2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Christine Rosati Randall
Democrat – 44th House District (Killingly, Plainfield)
#1) BACKGROUND: Community services for people in need are funded by state government through contracts, grants, and Medicaid. Over the years, community nonprofits have been cut in budget after budget, causing significant reductions in funding for community services and harm to the people of the state. When faced with cuts, community nonprofits cannot raise taxes or prices, forcing them to cut services, lay-off employees or close programs. This is a model that cannot sustain itself – and it puts Connecticut’s quality of life at risk. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused unanticipated expenses for Personal Protective Equipment and more, revenue losses as people are avoiding in-person services, and constantly changing guidance on staffing ratios, etc.
QUESTION: If elected, would you stand-up in your caucus and tell your colleagues to support increases in funding for community nonprofits?
Please check one:
Additional Comments: Our community non-profits provide essential services to our communities. Our non-profits have seen dramatic cuts in funding that result in lay-offs and/or an inability to pay staff a living wage in addition to a loss of vital services and programs for our communities. As a former client and present board member of Access Community Action Agency, a local non-profit, I see the devastating impacts these funding cuts can have on the people who rely upon these services and programs.
#2) BACKGROUND: Community nonprofits are exempt from paying taxes by state and federal law because they provide services that would otherwise need to be provided by government. Nonprofits do not pay federal and state corporate income taxes for their charitable activities, donations to nonprofits are tax deductible, and nonprofits are exempt from Connecticut’s sales tax and local property taxes. Recently, there have been efforts at all levels of government to weaken the tax-exempt status of nonprofits, most notably at the local level with municipalities assessing property taxes to property used for charitable purposes.
QUESTION: Would you support legislation to clarify that community nonprofits that provide essential services are not subject to property taxation?
Please check one:
Additional Comments:Many of our non-profits could not sustain themselves if they were subject to property taxation. They are already underfunded and do amazing work with very little resources.
#3) BACKGROUND: Even though community nonprofits deliver more than 90% of residential services to people with Intellectual/Development Disabilities (I/DD) and 60% of clients served by Local Mental Health Authorities in Connecticut, the State continues to operate some of these services itself, with State-operated facilities staffed by state employees. The State and nonprofits provide the same services, (and substantiated quality of care) but nonprofits do so at half of the cost (i.e., nonprofits negotiate medical and dental insurance every year, while the State is locked into a contract; nonprofits don’t have long term debt obligations associated with healthcare and retirement plans, nonprofits can more easily manage overtime, etc). Given the reality that thousands of state employees are expected to retire by 2022, the State could use this upcoming biennial budget to redesign the service system to be more modern, efficient, sustainable, and simply help more people.
QUESTION: If elected, would you support converting more state-operated services to the nonprofit sector? If not, how would you ensure that state funding is able to help more people?
Please check one:
Additional Comments (250 words max):We need to increase state funding for all I/DD and mental health services and programs. I have concerns about privatizing state services. I understand the goal is to save money but it may result in lower wages and benefits for workers and reduced services for clients.
#4) BACKGROUND: The nonprofit arts and culture community enhances Connecticut’s quality of life. The arts make our communities better places to live and work – they create jobs, generate revenue, and are key considerations when families and businesses are thinking of locating in our state. A recent study found that Connecticut’s nonprofit arts and culture sector generates $797 million in annual economic activity for the state, supporting over 23,000 jobs and generating $72 million in local and state tax revenue. Yet all this economic activity is at risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many arts and cultural organizations that offer live performances have suspended all events, as some venues cannot be inexpensively reconfigured to social distance seating and/or improve ventilation. Further, major fund-raisers, another important source of revenue, have been postponed until further notice while general donations are also down as more people are unemployed.
QUESTION: Would you support state funding to keep art and cultural institutions in business until they can get back on their feet after the pandemic?
Additional Comments: As we are in a global pandemic and economic crisis, I would call upon our federal government to provide financial aid to states to support funding for sectors adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
#5) BACKGROUND: Community nonprofits across Connecticut serve over 500,000 people, employ 117,000 and spend $29 billion annually in Connecticut’s economy. Nonprofits contribute to our state’s communities, economy and quality of life; they support the developmentally disabled, feed the hungry, provide behavioral health and substance abuse treatment, and help prisoners re-enter their communities. Nonprofits also enrich the state through art and culture — providing visual arts and performances and preserving our state’s historical landmarks.
QUESTION: What has been your experience with nonprofits in your community?
Answer: I am currently employed by Day Kimball Healthcare, a non-profit, essential to our rural part of the state. In my role, I work with many non-profits who are dedicated to their missions and maximize the limited resources they have to serve their clients. As mentioned previously, I am a current board member and former client of Access Agency, a local non-profit providing assistance with heating, housing, food and employment. In 2015 & 2016, I served on the CT General Assembly’s Human Services Committee and heard testimony from numerous nonprofits.
Nonprofit organizations play an important role in communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. They also strengthen communities in other ways. For example, nonprofit leaders are often the voice of the people they serve who would not otherwise be heard.