Fasano Responds to Duff’s Opposition of “Community Empowerment” Proposal

March 14, 2016

Hartford – Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following statement in response to Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff’s (D-Norwalk) call for Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) to defeat Sen. Fasano’s proposed “Community Empowerment” bill, S.B. 421.

“I now understand why there are questions about this bill. Had Sen. Duff picked up the phone to talk to me about this proposal, I would have explained to him my intentions for this bill were for it to only apply to large Connecticut cities, not small or medium sized towns. Apparently there is confusion, and I intend to send revised language to the Committee to clarify the original intent of this proposal.

“This proposal is part of an urban agenda that aims to strengthen our cities so that all people, no matter where they were born and no matter where they live, can embrace their right to opportunity. The current system of throwing money at the problems in our cities is not the right way to promote lasting growth. In urban centers, money given to city hall often gets eaten up by bureaucracy and does not always make it into the community where it can directly improve the lives and well-being of city residents. When I’ve met with various individuals in the community, many have expressed that people in our cities believe they don’t have a voice. This proposal aims to get funding into urban communities by empowering community members to be part of the decision making. Similar community funding is being done in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, Boston, San Francisco and in other cities across the country.

“In the past five years over $6 billion of taxpayer dollars have been given to Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury. But during that same time, the poverty rate has climbed and food stamp utilization in the state has increased by 60,000. Hartford, for example, has benefited from $2 billion in funding yet unemployment and homicides have increased. So where is all this money going?

“By involving Community Investment Boards in our cities, our state can do a better job directing funding to specific programs that are relied upon by people who reside in a community.”