Norm Needleman on the New Year
As 2021 draws to a close, many of us are probably saying the same thing we did last year: ‘good riddance, bring the next one’. To say that this past year has been difficult would be an understatement. While a lot has changed for the better – the majority of our state is protected from the worst consequences of COVID-19, our economy is recovering day by day, and Connecticut is well positioned for future success – it can be easy to dismiss 2021 as a difficult year. This is not entirely true, however.
I will remember 2021 as a year full of legislative successes. In particular, the bipartisan budget adopted in June was forward thinking, supporting our state in the present while planning for the future. In addition to increasing local funding for education and support for nonprofits with funding of $ 110 million, my colleagues and I were able to increase the earned income tax credit. That means about 195,000 Connecticut households will see $ 40 million in combined income go back to their pockets. All of this happened without any tax increases, with the state’s rainy day fund rising to $ 3.1 billion and a payment of $ 1.6 billion on the long-term debt of the ‘State – which reinforce the state’s orientation towards the future.
Even though it did happen in 2020, Eversource’s unacceptable response to Tropical Storm Isaias remained in our minds, and threats of further utility price hikes, such as a monthly data cap proposed by Comcast, were getting worse. In addition to stopping the data cap this year, I’ve led the charge to hold Eversource accountable, with the Take Back Our Grid Act requiring return to customers during extended outages and imposing certain levels of staff to support a recovery. faster storms. Additionally, this year I led the approval of legislation that will prevent third-party power providers from overloading some customers and increase adoption of electric power storage to better support our power grid and reduce pressure. caused by bad weather on our electricity grid.
While the economy has rebounded from 2020, this recovery has been uneven and many people are likely still struggling as a result of the pandemic. My colleagues and I have taken action on this issue as well, recognizing that we must now focus on the future of Connecticut to support our economy. Among the actions we have undertaken: the development of a working group on the tourism industry to stimulate the hiring of this industry; reform of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to better stabilize the business market; expanding research and development tax credits for the biosciences, manufacturing and engineering; and expanded labor pipeline training, which has supported regional employment growth in manufacturing well above national and national averages.
As we prepare to close the book on 2021 and move on to next year, I’ll stay focused on the future of Connecticut. Although challenges remain in our way, our state is poised for great recovery and great strength, as long as we continue to work together towards this goal. I wish everyone happy holidays and a happy new year. If we coordinate and cooperate, 2022 has the potential to complete Connecticut’s meteoric comeback.
State Senator Norm Needleman, D-Essex