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Rodgerson calls out Lavielle, GOP on senior issues

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.

WILTON, Conn – Keith Rodgerson issued a “seniors rights” platform statement Tuesday in a bid to position himself as the leading advocate for seniors in the race for the 143rd District seat in the General Assembly.

Rodgerson, a Democrat, is challenging two-term incumbent Republican Gail Lavielle for the seat, which represents parts of Norwalk, Wilton and Westport. Both candidates live in Wilton.

The two will debate at 7 tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 8) at Westport Town Hall.

Rodgerson said in his emailed remarks that senior citizens are having a tough time making ends meet in Connecticut.

“I’ve watched two generations of my Connecticut grandparents struggle with their small businesses, housing, healthcare, and retirement challenges. There are pervasive forces at work in the Connecticut legislature that seek to degrade our quality of life and that threaten senior access to housing, medication, retirement and health care,” Rodgerson stated. “We need a representative who can provide real relief for our seniors in Hartford.”

Rodgerson also cited what he said is the negative impact of “special interest groups and regressive social agendas on the livelihoods of our senior population.”

“Sen. (Toni) Boucher and State Rep Lavielle have intervened on behalf of special interests in between medical decisions of doctors and senior patients,” Rodgerson alleged. “Our legislators must allow doctors and seniors to chart the best course for access to medication for glaucoma, arthritis and cancer treatment. We cannot allow our legislators to upend the needs of seniors due to the needs of pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists. Our greatest generation deserves better than that.”

Retirement security, Rodgerson said, is a topic of concern to many seniors he has met on the campaign trail.

“The Connecticut GOP has near-universally panned the Public Retirement Plan as currently being designed by the Connecticut Retirement Security Board. Our legislators must support this program, which provides for a guaranteed rate of return, low administrative fees, be universally available, and cannot cause a liability on either the state or employers.”

Rodgerson said he is committed to supporting the legislative stabilization of retirement in Connecticut in 2015.

Another issue that resonates in the district is estate tax reform, said Rodgerson.

“We need to build a coalition around this issue. It has been unreasonable for Rep. Lavielle to call for its failed repeal four years in a row. We need to find common ground so that families can transfer wealth to successive generations of Connecticut residents for college education, charitable contributions, job creation and the sustainability of our robust Connecticut economy.

Asked to respond, Lavielle agreed that retirees have numerous concerns, but she stopped short of committing to any specifics.

“For the past few years, Connecticut has been consistently ranked by organizations like Kiplinger as one of the worst places in the country to retire, due mainly to its high combined taxes on pensions, Social Security, real estate, cars, sales, gasoline, and inheritance,” she said. “Many seniors are struggling to get by financially, while others with greater resources are planning moves to other states, if they haven’t moved already. Many of them tell me that reducing the tax burden, particularly taxes on pensions and Social Security, is their top priority.”

Rodgerson added that, “We also cannot have legislators who are against the transit-oriented housing densities our seniors need.”

Lavielle agreed that transit was high on the list of senior concerns.

“Other important priorities that seniors in our district have discussed with me are: convenient, safe, and reliable transit for those who no longer drive, shifting funding from nursing homes to community – and home-based care to help senior citizens stay in their homes, and affordable senior housing near transit when possible.”

The bottom line, Lavielle said, is taxes.

“Senior citizens have been particularly hard hit by rising state taxes, and many worry that they cannot afford to stay in Connecticut,” she said. “This is why putting the state’s financial house in order is the number one issue facing the General Assembly. Unless the state reduces its spending and borrowing levels, they will continue to outpace revenues, and the tax pressure on residents will continue to grow.”

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