Sen. Kissel Visits Windsor Locks Senior Center to Provide Capitol Update [Reminder News]

February 24, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Reminder News on February 24, 2012

State Sen. John A. Kissel (R-7) is a familiar face at the Windsor Locks Senior Center – and not simply because he has represented the State’s 7th Senatorial District for 10 consecutive terms. He is a familiar face because he stops by as often as he can to talk to those he represents, and Feb. 16 was just such a day.

Kissel began by addressing the budget shortfall recently announced by Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office. “Right now, despite having the largest tax increase in the history of the state of Connecticut, we are running a deficit,” said Kissel. He went on to note, however, that next year’s budget will pose even greater challenges, with Malloy projecting a surplus and proposing additional spending – and the Office of Fiscal Analysis projecting a deficit of $150 million even without that additional spending.

Next, the senator discussed the proposed minimum wage increase, which he believes will cause teenage unemployment – currently at about 25 percent – to go even higher. “If you increase the minimum wage,” he said, “small businesses that may want to hire a young person are just going to say, ‘We can’t afford to.’”

Regarding the capital punishment debate, Kissel said that although he respects those who do not favor it, he feels that it has a place in the criminal justice system.

Kissel also explained that when it comes to the issue of Sunday alcohol sales, he is in favor, believing that the “Mom & Pop” stores should be able to decide for themselves what days they are open.

Finally, Kissel indicated that there is no legislation pending that will either decrease or increase senior benefits. He did, however, talk about his very personal hope that more can be done to address the needs of those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, having experienced the latter in his own family. “I know that here in Windsor Locks you have lots of loving, caring folks that help the senior population,” said Kissel, “and if anything ever endangers those funding streams, it will be a real matter of importance to me.”

Kissel then opened the discussion to his audience, which responded with many questions, concerns and insights.

One man registered his dismay with both the recent retroactive state income tax and the New Britain/Hartford Bus Way, both of which Kissel himself has opposed. Another asked whether the state was going to cap the “gross receipts” gasoline tax – a second tax not visible to consumers that increases each time the price of gas increases, and Kissel responded that such a cap is, in fact, being requested because “we don‘t think it’s fair for the state to get a windfall just because the price of gas is going up.”

Additional issues were raised, including whether or not the state would consider reducing the income tax on retirees; why state and municipal governments permit personnel to include overtime, as well as early retirement followed by second careers, in their pension calculations; why the unemployment numbers do not include those who have exhausted their unemployment insurance or are underemployed; why Medicaid recipients receive broader benefits than seniors on Medicare who have paid into the system; and why the state’s obsolete accounting practices have not been updated. Kissel promised to follow up on each concern.