2020 Candidate Questionnaire
Democrat – 20th House District (West Hartford)
#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:
#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:
#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:I will advocate for a more fair tax structure that expects the most wealthy to pay their fair share so that our state has the necessary resources to provide expanded services and to do so with good-quality jobs. Every person doing the hard work providing these essential services, whether working in a state-run or private provider setting, deserves to be paid a fair wage with good health insurance and other benefits. I will also partner with all stakeholders to advocate for creating new program options for individuals and families — for example, expanding at-home services.
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: With the caveat that they are in line behind the 501(c)(3). That said, those with disabilities, the elderly and children, there not be adequate money in fiscal 22-23.
#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: My 20-year career in the non-profit sector has been focused on creating meaningful change for working families. I began my career lobbying for nonprofits at the State Capitol and most recently, served as Executive Director of the CT Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF). In that role, I worked closely with fellow nonprofit partners across the Hartford region and the state. I also serve as a volunteer for the Aurora Foundation, Foundation for West Hartford Schools, The Knox Foundation, and Foodshare. Throughout Greater Hartford, I enjoy the many museums, theatres, and arts venues that contribute to our community.