February 7, 2020
The latest from the folks across the street from the Capitol

From Paddi's Desk
by Paddi LeShane

"No more badmouthing the great state of Connecticut!" - Governor Ned Lamont, February 5, 2020.

Some say it's cheerleading, and I say go for it!

I truly believe there is a time and a place for all kinds of statements and visions. I'm not trying to get into the politics of a reaction to the Governor's speech. However, I truly believe there are many things that are great about our state and there are lots of things that need work. But as parents, we know if you only tell your children what they are doing wrong then they will lose confidence and begin to think they are not worthwhile individuals and the spiral begins. Without a set of expectations, some vision and some goal setting, no wonder so many of our young folks just don't know what they want to do when they grow up! They don't know how to make it happen or how to plan ahead.

I'm so glad we have a governor who is trying to be the parent here. He is talking about what is working, what is coming up next, what expectations he holds for the state and what we can do to make our state the greatest place in New England.

Both the Governor and the legislature know what's got to get fixed and where the improvement needs to be made. Let the election campaigns talk about what's not right and what's got to be changed. For now, with two more years of Governor Lamont's term, I'd rather see all of the stakeholders roll up their sleeves and work together to improve those things we all know about. We need to work on the huge issues of solid waste, housing, workforce development, securing a future for the next generation of kids and securing a place for both young professionals and our senior citizens.

Not to get into the budget and the Governor's 2020 vision for the session since I know other stories of this edition will get into those details, but I do want to mention that the business community, hospitals  and cities and town sure are feeling grateful today. In past budgets they took the brunt of financial hits, stiff regulations on anything that moved and the shrinking of the available workforce due to those concerns. Life might not be perfect but sometimes just the fact that no action is proposed might be a good action! 

I'm hoping as the legislature begins its process of kicking the tires of the Governor's initiatives, they take a minute to think about how they can add value to the ideas to make them better and workable. There are also a few important issues that the Governor didn't cover, and that's not so bad. The legislature can now put their own mark on those issues and create solutions to make things work better or reflect the fast changing world we all live in. I did notice that there were not many legislators, if any, declaring the any of the Governor's initiatives would be "dead on arrival." That's got to be a good start!

Quite often when people ask me what I do and I tell them I'm a lobbyist they ask, "Well, what do you do?" I tell them I'm a researcher, an educator, a marketer, a problem solver, a firefighter but most of all a voice, an ear, a set of eyes and an engineer looking to make something happen to make a problem better or create a new opportunity. It always works better when the Governor's office, the legislators, the media and the lobbyists work in tandem to solve what needs to be fixed or create those opportunities for not only CT residents but the business and state in general to grow and thrive.

That's good politics! Let's start now.

CT Agency Corner
Highs, Lows and TBDs of the State Budget 
by Michael Johnson
With the very small deficit being projected for FY2021 and no appetite for any major tax reform in an election year, the State Capitol was given a budget on Wednesday by Governor Lamont with very few major changes.
So how does the state go about balancing the budget as proposed by the Governor? Here's a breakdown on the changes we saw in the proposed budget:
- Revenue numbers for the most part have held steady since the budget was adopted last spring and even the sales tax collection numbers have been the highest reported on record. The most significant changes are maintaining a 10% surcharge on corporation taxes, eliminating natural gas sales tax exemptions for large capacity sales, and about $55M in miscellaneous fund sweeps. The state is also imposing a convenience fee for credit and debit card use.
New Spending/Revenue loss
- The state continued to fund $20M for the public private partnership with Bridgewater CEO Ray Dalio and also loses $55M in revenue from the small business entity tax that was cut in the budget. The far majority of state agencies saw very little increased spending in the budget but is beginning to increase spending in Department of Social Services and the Office of Early Childhood in an attempt to maximize federal grants for programs.
To Be Determined
- Consistent with the Governor's budget last year, the administration did not assume any new revenue from initiatives such as legalized sports gaming or legalization of recreational marijuana. To help foster a marijuana bill to pass this year, the Governor did budget $275,362 to hire two full time and one part time employees to administer the program.

Did You Know?
Sullivan & LeShane's Straw Poll: 
The Results are in!
On Wednesday night, Sullivan & LeShane celebrated Opening Day of the legislative session with our annual "Opening Day Party" at Salute Restaurant in downtown Hartford.

With 2020 being an election year, we chose our party's theme to reflect that and held a straw poll to get an understanding on where the people in and around the Capitol are at with their current presidential picks. Check out the results below!

Donald Trump: 12
Bernie Sanders: 10
Pete Buttigeig: 9
Elizabeth Warren: 7
Michael Bloomberg: 5
Joe Biden: 5
Bill Weld: 5
Joe Walsh: 2
Amy Klobuchar: 0
Andrew Yang: 0
In This Issue:

by Ryan Bingham

The legislative session began on Wednesday and the Governor gave his State of the State address and released his FY21 budget adjustments. Local municipal leaders were likely pleased to find only a few surprises within the adjustments.

Three of the state's largest cities will be looking at increases in state aid while some other towns are seeing slight changes or stable grant packages. The CT Conference of Municipalities (CCM) issued a statement commending Lamont for "... maintaining state aid commitments to cities and towns." "The proposed budget provides predictability to those counting on it most - city and town leaders and property tax-paying families and businesses," CCM officials said in a written statement. "It is crucial that towns and cities continue to have a seat at the table with the governor and state legislators this session to ensure adequate levels of state aid for towns, fight against unfunded state mandates, and encourage regional service sharing."

While local leaders may be happy with the newly proposed adjustments, they are still anxiously awaiting the 2019 bonding package that includes state grants for municipalities for things such as Town Aid Toad funds, Local Capitol Improvement grants and Municipal Revenue Sharing grants. As you may remember from other " In the Loop" articles, this bonding package has been tied up as the Governor and legislators have been trying to come to an agreement on the ever-present tolling issue. There is currently no date set for a Bond Commission meeting, but we will be sure to keep you posted on any new developments.

2020 Behind the Scenes
by Chelsea Neelon

This week, we featured Representative Brian Lanoue who represents the 45h House District.
What motivated you to run for office?
I believe that Eastern Connecticut has tremendous economic potential, but many business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs are concerned about the state's stagnant economy, burdensome taxes and fiscal policies and excess red tape. I ran because I wanted to encourage a new wave of risk-taking and innovation in the private sector. Despite being in the minority, I will continue to advocate for business-friendly legislation and will fight any proposals that hurts employers and their employees. I also believe that many people forget about the more rural areas of Connecticut, and I want to make sure the people I represent have a strong voice in Hartford advocating on their behalf.

What are some of your legislative priorities this session?
What are your legislative priorities this session?
- Create a more equitable formula for PILOT funding so that our towns will have better access to the financial resources they need and deserve.
- Promoting agriculture in the 45th District, supporting our farmers, and encouraging purchase of local produce.
- Doing everything possible to prevent tolls on Connecticut highways, whether on trucks or all motor vehicles.
- Supporting legislation that promotes fiscal prudence, and fighting legislation that raises taxes, fees, and creates more red tape for Connecticut businesses.
- Securing the passage of my background check bill requiring all prospective camp employees to be properly screened before having access to children.

Last question! What's your favorite hobby?
Traveling. I love visiting different parts of our great country and learning more about the issues they face and how they address them.

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