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Political Scene




Reps. Piscopo, Wilson Unveil
Revised No-Tax-Increase Budget Proposal
State Representatives John Piscopo (R-76) and David Wilson (R-66) joined their House Republican colleagues last week to issue their revised no-tax-increase budget for 2018-19 that eliminates the projected $5 billion budget deficit, increases school funding for all towns, reduces the corporate surcharge and mitigates municipal aid losses by reallocating funds.
 
It is time for leadership in this state and my House Republican colleagues and I are ready to lead. This is a budget that does exactly what taxpayers continue to ask for - it DOES NOT raise taxes and it closes our ballooning $5.1 billion state budget deficit. It does not increase our state spending and caps our state borrowing, while holding our towns and municipalities harmless and increasing educational funding. I am hopeful that the majority party democrats and the governor's office will consider our proposal as the taxpayers of Connecticut cannot afford one more penny in tax increases,” said Rep. Piscopo.
 
Under our House Republican budget proposal, the 66th district will see an increase in education funding in the coming biennium, as opposed to the governor's proposed budget, which cuts current educational funding levels by $2.8 million each year for the next two years. Taxpayers deserve better and I will continue to fight for educational funding for our district," said Rep. Wilson.
 
In this current proposal, Republicans revert back to the former Education Cost Sharing formula, while also adding $20 million to the distribution.  In addition, the proposal establishes a $90 million grant in order to ensure that no municipality loses aid compared to the current fiscal year.
 
Other structural changes include:
- Implements a strict Constitutional Spending Cap
- Reduces bond issuance cap from $2 billion to $1.3 billion for each fiscal year
- Ensures municipalities are held harmless
- Establishes a wage freeze for state employees, but no layoffs
 
Republicans now join Democrats and Gov. Malloy at the negotiating table to come up with a final budget plan that can pass both the House and Senate. For more information on the House Republican budget proposal, please visit www.cthousegop.com/budget.
 
 
Esty-Bost Bill to Reduce VA Appeals Backlog Passes House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, a bill authored jointly by Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) and Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), today (Tuesday, May 23, 2017) passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 418-0.
 
 
To watch Esty’s floor remarks, click the image above or visit https://youtu.be/11a3PgcxjEc.
 
The bill modernizes the appeals process at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cut down on the claims backlog and reduce delays. Under the current system, veterans must often wait five years or longer for their appeals to be resolved. If the Esty-Bost legislation becomes law, it will mark the first significant update to the VA appeals process in 30 years.
 
There are 470,000 pending appeals nationwide, including 1,425 just in the greater Hartford area.
 
Esty is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs. Bost is the Subcommittee’s Chairman.
 
“Because of the enormous appeals backlog, veterans in Connecticut and across the country are routinely made to wait more than five years to receive the benefits they earned,” Esty said. “That’s just not acceptable. Our bill to cut down on these delays is the result of thoughtful collaboration among Republicans, Democrats, veteran service organizations, and the VA itself. It’s heartening to see our bill pass the House with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Today, we are one step closer to providing all veterans with the timely compensation they deserve for the injuries they sustained in service to our country.”
 
“I appreciate my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for supporting this long overdue legislation to help fix the VA’s broken appeals process and backlog,” Bost said. “Our heroes deserve rapid access to quality care, and that begins with having their appeals decided in a timely manner. I encourage the U.S. Senate to take up this legislation as soon as possible.”
 
“It’s very apparent that Congresswoman Esty is working tirelessly to see that all veterans have access to the benefits they so desperately need and deserve,” said Peter Scirpo, Chairman of the New Britain Veterans Commission and an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan. “It is so important to make sure all veterans get back what they earned.”
 
The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act of 2017 would create three “lanes” for veterans’ appeals, including the “Local Higher Level Review Lane” in which an adjudicator reviews the same evidence considered by the original claims processor; the “New Evidence Lane,” in which the veteran could submit new evidence for review and have a hearing; and the “Board Lane,” in which jurisdiction for the appeal would transfer immediately to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.
 
The bill would give the Secretary the authority to test the new system prior to full implementation and would allow some veterans already going through the appeals process to opt into the new system. It would also require VA to provide a comprehensive plan for how the new system will be implemented and a subsequent certification by the Secretary that the department is prepared to roll-out the reform. Lastly, the bill would require the Secretary to submit periodic reports to Congress, including information on how many appeals are pending in both the modernized system and the legacy system.
 
This legislation was sponsored by every member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Click here for more information. Read the bill text here.
 
 
Litchfield Republican Town Committee 
Seeks Candidates for Upcoming Elections
Have you ever thought about running for a town Board? Perhaps you know someone who has mentioned that they might be interested in giving back to the community. Now is the time to ask questions and talk to someone about your interest.
 
The Litchfield Republican Town Committee is currently searching for local Republicans to run in the 2017 town election. All Town Elected positions such as Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning are up for election this November.  If you or know of someone who may be interested please contact Hugh Schoelzel at 860-567-8518 or Helen Bunnell at 860-567-9576.  All candidates who have an interest in making positive change in our community will be considered.
 
 
Litchfield Democrats seeking candidates for November
The Litchfield Democratic Town Committee is looking for candidates for the upcoming municipal elections on November 7th. Candidates are being sought for the following offices: First Selectman, Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Board of Education, Planning & Zoning, Board of Assessment Appeals, Town Treasurer and Tax Collector. Candidates must be residents and registered voters in the Town of Litchfield.
 
A nominating convention for all candidates will be held on Wednesday, July 19th at 7:30 p.m. at La Cupola's Restaurant, 637 Bantam Road, Litchfield. For further information contact Joe Manes, Chairman of the nominating committee at 860-482-3732.
 
 
Esty Calls on House to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan 
Esty: ‘At the end of the day, infrastructure is about jobs’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a speech on the House floor, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), the Vice Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, called on her colleagues to come together and pass a bipartisan plan to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure.
 
“There is no better time than now, and there is no better place than here, the People’s House, for us to take up this call,” Esty said. “Because at the end of the day, infrastructure is about jobs. It’s about putting people to work right now, replacing those bridges, and roads, and dams, and airports, and rails. But more importantly, it’s about getting people to work safely and on time.”
 
Esty then spoke about specific areas of our national infrastructure in need of improvement, including roads, bridges, rail, airports, clean water, wastewater, and internet connectivity.
 
 
“We should make no mistake – this country became great, it was transformed, by the interstate highway system, literally linking America from end to end,” Esty said. “But we cannot expect, nor should we think, that the basic public infrastructure of America is going to be able to be outsourced to financiers in New York City. If that were the case they would have already done it. These are basic public works that need real dollar investments, and I can assure the administration there are many of us in Congress who are ready to move forward with that.”
 
 
U.S. Rep. Esty pays a visit to officials in Goshen
Litchfield.bz (03-26-17)
 
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty holds a town hall meeting in Goshen on Saturday. BZ photos

Some of the most pressing issues facing the country were discussed during a town hall meeting U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty hosted at Goshen Town Hall on Saturday.

The Goshen Public Library organized the meeting, which drew the likes of First Selectman Robert P. Valentine, library director Lynn Steinmayer, library board of directors Chairman Patrick Reilly, Amy Tobin of the Goshen Business Circle, and Janet Hooper of the Goshen Community Garden.

Issues discussed included health care, transportation infrastructure, renewable energy, and immigration policy. Reilly expressed concern about a loss of federal funding for the arts and humanities, as well as for nonprofit organizations like ones serving Goshen.

"If that money dries up, there's no way the town can fund the services those organizations provide," Reilly said.

Esty agreed and said a bipartisan approach by Congress is the only way the major issues afftecting the country like health care and immigration can be resolved. She said she believes President Trump's temporary travel ban affecting six Muslim countries will have to be decided by the Supreme Court.

"We have to be vigilant about who we're letting into the country, but the ban was framed in a way that incites anger in certain countries and resentment towards the U.S.," Esty said. "That's the way it is perceived."

Discussion also touched on tourism in the northwest corner and its importance to towns like Goshen.

"How do we grow on what we have here?" asked Tobin.

Esty said towns have to figure out ways to increase awareness of the area's offerings so more tourists would be drawn here. More tourists would benefit local businesses.

"There is a real opportunity for the northwest corner to do some branding," she said. "It's one of the most beautiful parts of the country, so it's important for towns to collectively looks at ways to prompote what is here."

Below, Goshen First Selectman Robert P. Valentine comments during the town hall meeting. Looking on is Janet Hooper of the Goshen Community Garden.

 
 
State Rep. Wilson gains insight on maple syrup
Litchfield.bz (03-26-17)
 
State Rep. David T. Wilson, R-Litchfield, center, listens as Mark Harran, left, owner of Brookside Farm II in Litchfield, talks about his maple syrup-producing operation at the farm on Saturday. To the right is John Langer of Bantam, who works at the farm.

Below, Wilson and Langer check out the farm's new bourbon maple syrup product. Wilson visited the farm to learn about maple syrup production and to express support for small business. BZ photos