HARTFORD, CT – Democrats in the General Assembly today released a joint Democratic Values Agenda for the 2018 legislative session. The ambitious agenda focuses on supporting the middle class and creating economic opportunities for everyone; opening access to education; protecting women’s health care; keeping Connecticut residents healthy; supporting Connecticut’s hospitals; and preserving our democracy.
“This is a strong and progressive agenda that embraces our Democratic values,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D- New Haven). “At our very core, Democrats believe in equal pay for equal work; that no one working full-time should be forced to live in poverty; that health care is a right not a privilege; that women, not the government, can make their own health care decisions; that access to education is critical to growing our economy and students’ futures shouldn’t be consumed by crushing debt; and that we are a stronger state and nation when every vote counts and citizens have access to the ballot box. This is an agenda for the people. This is an agenda for Connecticut.”
“We all need to work together with a tight focus on critical issues such as encouraging sustained economic growth, supporting middle-class families, and protecting our social safety net,” said Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz (D-Berlin/Southington). “These are just some of the issues that are important to our caucus, and we will be working with our Senate colleagues and reaching across the aisle to move them forward this session. Everyone agrees where we need to head, whether it’s things like ending the gender pay gap, improving access to quality, affordable health care, or investing in our economy, so let’s get to work for all of Connecticut.”
“If we are going to build a stronger, more prosperous Connecticut for the middle class and our families, we need to invest in our local business, rebuild our infrastructure and train the our workers and students for in-demand jobs,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk). “While others would have our state retreat and push policies that take our state backwards, this Democratic agenda sends a clear message that Connecticut will continue to lead the way by investing in and building upon our strengths.”
“In broad-brush strokes, our agenda today represents weeks of conversations with House Democratic Caucus members and Senate Democrats,” House Majority Leader Matt Ritter (D-Hartford) said. “The principles we are talking about today – creating economic opportunities, access to higher education, quality health care and preserving democracy – will guide us through the 2018 session. We are committed to keeping Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family.”
"We can build a better future for Connecticut by leaning into our strengths and values, not by running away from them," said Senator Mae Flexer (D-Killingly). "Standing up for women's health and pay equity while expanding paid family leave and other just benefits will make our state stand out to young people. Building on the policies and traditions that give our state one of the best qualities of life in the nation will convince people to build their careers and families in Connecticut, paving the way for a stronger future for our state and one that we can be proud of."
“Our tech schools and community colleges must have the resources to provide the education and workforce training to meet the needs of employers in Connecticut,” said Commerce Committee House Chair Rep. Caroline Simmons (D-Stamford). “Manufacturers and other industries that require skilled workers tell me they often have difficulty filling jobs due to a lack of qualified candidates. A highly skilled workforce is a key component to economic growth in the 21st century. Also essential is supporting health care rights for women – especially during their reproductive years – to ensure economic stability for families.”
Supporting Middle-Class Families and Creating Economic Opportunities for Everyone
Earned Family Medical Leave
Working families should not have to face the prospect of economic ruin when presented with serious family needs such as caring for a newborn, a spouse, or their parents. The inability of employees to take paid time off to care for loved ones or themselves can leave them with no choice but to abandon family members in their time of need, or to neglect their own health.
Because it is so necessary and beneficial to our modern workforce, Democrats will work with employees and employers to fight for sensible earned family medical leave legislation.
It is well past time that Connecticut ensures that women are paid the wages they deserve. Connecticut women working full time are paid 83 cents for every dollar paid to men working full time. The pay gap is even greater for African-American and Latina women.
Democrats in the General Assembly believe that it is time to eliminate the wage gap and ensure pay equity for women and will not compromise on this vital issue.
A Livable Wage
For parents trying to make ends meet, for single moms working two or three jobs just to provide basic necessities for their children, there may be no more important, pressing issue than the stability of knowing they will have a full day of work and earning a fair, adequate and ‘livable’ wage. We simply cannot turn our backs on Connecticut residents earning low wages. We have seen large corporations like Aetna, Cigna, Wells Fargo and Target raise minimum wages company-wide but the rest of Connecticut needs to catch up. We must do all we reasonably can to help workers support themselves and their families.
Because we value the hard work, time and labor of Connecticut’s residents, Democrats in the General Assembly will fight for a livable wage.
Overhaul of Our Workforce Pipeline
With companies such as Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky planning to add thousands of new jobs in the coming years, it is critical we have an efficient, effective workforce pipeline to meet the growing needs of Connecticut employers. Democrats will assess all of our workforce development programs to see what works, eliminate duplication, and focus on Connecticut’s growth industries such as advanced manufacturing.
Our Roads, Bridges, Rail and Buses
When Connecticut invests in our roads, bridges, rail and buses, it is investing in the economy and job growth.
Connecticut is in an economic competition against New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts and in order to win we need a modern, reliable and safe transportation system. Our transportation infrastructure has undergone great improvements recently, but there is more work to be done. We need to not only rebuild what we have but envision transportation for the next generation that focuses on transit-oriented development to attract millennials to our cities.
Rebuilding our Infrastructure
We need to rebuild our transportation network so people can get to work and businesses can grow. In order to meet our transportation infrastructure needs and have out-of-state drivers help pay for our roads, the House and Senate leaders have committed to holding a vote to implement an electronic tolling system.
Opening Access to Education
Tuition-Free Community College
The promise of a higher education shouldn’t be just a dream. Higher education should be available to all hardworking Connecticut students. College graduates will earn on average more than $1 million more in their lifetime than adults without a college degree.
However, it has become increasingly harder for working- and middle-class families to be able to afford to send their kids to college.
That’s why Democrats in the Connecticut General Assembly are proposing to make tuition at our community colleges free for Connecticut residents. Our workforce is the envy of the nation. There are good-paying jobs available. Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky are preparing to fill a generation worth of jobs. Let’s keep our kids here in Connecticut.
Investing in Connecticut’s Technical High Schools
Democrats will propose an unprecedented investment in our technical high schools, apprenticeship programs, and community colleges. Democrats are proposing a partnership with the business community and manufacturers, legislation to create curriculum and open a to-be-determined number of new technical high schools to overhaul our workforce pipeline and ensure Connecticut students have the skills they need meet Connecticut’s growing workforce needs.
Protecting Women’s Health Care
Republicans have attacked access to women’s health care. Democrats in the General Assembly will introduce legislation aimed at protecting critical health services from federal cuts and shedding light on organizations that provide medically inaccurate information.
10 Essential Benefits
Democrats will introduce a bill ensuring that health insurance plans offered in the State of Connecticut cover the “10 essential benefits” protected by the ACA. These benefits include outpatient care as well as hospital care and trips to the emergency room, prenatal care and ongoing care for the baby throughout its childhood, prescription medicine, lab tests, as well as mental health and substance use disorder services.
Women’s Preventative Services
This session, Democrats will allow Connecticut to join a growing list of states that protect women’s access to contraception and other preventative health services with no out-of-pocket cost. More than 746,000 women in Connecticut have gained access to birth control with no out-of-pocket costs under the ACA. There have been multiple attempts at the federal level to roll back this benefit.
Building on the ACA’s Preventative Coverage
Legislation to be introduced this year will expand on the progress in reproductive health made by the ACA by expanding coverage for contraception. This new legislation will expand coverage for contraception to include 12-month prescription coverage and emergency contraception with no co-pay.
Shedding Light on “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”
Crisis pregnancy centers are organizations that attempt to look like legitimate family planning clinics, while actually providing medically inaccurate, anti-choice information. They target urban neighborhoods and other medically underserved communities where people do not have access to a regular gynecologist. Democrats will introduce legislation to ensure that people seeking health care advice about a pregnancy are not lied to or shamed by staff at “crisis pregnancy centers” seeking to further a political agenda.
Democrats stand united in the belief that health care is a right not a privilege. When a person is sick they should be able to see a doctor and get the prescription drugs they need. Democrats in the General Assembly will propose legislation to reduce prescription drug costs, guarantee access to health care, and get our premiums under control.
A Strong and Affordable Health Care System
The health care system should work for patients. When you are sick, you should be able to see a doctor and get the prescription drugs you need. Democrats will propose legislation to reduce prescription drug costs.
Supporting our Community Hospitals
Our community hospitals are vital health care providers, major employers and bioscience incubators. Democrats in the House and Senate will work to support and grow our hospitals and ensure that all residents have access to quality medical care.
Protecting our Natural Resources
With concern growing regarding Connecticut’s water, air and other natural resources, Democrats in the General Assembly will call for a full and public vetting of issues surrounding Connecticut’s natural resources to ensure that they are properly protected and preserved for the people – not for businesses.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic
Despite the expansion of access to treatment and other substantial policy achievements, the opioid epidemic continues to grip Connecticut. More than 1,000 Connecticut residents died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017 – more than from car accidents, homicides and suicides combined. Democrats pledge to continue to work with medical professionals and experts to preserve the gains already made and further expand access to treatment.
Preserving Our Democracy
National Popular Vote
Democrats in the General Assembly reject the notion that the citizens of the United States, in the year 2018, cannot be trusted to directly elect their president. Instead, Democrats believe in the direct election of the president by popular vote—that the winner of the presidency should be the candidate who gets the most votes in the election. Once again, Democratic members will introduce legislation allowing Connecticut to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Equal Access to the Ballot Box
With voting rights under attack across the nation, now more than ever Connecticut needs to protect everyone’s right to participate in our democracy. College campuses are where students get their housing, work, education, and meals – it is time that they also serve as a place where they can cast a ballot.
Increasing Participation Through Early Voting
Democrats believe increased voter participation is good for our democracy, and an early voting process leading up to Election Day would be an important step toward this goal. Democrats will propose a constitutional resolution on early voting in an effort toward having it appear as a question on the statewide ballot.