Fairfield lawmakers today issued the following statement regarding the state’s decision to hike rail and bus fares Dec. 1 despite vocal opposition from lawmakers and angry commuters:
Sen. Tony Hwang said, “This fare increase is just another tax on the backs of the working middle class in our state. This added financial burden comes with no additional infrastructure or rail service improvements, and that is unacceptable. It also comes on top of two record-setting tax hikes in five years. Combined with rate increases in utilities and health insurance, this fare increase might just be the last straw that breaks the back of Connecticut taxpayers. That truly is a shame, but I will say this: I was proud to stand alongside state lawmakers, tireless commuter advocates like Jim Cameron, and fed up taxpayers in opposition to this hike. We came together at the fare hike public hearing to send a clear message: No Fare Increases. Our unified, reasonable voice of opposition obviously was not heard by state transportation officials. That’s just terribly disappointing and frustrating, but it won’t deter us from re-doubling our efforts to be a strong, persistent voice for commuters and taxpayers. It will only motivate us to work harder in demanding that the people of Connecticut get heard.”
Rep. Laura Devlin said, “The decision to move ahead with these fare hikes without even acknowledging the opposition of a group of bipartisan legislators and the voices of almost 1,800 individuals these fares would hurt, is incredulous. This is the same arrogance we see in Hartford when it comes to discussing the state’s finances and budget. I can tell you the people I represent have had enough of the never-ending hits they are taking through tax hikes and fees. The majority party and Gov. Malloy need to stop balancing the budget on rosy revenue projections, then being forced to make ill-advised budget decisions when the revenue never ends up meeting what they say want to spend. Not including this increase, Metro North fare hikes have gone up over 20% in recent years with no tangible service improvements or infrastructure investments.”
Rep. Brenda Kupchick said, “We will not let this decision stand unchallenged, I and other legislators plan to propose legislation in January to repeal these rail fare hikes, the people of Fairfield and Southport deserve better than subpar rail service at a higher cost. The proposed fare increase is a direct result of the $37 million in cuts imposed on the DOT by the Malloy administration as part of the 2016-2017 revised state budget that was passed by majority legislators last May.”
Fairfield lawmakers today applauded the approval of state funding for local and regional projects which aim to improve public safety and bolster local infrastructure.
The State Bond Commission on Sep. 30 approved $500,000 for equipment for the renovation project at the Fairfield Regional Fire School and $750,000 for the replacement of 3,000 linear feet of sewer lines in Fairfield.
“I have witnessed firsthand the dangerous job our Fairfield firefighters undertake,” said Rep. Brenda Kupchick. “It is our job as legislators to make sure they receive the proper training. Today’s grant for the Fairfield Regional Fire School provides firefighters with a safe and modern facility to learn the skills we rely on them to deliver to protect our community.”
“The Fairfield Regional Fire School is essential to maintaining the public safety of every resident in the County,” said Rep. Laura Devlin. “As most volunteer and professional firefighters know, fire schools are instrumental in the training of firefighters and I have been very happy to have been a part of moving this matter forward.”
“This equipment for the Regional Fire School will help save lives in a crisis or disaster,” Sen. Tony Hwang said. “Updating our sewer infrastructure is also critical for Fairfield’s economic and community well-being. I weigh every bond item seriously against any budgetary constraints that state and local taxpayers are currently experiencing. Every taxpayer dollar is precious and must be treated as such. That said, I support these solid, long-term investments. They will positively impact our businesses and residents and make our communities safer.”
At the Legislative Office Building Sep. 30, from left to right: Rep. Laura Devlin, Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, Fairfield Fire Department Chief Denis McCarthy, Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Sen. Tony Hwang, Fairfield Fire Department Assistant Chief Chris Tracy, Rep. Brenda Kupchick
FAIRFIELD- State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) along with Reps. Brenda Kupchick and Laura Devlin (R-134) supported a legislative package to keep Sikorsky in Connecticut for another 16 years and shore up thousands of jobs for the region, including over one-hundred Sikorsky employees in the town of Fairfield.
The deal gives Sikorsky $220 million in grants and tax exemptions in exchange for building 200 new Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift cargo helicopters in-state. In return, Sikorsky will be required to expand their workforce to more than 8,000 workers by 2032, increase its capital spending in Connecticut by 22%, and more importantly, double their spending of $350 million per year with Connecticut-based suppliers.
According to the Fairfield legislators, the town of Fairfield has five of the Sikorsky supply-chain companies that will benefit from the CH-53K being built.
These supply-chain companies are the small- and medium-sized businesses that employ hundreds of highly skilled local residents in Fairfield.
Sen. Hwang said, “This deal will save thousands of good manufacturing jobs, keep Sikorsky in Stratford, and benefit scores of Connecticut small businesses in the vendor supply chain. However, it should also serve as a warning to every state lawmaker that the cost of doing business here is much too high. We’ve got to work to make our business climate less expensive and to make our state’s economic policies more predictable, more sustainable, and more transparent. We must get our state’s finances in order. We must lower taxes and eliminate regulations and red tape. Only then can we create the stable ecosystem that all businesses deserve.”
Rep. Devlin said, “Connecticut can NOT afford to bleed any more jobs, especially highly skilled manufacturing jobs. These Sikorsky employees and their families are part of our community and region. I proudly support keeping Sikorsky in Connecticut.”
“Costs for Sikorsky are double in Connecticut vs other states that put us in a situation that required the state to help level the playing field and keep an important company like Sikorsky. Connecticut can be a leader again if the legislature works together to address the structural changes to state government, the mounting debt and uncertainty that’s created an unattractive climate for business. This legislative action was about the saving the jobs of the men and women who work at Sikorsky and those who own and are employed at the supply chains companies across the state,” said Rep. Kupchick.
Right now, calling in a bomb threat, or any kind of threat, to a school is a mere misdemeanor.
The new Oct. 1 law will change that, making such threats felonies which would result in a prison sentence.
“In the more than three years since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, more than 40 threats of violence have been made against schools in Connecticut,” Sen. Hwang said. “Many of those threats have been perpetrated by adults. These threats have become an epidemic, not only in Connecticut, but across the country. This new law sends a message that Connecticut has zero tolerance for school threats.”
In recent months, threats of violence have forced lockdowns of schools in Stamford, Hartford, Fairfield, West Haven and Bristol. Sen. Hwang noted that school lockdowns and evacuations can have lasting consequences on the children and adults who endure them.
The new law received overwhelming bipartisan support and was backed by local school superintendents, law enforcement officials, and parents.
* Sen. Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. He can be reached at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov and at 800 842-1421. On the web: www.SenatorHwang.com
Attached photo: Sen. Hwang with Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe, St. Rose of Lima School parent Maureen Reidy, and Rep. Mitch Bolinsky at a 2015 press conference calling for increased penalties for threats of violence against schools. The new law takes effect Oct. 1.
The Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has honored Sen. Tony Hwang with its “2016 Legislator of the Year” award for his work in the area of public safety.
“In 1980, Candy Lightner, a realtor from California, started Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) after her 13-year-old daughter, Cari, was killed by a drunk driver who had several previous DWI arrests,” Sen. Hwang said. “Thirty-six years later, Connecticut continues to build on what Candy Lightner started in her daughter’s memory. At the State Capitol, I continue to do all I can to work with Democrats and Republicans to make our roads as safe as they can possibly be.”
“Public safety must be our top priority and we need to continue to make Connecticut a national model in this policy area,” Sen. Hwang said. “I am humbled to receive this honor from the Connecticut chapter of MADD.”
Sen. Hwang (www.SenatorHwang.com) represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. He can be reached at 800 842-1421 and at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov .
Attached photo: Cablevision’s “Meet The Leaders” host David Smith (left) with Sen. Tony Hwang during an interview this spring at the State Capitol. The Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has honored Sen. Hwang with its “2016 Legislator of the Year” award for his work in the area of public safety.
Sen. Tony Hwang said The Center for Family Justice’s (CFJ) annual “Speaking of Women” luncheon Tuesday, Sep. 27 at the Waterview in Monroe will put a well-deserved spotlight on the organization’s successful efforts to support victims of domestic and sexual violence.
“Healing and empowering victims into survivors,” Sen. Hwang said. “That’s the common goal at CFJ, and the free, confidential services it provides to people affected by violence in our region are second to none. Day in and day out, the professionals at CFJ make a positive impact in the lives of Connecticut’s most vulnerable residents.”
This year’s luncheon features Nancy Grace, CNN/HLN Legal Affairs Commentator and Victims’ Rights Activist. Corporate sponsors for the event include Verizon and Bigelow Tea.
CFJ completed a $1.2 million expansion this spring. The upgrade includes offices for police and prosecutors, rooms for childcare and client services, and computer stations for clients seeking to build employment skills. The State of Connecticut approved an additional grant of more than $470,000 for further expansion of the center.
“It was a pleasure to give Sen. Hwang a tour of Connecticut’s first Family Justice Center,” CFJ President and CEO Debra A. Greenwood said. “He has long been an unwavering advocate of the thousands of victims of sexual and domestic violence we serve annually in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. We are grateful for his constant and enthusiastic support.”
Recently, Sen. Hwang stood with victims of domestic violence by supporting a new Connecticut law which temporarily removes guns from offenders’ possession while their criminal cases are pending; providing victims with greater protection when they are extremely vulnerable.
Sen. Hwang has also stood with CFJ and Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara as an advocate for the White Ribbon Campaign, encouraging men and boys to join the local and global movement which calls on them to take a stand against domestic and sexual violence.
“CFJ represents a true team effort regarding wellness and victim advocacy,” Sen. Hwang said. “The services range from counseling, shelter, and legal support – and they can all be found under one roof in one safe place. We are all looking forward to an inspiring event on Sep. 27.”
On the web: www.centerforfamilyjustice.org and www.SenatorHwang.com .
Wednesday, September 14th, 2016
University of Connecticut, Stamford Campus, One University Place, Stamford
“Speak now or forever reach deeper into your pocket.”
That’s how my friend Jim Cameron, a tireless advocate for commuters in our region, put it in a call to action against these proposed fare hikes.
I am State Senator Tony Hwang.
And on behalf of the 100,000 residents I represent in Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Westport and Weston, I am speaking out against these fare hikes.
I am speaking out in order to put a stop to the State of Connecticut’s attempt to reach deeper into commuters’ pockets.
I am speaking out on behalf of commuters who have no alternatives other than Metro North. The men and women who ride the train are, as Jim Cameron notes, “a captive audience.”
I am joining with Democrats leaders like Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, who recently noted that “No one is for these hikes.”
I am joining with Republicans like Sen. Toni Boucher, Sen. Scott Frantz, and Rep. Laura Devlin, Rep. Brenda Kupchick.
These lawmakers are all champions for commuters. They agree that this proposal is bad.
I will also continue to push for reforms to help commuters. That includes the re-evaluation and possible re-negotiation of the Metro-North contract.
Because – unfortunately fares will continue to go up and up and up unless we re-evaluate that contract and make reforms and bring back accountability to our transportation infrastructure and service.
Fares will continue to go up and up unless and until we inject more predictability, sustainability and transparency into the system.
I would venture to guess that virtually every commuter in this audience tonight believes that CT DOT will raise fares no matter what we say, how we say it and how many times we repeat our opposition.
You know what that tells me?
That tells me the system is broken.
That tells me that there is no trust or respect for the consumer in the process. And that’s truly a shame.
I would like to offer my strongest support to be a part of the vision and solution moving forward and bring a world class level of transportation infrastructure and service for our valued commuting public.
Attached photo: Sen. Hwang listens to commuter advocate Jim Cameron during the Sep. 14 public hearing in Stamford on the state’s proposed rail fare hikes. Sen. Hwang opposes the hikes.
Sen. Tony Hwang has been recognized by the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters (CTLCV) as a “Legislative Champion” in its 2016 Environmental Scorecard for his work in the Connecticut General Assembly to preserve Connecticut’s waterways and protect the Long Island Sound.
An annual report by the CTLCV, the Environmental Scorecard rates legislators based on their voting record for key pieces of legislation.
Lawmakers were scored on 13 bill votes. Sen. Hwang scored a perfect 100 during the 2016 legislative session in Hartford.
“The Connecticut League of Conservation Voters is widely respected for its bipartisan environmental advocacy, and it is again an honor to receive this recognition,” Sen. Hwang said. “We all want cleaner water and cleaner air. It is an ongoing battle, and I bring that commitment with me to the State Capitol. It is a commitment to improving and protecting our natural resources for future generations to enjoy.”
CTLCV (www.ctlcv.org) is a bipartisan, statewide, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting Connecticut’s environment by making it a priority for our elected leaders. As a legislative watchdog, CTLCV helps to pass laws that protect our air, water, wildlife, open space, and our health.
Sen. Hwang (www.SenatorHwang.com) represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. He can be reached at 800 842-1421 and at Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov .
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