During this past legislative session several of my personal legislative priorities became law. In addition to my personal priorities, we passed many other laws that will benefit members of our community. My priorities this past session were protecting seniors, providing opportunities to our children, encouraging economic development, and serving our veterans. Several of these pieces of legislation were sparked from interactions with constituents in the 14th state Senate District. I value each and every conversation with people in our community. If you would like to speak with me, I hold a regular coffee and conversation the third Thursday of every month at the Starbucks in Orange.
One thing I often hear from senior citizens is that as a state we need to do a better job of making it possible for them to stay in the communities that they love. With this year’s budget, we eliminated the state income tax on Social Security for individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $100,000 or less. In addition, we are starting to phase out the income tax on pensions individuals earning $75,000 or less and couples earning $100,000 or less. For our state’s seniors, we are providing tax breaks on Social Security and pensions and right now those eligible are fully exempted from state income tax on Social Security.
Connecticut has the seventh oldest population in the nation. We must do all we can to take care of our seniors and ensure their standard of living meets or exceeds expectations. An important way we accomplish that is by keeping them safe. As Aging Committee co-chair, I am pleased to inform you that we’ve banned individuals convicted of assault and/or abuse crimes from gaining employment at nursing homes or long-term care facilities. We’ve also established an elder abuse registry website.
You may not be aware of this fact, but currently there are 7,500 open computer coding jobs open in the state of Connecticut. In the next 5 years, there are predicted to be over 2 Million unfilled computer coding jobs across the country. Currently, computer coding jobs are the highest paid jobs without an advanced degree. Learning these skills are critical for our students and for our economy. I am very proud to have championed computer coding legislation. Under this law, all Connecticut schools are required to offer Computer Science curriculum. This law makes Connecticut the first state to require teacher preparation programs to offer instruction on teaching programming and coding. Additionally, the Department of Economic Community Development will perform an analysis of workforce needs in our state, work with the other relevant agencies to develop a plan to prepare our workforce, and help facilitate internships for college students with companies in our state.
We know we must ensure our children have the tools they need to achieve great success as they become adults. It is also extremely important to protect them. I am proud to have voted in favor of legislation which extends all statute of limitations related to sexual crimes. Prior to this legislation our state had one of the shortest statute of limitations for these types of crimes, which prevented many victims from getting the justice they deserved. This legislation is deeply personal to me as these heinous acts have affected both family and friends.
In order for our students to have great opportunities after they complete their education, we need to promote more economic development throughout the state. One small step towards encouraging small business growth was eliminating the Business Entity tax. In addition, we revised the language of the “Transfer Act.” It will now reduce the number of properties and businesses subject to the Transfer Act and shorten the window for commencing audits, making it easier to buy and sell commercial properties that fall under the purview of this act.
Another bill that I am proud to have championed was a bill enhancing Opportunity Zones in the State of Connecticut. Opportunity Zones (OZs) were created by the federal tax reform in 2017 and this law will help to unlock an estimated $6 trillion in unrealized capital gains. The legislation layers some state incentives on top of the federal incentives, making investing in our state’s OZs more attractive and draws investments from out of state.
As co-chair of the Veterans committee, we were able to pass many pieces of legislation to help provide services for our veterans. We were able to increase the property tax exemption for disabled veterans. A bill that I introduced and was enacted will strengthen our manufacturing industry and help our state’s veterans find work. The Military to Machinists Program will ensure veterans are prepared for successful careers in manufacturing. This bolsters an important industry and helps veterans transition to life as civilians.
These are just some of the laws that we passed. If you have questions on any laws that were passed or suggestions on how we can help grow our state, please reach out to me. There is still much work to be done. Constituents’ views and concerns influenced my priorities this session and next year will be no different. Feel free to contact me to share your thoughts or concerns.
James Maroney is State Senator for the 14th District covering Orange, Milford, West Haven (part) & Woodbridge (part).