearly emerged – a voice that spoke out against burdens on municipalities.

Every time new costs are imposed on our towns by state agencies, towns are tasked with finding new revenue to fund the new requirements. More red tape often translates to higher local taxes, something both town officials and residents hate to see.

Connecticut is ranked as one of the worst states for property taxes, with our high fees putting us in the #2 spot, according to the Tax Foundation and Kiplinger. So this year at the Capitol, in addition to tackling our state budget, legislators need to focus on giving towns the tools they need to reduce property taxes and wrangle in their own costs. That means stopping unfunded mandates and making it easier for towns to fund their own projects. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: Starting the Conversation 

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

Last week marked the official start of the 2015 legislative session. With the pomp and circumstance of an inauguration and the swearing in of Connecticut’s lawmakers and leaders, Connecticut opened another important chapter in our modern day history.

It is the start of a conversation; the start of a discourse that will lead us to new bills, updated laws, and legislation that I hope will improve Connecticut for our families, our children and our futures.

I’m ready to discuss the key issues at play in our state, and ready to tackle state spending, rising healthcare costs, burdensome taxes, and access to the best education. I’m also ready to put forward some ideas that I know will brighten our futures. Here’s a closer look at just some of the ideas I plan to propose legislation for this year.  … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: The Fight Against ‘Unfunded Mandates’ — Let the Towns be Heard!

December 31, 2014 Politics, State Capitol No Comments
State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

One of the most dreaded phrases for any city or town has got to be “unfunded mandate.” This term refers to any statute or regulation that requires a local government to do something, without allocating any money to cover the costs associated with the requirements.

Here in Connecticut, we have over 1,200 mandates on cities and towns, a vast majority of which are unfunded. These unfunded mandates are controversial because they are often very well intentioned, but they can also create huge problems for cities and towns that cannot afford the added associated costs. … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: Understanding the Legislative Process

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

We are just weeks away from the start of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Legislative Session. It’s the time of year when new ideas abound and state lawmakers work furiously to address a wide variety of concerns across Connecticut. While the session can be a busy time, it also follows a very well defined process. Understanding this process is key to understanding how government works – and, more importantly, how we can work together to better Connecticut.

The Basics

The General Assembly is made up of 36 members in the State Senate and 151 in the House of Representatives. The legislative branch also has 27 different committees which lawmakers are appointed to. In my case, I was appointed to serve on the following committees for this session: General Law, Higher Education and Employment Advancement, Legislative Management, and Regulations Review. Each committee is responsible for examining bills in different categories and fine tuning legislative proposals before they make it to the floor of the House and Senate for a vote. … Continue Reading

Witkos Named Ranking Member of General Law and Higher Education Committees

December 12, 2014 Politics, State Capitol No Comments
State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

State Sen. Kevin Witkos.

(Submitted) Hartford – State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-Canton), incoming Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore, has been appointed by the Senate Republican Caucus to serve as Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s General Law Committee and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee  for the 2015-2016 legislative sessions. Senator Witkos will also serve as a member of the Regulations Review and Legislative Management committees over the next two years.

“I am honored to be reappointed as Ranking Member of the General Law Committee and I am very excited to take on a new leadership role in the Higher Education Committee,” said Senator Witkos. “I look forward to leading the discourse on significant policy issues and questions facing the state of Connecticut. Along with my fellow committee members I hope to set a legislative agenda that will improve our state’s business environment and strengthen our higher education system. Together these two initiatives will aim to increase the availability of skilled jobs while strengthening and growing Connecticut’s workforce.” … Continue Reading

Capitol Connection: No More Coins Under the Sofa Cushions

State Sen. Kevin Witkos

State Sen. Kevin Witkos

From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos

The state budget is out of control. Overspending has sucked our operating funds dry and pushed state officials to desperate measures, shaking their piggy banks empty and flipping the proverbial sofa cushions on a hunt for spare change. Recent reporting from the governor’s own budget director indicates that our state has now entered into “permanent fiscal crisis,” and there’s nothing left to scrape up to pay our bills.

The situation is serious, but the first and most important step in getting our finances back on track is getting our state leaders to stop living in a fantasyland. … Continue Reading

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