Connecticut’s Crises: Some Addressed, Some Snubbed as Connecticut Enters Survival Mode

June 14, 2017

By: Senator Heather Somers

Given that I have just concluded my first legislative session as a Connecticut State Senator I thought that it was important to give my constituents a quick legislative update and recap of the session.

Unfortunately the 2017 Legislative Session has come to an end without a state budget to move us into the next two fiscal years. While Connecticut has ended legislative sessions in the past without a budget our great state has never faced a fiscal crisis like we do today. That is why I am proud to stand with my Senate Republican colleagues and offer Connecticut residents an alternative to the status quo in Hartford – a budget and a plan to move Connecticut forward, A New Direction.

The proposed Senate Republican Budget:

  • Closes the deficit without new taxes
  • Increases education funding and includes a new ECS formula.
  • Stabilizes municipal aid and does not add new financial burdens onto towns and cities.
  • Maintains tax exempt status for hospitals to protect them from a new local hospital tax.
  • Preserves core government services by restoring funding for social services and protecting funds for services and programs that benefit people most in need.
  • Prioritizes transportation needs and stabilizes funding without tolls or new taxes
  • Lowers taxes for retirees and helps seniors age in place
  • Enhances funding for state parks and tourism
  • Streamlines government
  • Provides for structural changes

Despite the serious financial crisis Connecticut faces and the constant departure of families and businesses, the Senate was not allowed to vote on this budget due to the “veiled Democratic majority” in the Senate. It remains even more appalling that there was no vote on this proposal when the Senate Republican Budget was the only line-by-line budget offered by a General Assembly caucus. Despite this implied snub and disguised hypocrisy I will continue to fight for you – the overlooked taxpayer.

Learn more about what’s in our budget proposal and state employee labor savings plan on our website

There is no doubt that our state budget is one of the most important pieces of legislation, but just like the financial crisis we are facing – Connecticut is also facing an opioid crisis. That is why it was so important for the legislature to take a stand and address this heart-breaking disease.

House Bill 7052 makes several changes to prevent and treat opioid drug abuse, including:

  • Requiring individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatments
  • Requiring a treatment facility to use admissions criteria developed by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, which urges admission regardless of health status or addiction levels
  • Limiting access to controlled substances by allowing certain registered nurses employed by home health care agencies to destroy or dispose of them
  • Requiring practitioners, when prescribing opioids, to discuss with all patients, rather than only minors, the risks associated with opioid drug use
  • The bill reduces, from a seven day supply to a five day supply, the maximum amount of an opioid drug a practitioner may prescribe to a minor
  • The bill requires prescriptions for controlled substances to be electronically transmitted – with a few exceptions including if the prescriber demonstrates that they do not have the technological capacity
  • The bill also creates a standing order – a non-patient specific prescription to licensed pharmacists to prescribe Naloxone

Overall this legislation works to limit access to controlled substances and strives to create awareness about opioid addiction, and as the Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee I was thrilled by the positive response to this legislation.

Despite the direct snub of the Senate Republican budget and the unheeded warnings about restructuring our state government, Connecticut lawmakers endeavor to sit down to negotiate a budget and move our state forward. Until then it is safe to say that the General Assembly has amply addressed one of Connecticut’s crises with good, bi-partisan legislation. Regrettably the Senate Republican Budget proposal, which directly addresses our financial crisis, has fallen on deaf ears as Connecticut enters survival mode.