Serving these past four years as your State Representative has been an incredible honor. Public service is part of who I am. After 15 years in Norwalk City Government, I learned that I like to govern and fix problems. I am also good at working with others regardless of political party. So the legislative atmosphere these past four years felt comfortable; I got a lot accomplished because of the close balance of power between Republicans and Democrats.
Below are some of the highlights:
- Implementing Structural Changes in the State’s finances. In 2017, we passed the first Republican budget in over 30 years. Eventually this became the bipartisan budget, which implemented – for the first time – real structural reforms. This included no new taxes, no tax increases, an honest balanced budget, a spending cap, a borrowing cap, mandatory legislative votes on union contracts and over $1 billion into the Rainy Day Fund. Furthermore, the Medicare Savings Program was protected. As a key member of the Appropriations Committee, I am proud of the role I played.
- Reforming the Educational Cost Sharing formula. For the first time in decades we passed ECS reform that benefits Norwalk. My very first bill in 2015 was for ECS reform. Hitting brick walls, I kept trying. So in 2017, I teamed up with Democrat Representative Bruce Morris and successfully saw much of our bill passed into law via the budget.
- Fixing our Transportation woes. While many transportation problems remain, I am proud of two actions. Last year we got the car sales tax allocated to the Special Transportation Fund. Using these existing revenues for a new purpose prevented fare hikes, protected the New Canaan train line and restored many of Norwalk’s bus services. I supported the Lockbox, which ensures transportation funds are used only for transportation projects.
- Updating old laws to keep pace with new technologies. I co-sponsored groundbreaking legislation for Ride Sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft; this allows them to thrive in Connecticut while also protecting consumers. As our society becomes more e-based, I co-sponsored bills for electronic notification of legislators, electronic insurance ID cards and expanded uses of Tele-health services.
- Protecting those ravaged by addictions. I was proud to co-sponsor legislation that fights the Opioid epidemic. Last year over 1,000 people died from heroin/fentanyl overdoses. Separately, as we rush to expand gambling, I spoke up on behalf of the 5% of adults ravaged by gambling addiction. I consistently proposed allocating 5% of gambling revenues to the gamblers recovery fund.
- Assisting those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our co-sponsored bills provided additional resources and training.
The most gratifying aspect of my role was in helping many of you. My caucus got Medicaid coverages restored, reinstated medical prescription assistance and lowered electric bills for homeowners. However, my happiest memories were hosting the Norwalk and New Canaan fourth grade field trips to the Capitol. On the House floor our kids asked great questions and we all had lots of fun voting to extend school vacations!
Of course, I wish the results of the November 2018 election had been different. I will miss my colleagues, my hardworking staff, serving on committees – and amazingly even those late nights at the end of Session!
However, life moves forward and the only wise choice is to embrace it. I wish success for Lucy Dathan. For me, I will simply look for new ways to serve. I hope to see many of you in the coming months. Please know that I am always available to you as a resource.
Clarification 4:10 p.m.: Post updated to show that Fred Wilms’s last day as State Representative is Tuesday.