Letter to the Editor

by State Rep. Ben McGorty, 122nd District

Connecticut House Republicans were recently joined by residents, local officials and law enforcement from across our state in calling for legislative action to address youth car thefts and break-ins across our state.

Although state lawmakers were swift to pass a hastily-written, far-reaching 300-page marijuana legalization bill during a one-day special session this summer, we have still yet to see any willingness from the other side of the aisle to address the more than 6,000 cases of residents who reported a car stolen since the start of 2020.

House Republicans Call for Special Session to Curb Car Thefts.  Our residents demand, and rightfully deserve, legislative action to fix CT’s broken juvenile justice laws before our communities see any additional deaths, like in the most recent case in New Britain.

With the legislature in recess, I and my Republican colleagues have begun circulating a petition to immediately summon state lawmakers back to the Capitol to get to work on this issue. This can be done with signatures from a majority of State Senators and Representatives, or by the Governor himself, and could be done in a matter of days.

I will continue to call on my colleagues in the House of Representatives to support common-sense proposals to prevent youth recidivism and protect victims of crime in the state of Connecticut.

In other news, the state’s sudden and hasty rollout of marijuana legalization could create conflict with some of its largest employers.

Following the scheduled legalization of adult use and possession of marijuana on July 1st, Connecticut’s largest employers in the defense manufacturing industry – including Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft – have found themselves with little guidance on how to comply with the new law.

Possession of marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and businesses like Sikorsky that hold federal contracts must comply with drug-free workplace requirements that will likely be complicated Connecticut’s new policies on recreational use.

I will make sure to keep you updated on a possible special session in the weeks to come. As always, feel free to contact me should you have any questions or issues.

Big Bang Consideration

Think Before Setting off Fireworks

By Lina Karo

This Fourth of July. Just a thought for this upcoming independence day. Not here to ruffle feathers but we live in a community so we all need to listen to others once in a while with our ears instead of our mouths.

Each of one of us, no matter what age, participates in a social ecosystem. I understand the excitement to set off fireworks and the celebrations but there is something we should all try to be more aware of in our neighborhoods. When you set them off in residential areas, you are disturbing the safety & security of pets, neighbors, and wild animals.

I know we live in a free country. Everyone pays to have homes where we can feel independent and do as we please. So do people with trauma disorders. So do veterans, mothers with newborns, children with anxiety and those just plain afraid of gunshots & fireworks. You are triggering animals and human beings.

If you have the luxury of having fireworks than you also have the privilege to make a choice. A better choice. Instead of creating painful disturbances and causing a toxic environment, you can always donate that money, time, energy to animals or people in need. Just a suggestion and a reminder.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Monobia Quadridens

by Angela Capinera
yourmindinbloom@yahoo.com

What else to do with yourself when you are inbetween errands and clients and are desperately drinking a large coffee because you didn’t sleep the night before? Stop at the Shakespeare Grounds on Elm Street on an impulse and see what wildlife can be found.

I stopped there one Monday morning this past August (2020) and did just that. I’d recently learned about the Seek app through a UConn program I was participating in and was stopping places just to see what I could find using the app.

How many times do we walk by something and think, uh, another flower? Uh, another bunch of leaves, uh, another weed, uh, another brown stalk of something I-don’t-know-the-name-for? We are blessed with some pretty interesting species here in Stratford both migrating through and year round. One of the year rounders is the Four-toothed Mason Wasp and I saw my first live one that Monday morning. Now, when I tell you where, please don’t go and kill everything in sight. All creatures have a right to their home and safety as much as we do, especially when they are outside and there is plenty of room for them and us humans.
The Four-toothed Mason Wasp, or Monobia Quadridens, was along the driveway in the back. For those who like to dissect what they are reading, Monobia means Mason or Potter Wasp and Quad is “four” and riden is “having teeth”. They sure do.

I spotted it not because of the black body and ivory colored band across its body, yet due to the rather dead green caterpillar dangling from its mouth. Had it not been for the dead caterpillar, I would have blinked and moved on to seeing what plants are among the hefty vegetation. Monobia Quadridens was among the vegetation near the back entrance. I spent quite a few minutes watching it. It moved out of the vegetation, across the cement, and into another patch of vegetation. I followed it and watched it drag the dead caterpillar up a broken stalk of marsh grass and then back down the same stalk and then under a patch of dead vegetation and disappear. I wasn’t going to poke around and try to find it.

Pictures always distort and can make things bigger or smaller. Yet Monobia Quadridens is actually only about ¾ of an inch, an inch, and to watch that tiny insect scurry down, across, and up in heat and humidity while carrying its dead prey was fascinating and amazing. The heat radiating off of the cement didn’t seem to perturb it in any way. Later, when I dug around more, I learned they are a tropical species that can be found from the United States all the way down to Argentina. Caterpillars and pollen consist of their main subsistence and yes, like all wasps, they do sting. Interestingly enough, only the females have venom where the males simply sting.

The picture I caught on my phone looks like a creature out of a science fiction movie leering among the leaves. There are two ivory colored dots that give the appearance of eyes yet are two bands on its thorax on either side of its head.

Wonders of nature never cease. It’s really cool to be looking back at the picture I took as winter begins and I’m grateful that little bit of nature popped out when it did.

Correction

By Dr. Immacula Cann

It has come to my attention that there were two errors in my recent post about diversity on Town Commissions and Boards.  The Library Board member who wasn’t reappointed is a teacher, but not in the Stratford system.  Also I mistakenly thought she was a person of color.

These two items do not change my point about the need for improved diversity on our local governing bodies and the need for fresh faces and perspectives.  We fail the community by consistently recycling the same faces in these important positions.

Opportunity for Public Service Diversity?

by Dr. Immacula Cann

A community may be measured according to many standards, including improving home values; a healthy and growing Grand List; the reputation of the school system for student achievement as measured by college admissions; property taxes staying stable or decreasing; and control of bond burden through careful planning and monitoring of annual capital borrowing.

One measure worthy of consideration but rarely expressed is “Community Engagement”, or citizen participation in public service on community boards and commissions. These are too often limited to a small number of residents, often political party insiders and friends of those in power. These same people show up on your ballot every November, defeating the idea behind term limits by moving from Town Council to

Planning Commission to Board of Education to Zoning Commission. When not elected, they turn to their friends in Town Hall to get appointed to one (or often several) non-elected boards and commissions.

These are all unpaid, volunteer positions and I appreciate those who give their time in service to Stratford. But we can’t solve our problems by doing the same old things. We need change in our town. And we need new blood, new ideas, fresh visions and perspectives to really serve Stratford. To do this, we need diversity on our local boards and commissions.

Recently, three positions on our Library Board came up for appointment. Two spots were set for Republicans, so the board would be balanced politically. They were both filled by former Councilmen who had also served on numerous boards and commissions, both appointed and elected. There were two Democrats with expiring terms and only one could be reappointed.

One of these volunteers is completely outside the political world. She is a teacher in the Stratford school system and had served on the Library Board with pride and distinction. She brought the perspective of a woman of color. The other candidate has also served the Board well. But the difference is he’s a former elected and appointed official, part of a very politically active family in town and he’s been very friendly with the mayor.

Guess who got the position.

The Mayor says that she supports community diversity. But minorities in her photos seem often used as “blackground” rather than necessarily participating at the table in decision making. The educator let it be known that she wished to continue on the Library Board and the Democratic Council members publicly supported her. It was an easy and golden opportunity for the mayor to practice the diversity she talks about.

Stratford has young, middle, and senior citizens of great diversity of backgrounds and culture, ones who have fresh views on how to move our Town forward. How does this decision provide encouragement to those who would serve today? How does this decision help the future for their fellow citizens of the community? We cannot let the same people keep doing the same things and expect a different outcome. It’s time for change.

On the Dishonorable Roll: Stratford Makes the Distressed Municipalities List

By Rachel Rusnak

In a blow to the residents of Stratford for the second time in 15 years, we have the unfortunate distinction of landing on the State of Connecticut’s Distressed Municipalities list. A dis-honor I’m sure most of us would have rather avoid; we find ourselves among the top 25 impoverished communities out of 169, and one of only two in Fairfield County. Each year the State, per statute, calculates community fiscal capacity and identifies distressed municipalities as those with “high unemployment and poverty, aging housing stock and low or declining rates of growth in job creation, population, and per capita income.”

Thanks to our distressed status Stratford is on track to receive an additional $4,719,720 from the Distressed Municipalities pot, which is funded via state bonds, and in this fiscal year through the Cares Act. (The Mayor’s Proposed 2022 Operating Budget misidentifies this revenue as “State Covid Funding”, however, the Governor’s budget is very clear that this funding is a result of Stratford being identified as a “Distressed Municipality”.)

Stratford last appeared on the list in 2012, under the guidance of former Mayor Harkins. Since then, in 2018 the Yankee Institutes’ “Assessing Municipal Fiscal Health in Connecticut” identified Stratford as the third worst-off municipality in the state, based on general fund balances, long-term obligations, pension contributions, and changes in unemployment rates and property values. Who knew?
Heading into the campaign season, what say the candidates running for mayor? How can we get Stratford booted off this dreadful list, draw high-quality employment, thoughtful development, boost our local economy, and improve the fiscal health of Stratford? These are the questions that I and likely many of my townspeople would like answered – we cannot afford to wait.

References:
https://portal.ct.gov/media/OPM/Budget/2022_2023_Biennial_Budget/Bud_WebPage/GovBud_2022-23_Final_Web_Update.pdf
https://yankeeinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Warning-Signs-min-1.pdf
https://portal.ct.gov/DECD/Content/About_DECD/Research-and-Publications/02_Review_Publications/Distressed-Municipalities?fbclid=IwAR3gKp1AZaWc7aJfrlIsabaS7yReAah-PHbBjno7AWdbJNJdQY-IqXgAZ08

 

Here’s One Trump Inadvertently Got Right

By Joseph Gerics, Ed.D.

Thinking about tax policy can be complicated. The first issue is fundamental philosophical differences. Some people emphasize maximizing economic growth because “a rising tide lifts all boats,” while others concerned about income inequality would sacrifice a degree of growth to achieve greater equity.

Second, tax policy influences behavior, and policy goals vary. For example, housing policies intended to promote home ownership will differ from those intended to reduce homelessness.

Perhaps most important, taxes hit us in the pocketbook. Few people enjoy paying taxes; most people consider their “fair share” of the tax burden to be somewhat less than they are now paying.

Let’s see if we can overcome these hurdles and analyze one piece of tax policy. Since the start of the federal income tax in 1913, Americans have taken deductions for State And Local Taxes (SALT) on their federal tax returns. This SALT deduction for local property taxes was justified in part as a means of promoting home ownership by reducing its net cost.

President Trump capped the SALT deduction at $10,000. Some viewed this change as punitive because it primarily impacted residents of high-service, high-tax states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, which happen to vote Democratic. Opponents of President Trump’s SALT cap sometimes argue that not being able to deduct state and local taxes is “double taxation.”

Frankly, I just don’t get this argument, though it sounds pretty good if one’s point is just to lambaste any taxation as too high. Local and state taxes fund services the federal government does not provide, like recreation, libraries, and police and fire protection. Paying for these services is, of course, additional taxation—for additional services. But additional taxation, like gasoline taxes, real estate conveyance taxes and estate taxes, does not mean “double taxation.”

Senators and representatives from the Northeast are pressing President Biden to restore the full SALT deduction. Doing so would result in a federal tax decrease for Connecticut residents who currently pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes. But this tax break would do more harm than good.

Let’s look at some examples. A Bridgeport home valued at $300,000 would have a property tax over $11,000, exceeding President Trump’s $10,000 SALT cap. This homeowner might support restoration of the full SALT deduction, since they would have an additional $1,000 deduction on their federal tax return for their property tax, plus an additional deduction for any state income taxes they paid. But let’s take a deeper dive into comparative benefits.
Consider a second Bridgeport home valued at $1,000,000. This property’s tax bill would be almost $38,000. The full SALT deduction would give this homeowner almost an additional $28,000 deduction, substantially more than their counterpart in a more modest dwelling.

Bridgeport has no $10 million homes, but Fairfield County’s Gold Coast does. In New Canaan a $10 million home would be taxed at over $127,000. Removing Trump’s SALT cap of $10,000 would provide this lucky homeowner with an additional $117,000 federal tax deduction.

Now, you might think it would be equitable if the property tax bill for a New Canaan home worth ten times a Bridgeport home were ten times that of the Bridgeport property. Instead, the fortunate New Canaanite’s property tax bill is less than four times the Bridgeport homeowner’s, because of the disparity in local mill rates. But this inequity is a subject for another column.

Not all plutocrats live in spartan $10 million mansions. Bill Gates’ Seattle estate is worth more than $131 million. And the New York Times recently advertised a Beverly Hills estate—27,000 square feet, 11 bedrooms, tennis court, pool and screening room—for $115 million. California property taxes are based on the purchase price, and in Beverly Hills the effective property tax rate is 1.1%. So a buyer purchasing this property at the listed price would get a whopping tax deduction of $1,265,000 from a full SALT deduction.

These examples take only local property taxes into account. While the analysis would be more complete by taking state income taxes into account, it is clear that a full SALT deduction would be another tax give-away to the wealthy. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, approximately 85% of its benefit would go to the richest 5% of households.

The richest Americans benefited disproportionately when President Trump reduced corporate taxes, cut the top personal tax rate and raised the income level at which it kicked in. By definition his tax plan was regressive, burdening poorer households in comparison to wealthier households.

But a full SALT deduction is not a good deal for working- and middle-class families. The SALT deduction benefits the rich far more than the poor, and progressives should not lobby President Biden for it. If they are concerned about the tax burden on working class families struggling to buy their first home, perhaps a modest increase in President Trump’s $10,000 SALT cap is worth considering.

If the SALT deduction is increased, we need to return to a limitation on total itemized deductions to prevent a windfall. Prior to President Trump’s tax reform, overall itemized tax deductions were reduced once a threshold in adjusted gross income was reached. This at least prevented itemized deduction windfalls from high SALT deductions.
Of course, also worth considering is the fact that renters see significantly smaller benefits from the SALT deduction. And while increasing the rate of home ownership may be a worthwhile goal, the true crisis in our housing market is homelessness.

More than 111,000 students in New York City are homeless. To get some sense of the extent of this crisis, compare that startling number to the total number of students attending Bridgeport public schools, about 23,000. Maybe it’s time to worry less about promoting home ownership, and more about providing decent, affordable housing for all.

Dr. Gerics is a retired Catholic school teacher and administrator.
He is a member of the Stratford Democratic Town Committee.

Redistricting in Connecticut 2021: It is Worth Your Attention

by Patricia Rossi,
Connecticut Representative of the League of Women Voters of the U. S.’s People Powered Fair Maps Program.
Source: The Connecticut Mirror

2021 is the year for redistricting in the United States. Maps drawn this year will define which voters can vote for which candidates for the next ten years.  That means ensuring that the 2021 maps are fair and representative of their communities is critically important.

How do we ensure we get fair maps? By paying attention to what, when, and how the process is conducted and providing input to the legislative committee so the public’s voice is heard alongside those of legislators.

What is redistricting?  Our U.S. Congress members, state legislators, and many city council and school board members are elected by people grouped into districts.  At least once a decade, after a census, these districts are redrawn.

Why do we do it?  As population shifts between and within states, districts have to be redrawn to ensure that each district has about the same number of people, allowing for each person to have an equal say in the government, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

How is it done in Connecticut?  What’s the timeline?  The Connecticut constitution sets out the redistricting process: a bipartisan committee is appointed by the top four leaders of the legislature by February 15th.  The leaders have appointed those eight members for this cycle: Sens Mary Daughtery Abrams, D-13; Douglas McCrory, D-2; Kevin Kelly, R-21, Paul Formica, R-20; Reps. Vincent Candelora, R-86, House Minority Leader; Jason Perillo, R-113, Terry Exum, D-19, and Gregory Haddad, D-54.

The committee uses data from the decennial census to create and submit a districting plan to the General Assembly.  If the Assembly does not approve the plan by September 15, an eight-member reapportionment commission is identified by the same legislative leaders, who then chose a ninth state elector to join them.   They are charged with preparing a plan that at least five members support by November 30th.  If they cannot agree on a plan, the constitution calls for the supreme court of Connecticut to compel the commission to agree to a plan.  The court can also draw the boundaries itself.  The plan must be done by February 15th of the next year (in this cycle, 2022).

This timeline assumes the U.S. Census Bureau will be able to deliver population counts for all the towns, districts, and census blocks in Connecticut by April 1st.  The Census Bureau has announced that the data needed for redistricting won’t be delivered until late September.  This late delivery increases the chances that the process will be rushed and scheduling opportunities for public input diminished.

How can we make redistricting better?  Elected officials —including the eight members of the redistricting committee– have an incentive to create districts that protect incumbency.  It would be better to have a commission made up of non-partisan experts and citizens who would be more likely to draw maps that took the people’s interests in mind, perhaps by using criteria defined by the voters.

But in Connecticut we don’t have time to change the process for 2021: that requires amending the state constitution, which is a multi-year process.  We do have the ability to increase the chances that the process is conducted in full view of an educated and involved electorate.

We can insist the committee:

  • Create and maintain a public website soon to lay out their plans for map drafting, public hearings, experts engaged, community representatives consulted.
  • Share the draft maps and political and demographic data the committee is using. Communities could then see where they are being counted and have their concerns and suggestions heard.
  • Commit to accessible and timely public hearings, conducted around the state, via teleconference and in person, and timed so input can be given early on in response to draft maps and later in the process before final maps are drawn.

Racial Biases In Connecticut

Joseph Gerics, Ed.D.
Retired Catholic school educator
Resides in Stratford

The town of Trumbull is currently racked by controversy over its advisory diversity committee, after the chair compared the Blue Lives Matter flag to the Confederate flag. Supporters claim she was speaking from personal experience of racism; critics accuse her of anti-police bias. Underlying this debate are divergent understandings of racism.

Folks like me, “on the back nine,” as one contemporary put it, and also white and middle class, are personally insulated from racism. When some minorities claim they encounter racism nearly every day, some of us just don’t see it at all, not having experienced it directly. We often think about race in terms of progress we have seen over the last 50 years.

No doubt much has changed. In 1965 the landmark Voting Rights Act was passed. Racial slurs and race-based “jokes,” fairly common in our youth, even in President Reagan’s cabinet, are largely unacceptable today. Minorities are far more visible in mainstream culture, particularly sports and entertainment. It is illegal to discriminate against minorities in hiring and housing, and some institutions and enterprises practice affirmative action. Many consider this remarkable progress.

Yet the significance of these changes is debatable. Since the Trump era hundreds of laws in 43 states have been proposed to limit voting access (Washington Post). Minorities are visible as “talent”—athletes and actors—while remaining underrepresented in management and practically invisible in ownership. Racial discrimination persists: hiring is subjective, and proving that race was a decisive factor in evaluating qualifications is difficult. Discrimination in rentals has been repeatedly demonstrated in many cities.

So what counts as progress against racism? Answering is not simply a question of whether the glass is half-full or half-empty, but of two distinct meanings of racism. The first is racial bias. Many whites claim not to be prejudiced. They may avoid and even speak out against racial “humor.” Never having hired anyone or rented to anyone, they may not have discriminated. They may have Black friends.

Yet most whites and Blacks live in separate social networks that manifest and perpetuate racism. Look at our churches, which still reflect Dr. Martin Luther King’s comment seventy years ago that “the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.” Look around most workplaces—hospitals are particularly striking—to observe the color of the professionals and the color of the manual laborers.

Look at our schools. Central High School in Bridgeport is 14% white, 43% Hispanic and 38% Black (SchoolDigger). Trumbull High School is 73% white. Joel Barlow High School, serving Easton and Redding, is 85% white. Weston High School is 86.5% white.

Do racial demographics make a difference? Well, per pupil expenditures are $13,491 at Central, $17,350 at Trumbull, $23,477 at Barlow and $23,419 at Weston.

Wealthy suburban students are further advantaged in college placement. Despite the recent scandals resulting in prison for Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, most of us consider admissions a meritocracy based on objective standards like SAT scores. Unfortunately, not so. The best predictor of SAT performance is family income.

On average students from families with incomes under $20,000 score 970; those with incomes between $40,000 and $60,000 score 1070, those with incomes between $100,000 and $140,000 score 1150, and those with incomes over $200,000 score 1230 (College Board via Collegevine).

The average net worth of white families, $171,000, is almost ten times that of Black families (Brookings Institution, 2020). While exclusionary zoning in wealthy towns and neighborhoods may not be intentionally racist, it is effectively racist. Proportionately fewer Black families can afford home ownership in the first place, let alone homes on relatively large tracts of land. Trumbull, far more affordable than Easton and Weston, has an average house price of $399,200; Bridgeport’s is less than half, $174,700.

White families prefer to live in white neighborhoods. Research shows that property values decline once more than ten percent of a neighborhood is Black, and the loss in value continues as the proportion of Black neighbors increases (NYT op-ed).

Suburban officials resist state efforts encouraging affordable housing on the grounds of “preserving the character” of their towns, while denying that exclusionary zoning is racist. If racism means only prejudice, they may be justified, because “preserving the character of our town” is code for “keeping the poor out,” not only minorities.

That is precisely why we must acknowledge institutional racism, structural advantages whites in general enjoy compared to subordinated minorities. Whites are protected by a veil of privilege we normally don’t think about. In limiting racism to prejudice, we miss its pervasiveness. By taking a broader societal perspective, whites can start to grasp how we have benefited from generations of white supremacy.

Middle class whites like me tend to look at good fortune in our careers and financial security in retirement as earned rewards for hard work, diligence and frugality in delaying immediate gratification for the long term. We don’t reflect on other groups who work just as hard, yet reap far fewer rewards. We were wise in investing in home ownership and taking advantage of the resulting federal tax breaks, even if these benefits were unavailable to renters. And, if every increase in our property values means that poorer families are frozen out of the housing market, well, that’s just the way our capitalist economy works.

So, can Blue Lives Matter flags be compared to Confederate flags? Those defining racism solely as individual bias and prejudice would judge such a comparison unfair. But for those who recognize social structures that produce racist outcomes, including policies and practices that result in violence on Black bodies on a regular basis, the comparison may be valid.

Moving from the personal to the structural in thinking about race can be troubling. Few whites in Fairfield County want to fly Confederate flags. We all want our children to have a quality education and our homes to appreciate in value.

It is unsettling to unpack the implications of those desires in our segregated society. It’s not enough to join the next Black Lives Matter march if whites continue to send our children to segregated schools, and profit from tax, zoning and housing policies that benefit us while disadvantaging minorities.

Vaccines Needed Now More Than Ever

Dr. Jack Ross
President of the CT Infectious Disease Society
Journal Courier, March 2, 2021

I fear the Social Contract is Being Lost in the Vaccine Debate

Last week, I testified before the Public Health Committee, on behalf of the Connecticut Infectious Diseases Society, in support of critical bills that will strengthen our state’s vaccine policy by improving the medical exemption process and by eliminating the non- medical exemption.

As infectious disease physicians, we have witnessed tremendous advances in the field of infection prevention and the incredible development of life-saving vaccinations.

Unfortunately, we have also provided care to patients who have suffered from vaccine- preventable illnesses, resulting in lifelong debilitating consequences and in some cases even death.

It is these cases that stay with us and give me the greatest pause as I consider some of the testimony heard throughout the hearing before the Public Health Committee.

I was left feeling that the social contract has been lost as speaker after speaker focused on their own needs and entitlements rather than the concerns of our most vulnerable populations and of their neighbors.

You see, we have witnessed the devastating impacts of measles in patients who have suffered neurological injury and even infertility because of the mumps infection. We have cared for patients who have died from influenza, meningitis, whooping cough and tetanus-all vaccine-preventable diseases. That is the heart-breaking point, they didn’t have to die because we have safe, effective vaccines against these deadly infections.

The success of these vaccines relies on herd immunity, the resistance to the spread of an infectious disease in a society. Failure to reach herd immunity due to unvaccinated individuals leads to sustained disease transmission, long-term health consequences and unnecessary deaths.

What we heard this week was the breakdown in the social contract where individual needs seemingly take precedence over the needs of the community. Our most vulnerable-those patients with HIV, on immunosuppressing drugs for autoimmune or rheumatologic disorders or inflammatory bowel disease, those receiving chemotherapy for cancer, transplant patients, the elderly, newborns—these patients are at significant risk of serious infection or death when our herd immunity breaks down.

In Connecticut, we have seen clusters of mumps infections on the UCONN campus- infections that could have led to an outbreak without protective vaccine rates in the community. Without the social contract, and with the increase in non-medical exemptions, our state becomes more vulnerable to the outbreaks experienced in New York and even California. States that removed non-medical exemptions following their
own outbreaks-but after the damage was done.

During the hearing, we heard from New Yorkers who left their state and came to Connecticut to maintain their exemptions further exacerbating the problem here. With the rising rates of religious exemptions among kindergarten students throughout Connecticut-MAKE NO MISTAKE-we are in danger of developing large enough pockets of unvaccinated children to sustain transmission of these infections in our state.

Illnesses that further strain a health care system already at risk from the pandemic. Keep in mind that scientific literature demonstrates that measles has a secondary attack rate of 90%. What does that mean? One infected child who comes into close contact with 10 people who are non-immune will infect 9 of those people (say a cancer patient, someone on immunosuppressing medications, a newborn, an elderly person).

Clearly, this demonstrates how quickly measles can spread in an unvaccinated community and why we are so concerned.

If we have learned anything from the current crisis, it is the need to be proactive, to plan, to use everything in our power to protect our communities, to make the difficult decisions-to strengthen the social contract-putting the community above the individual.

If we are to avoid another crisis, we must enact legislation to remove non-medical exemptions and ensure we protect our communities from vaccine-preventable diseases. Vaccination complacency is not an option.

Vaccination complacency is not an option.