Len Fasano holding top Senate Republican leadership position this session [RJ]

January 20, 2015


HARTFORD – After holding a number of leadership positions in the state Senate, Republican Len Fasano is now minority leader. In his new role he plans to make priorities of the state budget, transportation and health care.

Republicans are the minority party in both the House and Senate and were unable to take any statewide offices in November.

“Our role is to be vocal, to be heard, to still bring ideas to the table,” said Fasano, whose 34th Senate District comprises Wallingford, North Haven, East Haven and Durham.

Fasano said he’s got a good working relationship with Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden.

“When you can talk to someone and don’t have to be on your guard … I think it’s huge when it comes to conversations,” he said.

Looney said he knows Fasano as a legislator and as a fellow attorney.

“I’ve always found him to be someone who’s principled and also who is reasonable,” Looney said.

Vincent Cervoni, chairman of the Wallingford Town Council, said having a senator representing Wallingford in a leadership position is an advantage.
“It probably gives us a little leg up,” Cervoni said.

Cervoni’s major concern is state mandates on stormwater treatment that could require costly upgrades of municipal wastewater treatment plants. Cervoni hopes the legislature can modify, postpone or fund those mandates, which could cost millions.

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy described transportation as one of the state’s biggest challenges and proposed widening Interstate 95, building new rail stations and branch lines, and creating a “21st century bus service.”

While agreeing transportation is a problem, Fasano said he is also concerned about state debt. He feels borrowing to widen I-95 could saddle future legislatures with the interest on those loans. Fasano was also concerned about how long the project could take.

“We’ll all be in backpack jets by the time that thing gets done,” he said.

Expanding rail service is a better way to address congested roads, according to Fasano. Creating a high-speed service from New Haven to New York that would keep the commute to about an hour could help the transportation situation and make more Connecticut cities viable living options for those working in New York.

Looney said he is glad Malloy is making transportation a priority. Changing commuting patterns, including those traveling from the cities to the suburbs to work, make car, rail and bus transportation important issues to address.

Looney and Fasano worked on bringing a for-profit hospital to the state, a plan which floundered last month but could be revived.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. notified state regulators in December it was withdrawing its applications to buy five hospitals in Connecticut because of requirements proposed by the state Office of Health Care Access. Tenet had planned to buy Waterbury Hospital as a first step.

Fasano supports the addition of Tenet to the state’s existing health care networks. With the expansion of Hartford Hospital and Yale’s networks, Fasano said, another entity can provide competition.

He and Looney met with Tenet officials about how OCHA’s restrictions could be negotiated.

“The conversations are very, very positive,” Fasano said.

There’s little difference between the way a for-profit hospital operates and the way Yale and Hartford Hospital have run their networks, Fasano said. Sharon Hospital, a for-profit institution, spends proportionately less on CEO and middle management salaries, while spending more on community activities, according to Fasano.

As minority leader, Fasano’s role includes helping Republicans win support. The party has been misrepresented as not caring about the poor and cities.
The most pressing need is jobs for young people who may not go to college or trade school after high school. Fasano said tech jobs can provide work since younger generations are familiar with technology.

In addition to providing a plan, Republicans also have to communicate.

“We have to go the inner-city communities, we have to go to the business communities,” he said. “I want people to know who we are.”