CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY

SENATE

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Senate was called to order at 10: 58 o'clock a. m. , the President in the Chair.

THE CHAIR:

I've been told it's okay to call you all to order.

At this time, I would ask members and guests to

rise, direct your attention to our Acting Rabbi

again, Joel Rudikoff.

ACTING RABBI JOEL RUDIKOFF:

As we begin this Special Session of the Legislature,

we ask that we always be mindful of the respect we

owe to all beings, in our lives and in our work.

And let us all say, Amen.

THE CHAIR:

At this time, I'm going to ask our new grandfather

to lead us in prayer, Senator Looney -- not --

pledge.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

(All) I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

THE CHAIR:

As the Acting Rabbi should have said, mazel tov, Senator Looney. At this time, I'd just ask for points of personal privilege, Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO (34TH):

Thank you, Madam President. First of all, Happy New Year to you and Happy New Year to members and staff of the Chamber, and congratulations to Senator Looney becoming a grandfather for the third time. I'm trying to catch up to him, but he keeps getting ahead of me. Madam President, I rise because last Thursday, Connecticut lost a true legend, someone who has had a remarkable career and a remarkable footprint in Connecticut's history and in New Haven. Coach Carm Cozza passed away at the age of 87. Now, I had the privilege and honor of being coached by Coach Cozza in 1978, 1979 and 1980. And in memory of him, I'm wearing the championship ring that we received in 1980 when we won the championship outright.

Madam President, Coach Cozza has a significant career that you can read about when you look him up. He was a phenomenal athlete. He played professional baseball. He was a phenomenal coach, coaching folks who played in the pros a number of years, John Spagnola, Rich Diana, just the name of Dick Duran, Calvin Hill, and the list goes on and on and on.

I was part of the team when he had his 100th victory against Air Force, someone we were supposed to lose to, but we knew he was coming up on his 100th victory and we squeaked out a win. And he had 179 wins. Most winning coach Yale has ever had. Those are records. But that doesn't tell the true story of Coach Cozza. Carm Cozza was such a gentleman, his teams played 10 to 15 percent better than what

they were statistically and that's because of who he was. He was a father to a lot of the kids on the team. He was a mentor to all of us on the team. He would follow folks who graduated and if they had a problem, or he read about a story, he would call them up and say, “Keep going, I'm with you. Do you need help?” There was a particular football player I played with who was very sick. And was on his deathbed, as it turned out, Carm made calls to specialists across the country who graduated Yale to come down to help this former player out. Unfortunately, he passed. But that's who Carm was. You just didn't just play, and you left and never saw or heard from Coach Cozza, he was always interested in you. And all the teams that he had over the 30, 35 years that he coached, he may not remember every name, although he was pretty good, he remembered what position you played, and he remembered the years that you played.

He had a saying which was, “Have no regrets. ” So, you went out on the football field, his argument was, “Have no regrets. ” Don't walk off that field and say, if I made that block, if I ran a little faster, if I did my assignment, if you lost the game, you went back, and you reminisce and said, if I did that, then we would have won. He said, “Have no regrets. Do the best you can. Play 100 percent. Win or lose, at least you know at the end of the day you could put your head on the pillow and said, I did the best that I could have done. ” And he would always end with, “Go out there and play with no regrets. ” It's something I carry with myself today. Do the best you can, as hard as you can do and where the chips fall they do, but you know inside you did what you could do.

Carm was a family man. Every game his family came to every single game, rain, cold, away, home, it didn't matter, they came to every single game. He was a very religious guy as well. He was someone that was respected not only by his team, but by the coaching industry as a whole. Just two stories, one, he had a terrific sense of humor, terrific sense of humor.

On Sundays we would meet as a team and Coach Cozza would talk to us about the game. So, there was a team, was here, there's the coach and behind him was a box. And inside the box one of the players got inside the box and hid and as Carm was talking, he would poke out like a jack in a box, look down and go back down and we started laughing. Coach Cozza was looking around, trying to figure out what we're laughing. The corner of his eye he caught the player doing that, so he casually went over and sat on the box and the player couldn't get out of the box and he kept pushing it. He knew when to have the humor to break up the intensity.

He's a phenomenal guy. I will miss him, but I will carry with him those values that he instilled in me as a player and those values that I know everybody that ever had the opportunity to play under him will continue to carry inside his soul.

He said one other thing, “When you put on a uniform, it doesn't matter what your economic strata is, it doesn't matter what your background is, it doesn't matter what your race is or what your religion is, you are a team member. And once you put on that uniform, everybody plays as one unit. ” And that is so, so true.

Madam President, he'll be deeply missed in this state and will be deeply missed in the City of New Haven, one place that he truly loved. Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Senator Looney.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Thank you, Madam President. For a point of personal privilege, just following up on Senator Fasano's comments.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Coach Carm Cozza was really an institution not just at Yale, but in the Greater New Haven Community. He was so generous with his time to speak and attend sports banquets and do a lot of things at the request of the high school coaches in and around Greater New Haven, to add prestige to their events and team dinners by being a guest speaker and by just seeing his mission as going far outside the campus of Yale and his duties at Yale, per se, to be a leading citizens in the Greater New Haven community, and that was both during the 32 years that he coached and in the 30 years or in the more than 20 years since his retirement as coach that he's a loss not only to the university, but to the entire Greater New Haven community and really the State of Connecticut, because as Senator Fasano said, he was a model of what coaching and mentorship

should be in the modern age, when unfortunately, we see more bad examples than good.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. At this time, I'd ask that we all stand and give a moment of silence for a great coach and a great person.

Thank you all very, very much. At this time, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. We'll move forward on points a little bit later. The House is paralyzed until we actually move ahead on some of our resolutions. So, we want to make sure that we are continuing to move our business forward.

Madam President, does the Clerk have any business on his desk?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk?

CLERK:

Madam President, the Clerk is in possession of Senate Agenda No. 1, for the January Special Session, dated January 8, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

I thank you, Madam President. I move that all items on Senate Agenda No. 1, dated January 8, 2018, be acted upon as indicated and that the agenda be incorporated by reference of the Senate Journal and transcript.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objections, so approved.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, will the Clerk please call House Joint Resolution No. 401, please?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution No. 401, RESOLUTION CONVENING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN A SPECIAL SESSION ON JANUARY 8, 2018.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Madam President, I move adoption of the resolution and ask leave of the Chamber to summarize.

THE CHAIR:

Motions on adoption and motions on adoption, leave, please proceed, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. This is our standard boilerplate resolution convening us into Special Session and I would ask that the Chamber -- we have to actually vote this on roll call and would ask the Chamber to support it.

THE CHAIR:

Are there any other comments, any other comments? If not, Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote? The machine will be open.

CLERK:

Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. All Senators, please return to the Chamber.

THE CHAIR:

If all members have voted, if all members have voted, the machine -- let's go. If all members have voted, I'll try it again. If all members have voted, the machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call a tally.

CLERK:

TOTAL NUMBER OF VOTING 28

THOSE VOTING YEA 28

THOSE VOTING NAY 0

THOSE ABSENT AND NOT VOTING 8

THE CHAIR:

The resolution passes. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, will the Clerk now please call Senate Resolution 101.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Calling for Senate Agenda No. 1, Senate Resolution 101, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE RULE OF THE SENATE FOR THE JANUARY SPECIAL SESSION, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move adoption.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on acceptance and adoption. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, these are our standard rules in our Special Session. I would ask adoption.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, Mr. Clerk, we can take a voice vote on this one. All of those in favor, please say, aye. Opposed? The motion carries. [Gavel]

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. We now can stand at ease, while we wait business from the House or you can move forward with Senator McLachlan --

THE CHAIR:

We will call on Senator McLachlan for points of personal privilege.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Sure.

THE CHAIR:

Senator McLachlan.

SEN. MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I stand for a point of personal privilege.

THE CHAIR:

Please proceed, sir.

SEN. MCLACHLAN (24TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, Western Connecticut lost a very special citizen, Alexander Sawchyn at age 92. Alexander was a prominent World War II, Korean War Veteran, who was very active in Veteran's affairs in the State of Connecticut.

Alexander was a Veteran of the Berlin Airlift. He took on a task of being a Veteran videographer in the State of Connecticut and interviewed over 100 Veterans, residents of the State of Connecticut, and created documentaries of Veteran's experiences over the last 35 years.

Alexander was also very active in helping to coordinate two flying museums from the Air Force, brought those flying museums to Connecticut and led school children throughout the state see the aircraft of World War II and the Korean War. We are very grateful for the dedication of Alexander Sawchyn to the lives of Veterans in the State of Connecticut and we will sincerely miss him.

Madam President, I ask for a moment of silence in honor of Alexander Sawchyn.

THE CHAIR:

Will the Senate please join us and please stand for a moment of silence, dedicated to a very strong and wonderful Veteran.

Thank you all very, very much. Are there any other points of privilege?

Seeing none, at this time, we'll stand at ease. I'm sorry, Senator Duff, Senator Duff, Senator Duff,

would you like to proceed with the rules at this time?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Certainly.

THE CHAIR:

Senator, Agenda 2. Mr. Clerk, what do you have on your desk?

CLERK:

I have Senate Agenda No. 2, dated Monday, January 8, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you very much.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Madam President, could we just stand at ease for a moment?

THE CHAIR:

Sure, for a moment we can.

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, does the Clerk have Senate Agenda No. 2 on his desk?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk?

CLERK:

Madam President, the Clerk is in possession of Senate Agenda No. 2.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move all items on Senate Agenda No. 2, dated January 8, 2018, to be acted upon as indicated and that the agenda be incorporated by reference of the Senate journal and Senate transcript.

THE CHAIR:

Seeing no objection, so ordered, sir.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would the Clerk call House Joint Resolution No. 402, please.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution 402, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE JOINT RULES OF THE JANUARY SPECIAL SESSION, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on adoption. Will you remark, sir?

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. These are joint rules for our Special Session and I would urge members to vote in favor, by voice.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor, please say, aye. Opposed, the motion carries. Senate Agenda No. 3 is adopted. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Would the Clerk please call House Joint Resolution No. 403?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution 403, RESOLUTION CONCERNING EXPENSES OF THE JANUARY SPECIAL SESSION, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I would urge adoption of House Joint Resolution No. 403.

THE CHAIR: Would you remark further on the resolution? Will you remark further on the resolution? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor, please say, aye. Opposed? The resolution is adopted. [Gavel]

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Would the Clerk please call House Joint Resolution No. 404?

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

House Joint Resolution 404, RESOLUTION CONCERNING THE PRINTING OF THE JOURNALS OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE JANUARY SPECIAL SESSION, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH): Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I would urge adoption of the resolution.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on adoption, will you remark further, sir? The hearing -- you don't want to remark, okay. Anybody else want to remark? If not, I'll try your minds. All those in favor, please say, aye. Opposed? The resolution is adopted. [Gavel]

SENATOR DUFF (25TH): Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I don't think we have Senate Agenda No. 3, yet. So, we will stand at ease please.

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will stand at ease.

(On motion of Senator Duff of the 25th District, the Senate recessed at 11: 14 a. m. to meet again at the Call of the Chair. )

(On motion of Senator Duff of the 25tth District, the Senate reconvened at 12: 15 p. m. , the President in the Chair. )

THE CHAIR:

The Senate will come back to order. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, does the Clerk have Agenda No. 3, please.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Madam President, the Clerk is in possession of Senate Agenda No. 3, dated Monday, January 8, 2018.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Move all items on Senate Agenda No. 3, dated January 8, 2018, to be acted upon as indicated and that the agenda be incorporated by reference of Senate Journal and Senate transcript.

THE CHAIR:

So ordered.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, would the Clerk please now call House Bill 7601, on Senate Agenda No. 3.

THE CHAIR:

Mr. Clerk.

CLERK:

Emergency Certification House Bill 7601, AN ACT CONCERNING ADJUSTMENTS TO THE STATE BUDGET REGARDING THE MEDICARE SAVINGS PROGRAM AND ELIGIBILITY THEREFOR.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I'd like to yield to Senator Osten, who will move adoption of the Emergency Certified Bill.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Osten, will you accept the yield, ma'am?

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Yes, Madam President. Thank you very much and I think it's already good afternoon. It's a pleasure to see you, right after the beginning of this New Year.

THE CHAIR:

This is before the debate during the slings.

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

This is before the debate, yes, I have a broken arm. But having to do with a number of storms that we've had so far, this year, so. Madam President, I move acceptance and passage of the bill in concurrence with the House.

THE CHAIR:

The motion is on acceptance and passage in concurrence. Will you remark, ma'am?

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Yes, I seek leave to summarize. This bill is to support the Medicare Savings Plan and it would be done in the following methodology, $ 19. 4 million will be a reduction in the appropriation for the Teachers' Retirement. $ 17. 8 million would be the elimination of the carry-forward from fiscal year '18 to fiscal year '19. There was a $ 10-million-dollar lapse in OE or other operating expenses. $ 1. 3 million from the DAS Human Services Consolidation Savings and $ 6 million added to the managerial lapse and I would ask my colleagues to support this $ 54. 5-million-dollar appropriation for the Medicare Savings Program funding.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Formica, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President, thank you. I rise in support of this opportunity to kind of move this forward, so that we can provide some relief and some relaxation to some of the people who were affected by this program.

I just have one question, if I may, on the teachers' retirement that, that savings that were based from the actuarial. Thank you, Madam Chair.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Osten, could you --

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

Thank you very much --

THE CHAIR:

-- respond?

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

-- Madam President. Madam President, my colleague to the south of my district and I have worked on a number of these issues and this was a bipartisan realization of savings that was done through the leaders of both of our caucuses, as my understanding. And this $ 19. 4-million-dollars relates to a new valuation that was done on November 15th, and it was determined the state could appropriate $ 19. 396 or $ 19. 4 million less than had been done in Senate Bill 1502, the ultimate budget that passed. It was assumed that this money could be included -- would be included in the Governor's holdback plan, it did not, so, it left that money available for this particular savings program. And that is exactly where this $ 19. 4 comes from. Through you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Senator Formica.

SENATOR FORMICA (20TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Madam Chair. And I appreciate that explanation, I just thought it would important to have that filled out. I stand in support of this opportunity. We know we have our work cut out for us moving forward with regard to mitigation, but this solves an immediate problem and I urge my colleagues' adoption. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Winfield, good afternoon, sir.

SENATOR WINFIELD (10TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. So, Madam President, I rise. I am someone who wants to vote for this, but I will be voting against this. I think, first I want to thank the leaders for coming together. This is a problem that I think anybody in this circle, if you walked anywhere in your district, you heard about, I know I certainly did. I happen to have scheduled to do some community meetings after we passed the budget, and it was topic number one. So, I want a fix. But when I think about the monies that are coming out of the teachers' pension, I think about the issues we talked about having with that pension system. And I know that in the future, we're going to be doing everything in our power to figure out how to deal with the problems that we have coming down the road.

And so, while understanding how you can have a conversation about an extra payment or however you characterize it, to my mind, there is no such thing as an extra payment. And the problems that we have with that system will be problems not only for the

teachers, but for everyone in this state. And I also wonder how we actually get to the additional $ 6-million-dollars that we're talking about in the management account. And so, for those reasons, I think that -- listen, I'm glad that the seniors will get relief. I'm sure I will have to explain my vote to the seniors in my district, but I think that we have some serious problems coming down the road and doing what we're doing here today does nothing to make those problems better and creates problems not only for our seniors or not only for our teachers, but for every single one of us in this state. So, thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Bye, good afternoon, ma'am.

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President, how are you?

THE CHAIR:

Good. And yourself?

SENATOR BYE (5TH):

Good, thank you. I'd like to start by thanking the leadership for their work on this. I went throughout my town, talked to several groups of seniors. And I think I give them a big thank you for their advocacy efforts. They reminded every Senator here that Connecticut is different. We don't give the same quality healthcare to our seniors. We give better healthcare to our seniors

and they said to us, this is critical for us. I think the stories we heard, all of us heard stories, are a very important reminder about how important healthcare is, how important government is and how fragile our seniors' grip on economic security it. Because this change to their healthcare had them wondering how they were going to pay for their pharmacy bills and their heating bill. How could they get by? This is a life-sustaining benefit for seniors and it's just a reminder about the things we vote on in this circle and what they mean to people.

So, I will be voting, yes, but I will be doing it in a way where I feel frustrated. Pleased to help the seniors, but frustrated that this fix wasn't part of a broader fix. That we took this as part of the deficit mitigation plan that Republicans, Democrats, and the Governor would have sat down together and used this reminder from seniors that we need our budget balanced, that we need to provide critical services and we need to do it in a way that is Connecticut, taking care of people.

I have my frustrations about the funds coming from the teacher payments, I understand it's a lapse and it wasn't being counted on. But try telling that to the hundreds of teachers who have written me to say, you said you didn't increase taxes, but you increased my taxes. And now, we're using this to solve the seniors' healthcare problem. So, just think as a body we should have done this as a single unit, all of working together, Republicans, Democrats and the Governor and as a state said, “We fixed our deficit. ” Instead, we're doing a piece of it and we're fixing the MSP and I'm glad for that.

But I just wanted to say on the record that I'm concerned that by not doing the whole deficit mitigation that we may not get there on everything. And then what will we do? Rely on the rainy-day fund, instead of take care of the bigger problem. So, I will vote, yes, will all those faces of the seniors in front of me, who took time to come see me, who I went to visit, who I called at least 50 and spoke with them on the phone, who were so scared and frightened. I hope that after today, they will be less frightened.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Will you remark further? Senator Suzio.

SENATOR SUZIO (13TH):

Thank you, Madam President. I rise in support of the proposed bill. I just want to say a couple of things very quickly. In my district alone, in the City of Meriden, there were over 2,000 senior citizens who were affected by the cut-back in the support or the subsidy for the Medicare Savings Program. So, it's not an insignificant part of the population that does rely on the subsidy. I received, I don't know how many emails, countless emails and I did have a meeting with one group of seniors that was over 100 at the senior center in Meriden to discuss this with them. And the anxiety and the concern that they had was great and it's understandable because most of them are on fixed incomes that are very tightly balanced against other needs.

And also, I think this particular issue is a reminder that we're going to have to be very careful with the state's budget being as tight as it is as to what our priorities are going to be when we do decide where we're cutting because of revenue issues. And clearly, we want to mitigate any kind of harm or damage done to our most vulnerable populations, including our senior citizens as well as the disabled and other various groups of people who rely heavily on state programs or state subsidies.

So, again, I rise in support of the bill, but I hope that we learn a lesson from it that we'll be very careful the next time we meet to balance the budget and we're very careful about establishing what our priorities are and who's affected by the cuts that are necessary because of the revenue constraints.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Flexer, good afternoon, ma'am.

SENATOR FLEXER (29TH):

Good afternoon, Madam President. Madam President, I'd like to begin my remarks on this bill by first of all thanking the seniors. Thousands of seniors across the State of Connecticut picked up their phones, picked up their computers and emailed and called us and showed up at our office hours and demonstrated how devastating it was to them to eliminate the supports in the Medicare Savings

Program. They're the ones that made the difference. They're the ones that brought us here today. For the three years that I've been privileged to serve in this Chamber, there's been debates to cut this program from many different corners. And I have been lucky to fight this proposal for years and was disappointed that in October we decided to move forward with this change.

But I am so grateful to the seniors who live on a fixed income, who came forward and said, “Hey, I make $ 1,500 a month, my husband and I. How are we supposed to pay these premiums?” I really appreciate the one grandmother who called me and said, “I don't know how I'm going to afford to buy Christmas presents for my grandkids now that I'm going to have to pay this?”

I don't think enough people in this Chamber and in the other Chamber understood what this support meant to so many seniors. And frankly, what it's like to live on those levels of fixed incomes. I'm proud that now it's very clear that every member of the House and every member of the Senate understands how valuable this program is to these seniors. And how, as Senator Bye said, this program is what makes Connecticut different.

We often hear a narrative that Connecticut spends too much money, but we spend money on programs like this because we value our seniors and we believe they ought to be able to afford quality healthcare and that the state should step up and help seniors on a fixed income pay these premiums so that they can maintain their healthcare coverage.

This is an example of what makes us different as a state. It's one of the most generous benefits available in the country and I'm proud that we all now agree that this benefit needs to stay in place.

I want to thank the leaders for bringing us here today and coming up with a solution to make sure that these seniors don't have to be nervous about the future of this program. But I am concerned that this solution is not sustainable. I don't believe it's fiscally sound the way that we're solving this problem and I'm concerned that we're giving seniors some security in the short-term, but what are we going to do next year? And what are we going to do the year after that?

I hope that since we've come up with a bipartisan bill before us today that we will continue to work together in a bipartisan fashion to mitigate the deficit in a responsible way, so that seniors can have confidence that Connecticut will continue to have this robust Medicare Savings Program to support their healthcare needs and I thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator. Will you remark further? Senator Leone.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

Thank you, Madam President, it's good to see you and Happy New Year as well.

THE CHAIR:

Happy New Year to you, sir.

SENATOR LEONE (27TH):

I rise also to support the proposal in front of us for many of the same comments that have been made around the circle. Specifically, our seniors are just too critical part of our population for us to turn our backs on them and not give them the structure that they need so that they can survive.

And given the fiscal situation that we're facing, it's nice to hear that we still have this bipartisanship to move forward on protecting our seniors. What I would hope is that bipartisanship continues going forward, as we're going to face many of the challenges going forward, specifically the Teachers' Retirement as well as many of the other endeavors. And so, we're going to have to look at all this holistically.

And what I would like for us to walk away with is to use today's example of how government has a role to play in peoples lives that when we just say we're going to cut and cut and cut and cut, there are repercussions. And when this proposal was passed, only a few weeks ago really, we have now very quickly realized the impact of that in just this one category. And we realize that it was not the right thing to do. Nor should it be the right thing to do in the future.

So, we are going to have to really tighten our belts, but we're also going to have to be open to multiple solutions to tackle the issues the State of Connecticut is facing. This is not a one-solution fixes all the problems. We cannot get away from that. And so, we're going to have to be open to the situation that there's going to be other solutions that both sides are going to have to consider. And

I sure hope that both sides do consider other solutions because otherwise we will be back here facing one issue at a time, dealing with the situation that very quickly can become political. And protecting our seniors and our most vulnerable should not be political, it should be because we do the right thing.

And so, I hope that as we move forward in doing the right thing today, that it continues down the road. Thank you, Madam.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you, Senator Leone. Senator Osten, why do you rise, ma'am?

SENATOR OSTEN (19TH):

I just wanted to make sure that we were going to have a roll call vote.

THE CHAIR:

Oh, don't worry, you will. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I stand in support of the emergency certified bill today and I wanted to also thank members of the circle here for their help and their work in getting us here today. And to make sure that everybody does understand that this is a one step in a process that we have working on our fiscal issues and challenges and ensuring that we're still taking care of the people here in the State of Connecticut.

I think many people may not have understood the importance of the Medicare Savings Program until it was changed in the state budget. Lots of times I think people look at things as numbers, but they don't always necessarily look at the impact that it may have on particular people. And then we did understand that actually, once we started hearing from seniors in our district. And that they became engaged and contacting their legislators and then we were able to make some changes to them.

Is this perfect? Absolutely not, but I think it does give people, seniors across the State of Connecticut a peace of mind when it comes to at least knowing that they would have this benefit that had, quite frankly, been on the chopping block for a number of years in various proposals that have been around the State Capitol. So, I do know and recognize that again this is part of a process. We still have a deficit mitigation that we may have to deal with, despite some of the news that we've heard earlier today from the Governor's office.

We have to make sure we're continuing to work together to meet our challenges and our long-term obligations and that that means that we all still have to sit at the table together, working side-by-side in a bipartisan way, as we have, to meet the needs for the residents of the State of Connecticut. But I also do want to again thank members of the circle, Senator Looney, the leadership on both sides of the aisle and members for their work. And again thank seniors who received the letters that they received, yet took it upon themselves to make sure that they contacted the legislators. And as I say very often that when people speak, we act. And we did, and we have to because we know that again, this

is not just a number in a budget, these are real people who rely on this program that we have, and I think everybody in this circle has realized that, if they didn't realize that before.

So, again, thank you, Madam President for your work and your leadership as well and I urge the Chamber to support the bill. Thank you.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? Senator Looney.

SENATOR LOONEY (11TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I rise in support of the passage of House Bill 7601 in concurrence with the House of Representatives and I believe it is the right response for us to take today on a bipartisan basis, just as we passed the underlying budget on a bipartisan basis. I think that represented, I think, a consensus of responsible policy for the state as does this modification in the budget, as pointed out by Senator Bye and Senator Flexer and others.

What is reflected here is the fact that in many cases, the people of Connecticut and in this case, specifically, seniors, expect actually a higher level of benefit and are supportive of that more than whatever the national standard is in a particular area. What was reflected in the budget was an element from the Governor's original proposal back in February had been suggested in the Appropriations Committee over a number of years, generally on the Republican side was to make this

change. As a matter of policy to have Connecticut reflect a national standard in what the level of benefit is under this. So, the proposal in the original budget would have reflected the national consensus on what the levels of benefit should be on this issue. But as we see, the people of Connecticut expect, regardless of budgetary circumstances, a higher level of government support in this area because that the needs of seniors who are struggling with marginal levels of income. So, the 113,000-people affected by this means more than 3,000 in the average state senate district and it is a substantial concern. But I think in terms of process, the restoration that we are doing here is the responsible thing to do. It is something that was agreed to in a bipartisan way, just as the underlying budget was. And I think that is an indicator of the fact that there has been a coming together in a consensus way of trying to deal with our state's ongoing fiscal challenges in a way that reflects an effort at good governance in a bipartisan way.

And I think the change that we are recommending today reflects our responsiveness to a genuine level of public concern and anguish on the part of people whose, the impact on whom would have been severe. Obviously, there would be some people under the original proposal who would have lost a part of the benefit they had previously enjoyed, some would have lost more than a part in adopting a national standard.

I think this is, as was pointed out, really in many ways a lesson for us that Connecticut is a state that supports generally and expects more than what the national mean is in benefits in social service programs.

And for that reason, Madam President, I would urge support and I think also it's important, I think, to reflect that since the budget was adopted as a consensus act by statute, it is appropriate for us by a statutory change to make this adjustment under the Affirmative Act of the General Assembly.

Thank you, Madam President.

THE CHAIR:

Thank you. Will you remark further? Will you remark further? If not, staff and guests -- I mean, okay. Mr. Clerk, will you call for a roll call vote? The machine will be open. Thank you.

CLERK:

Immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. An immediate roll call has been ordered in the Senate. All Senators please return to the Chamber.

THE CHAIR:

If all people have voted, if all people have voted, the machine will be closed. Mr. Clerk, will you please call the tally.

CLERK:

Total Number of Voting 33

Those Voting Yea 32

Those Voting Nay 1

Those absent and not voting 3

THE CHAIR:

The bill is passed. Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Before we adjourn, I will yield to any points of personal privilege or announcements.

THE CHAIR:

Any other points of personal privilege? Are there any other points of personal privilege? No. Seeing none, Senator Duff.

SENATOR DUFF (25TH):

Thank you, Madam President. Madam President, I move that we adjourn Sine Die.

THE CHAIR:

Sine Die it is. [Gavel]

(On motion of Senator Duff of the 25th, the Senate at 12: 43 p. m. adjourned Sine Die. )

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