Issues

I am a progressive Democrat.

As a progressive Democrat, I believe in decreasing income inequality and increasing opportunity. I am pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-environment, pro-LGBT rights, and pro-labor. The ideas listed below are not an exhaustive list of my positions, but those on which there is the greatest contrast with those of my opponent. If you  have any questions about any positions, I love to talk policy and am happy to discuss your concerns. Email me at Paulforstaterep@gmail.com or call 860-836-2745. I will be back to you quickly.

                                              -Jason

New Strategies for Economic Success

Connecticut is a beautiful state with a well-educated workforce. It should be a draw for the world. Our problem is that we lack a strategy for building on our strengths. Too often, we let the rhetoric of the Right limit our thinking. Governor Malloy, in his State of the State address, laid out the makings of a bold agenda. We need to push hard to see these solutions implemented with the full force of government. If Connecticut can commit to having the best services and programs in the country, we can attract people to come here in exactly the same way our most affluent towns do now. There are also compassionate things we can do right away that will actually save the state money. Here is how we can:

  • A Permanent Living Wage

The debate over the minimum wage should be over. The country and the state have spoken with overwhelming majorities in support of the minimum wage. Our principle should be absolutely clear: If you work a full time job in the State of Connecticut, you should never be poor. (The federal government should also embrace this goal.) The Governor is right to seek to raise the minimum wage, but there needs to be a permanent system that protects wage levels at those required to keep people out of poverty. We shouldn’t have to have this fight constantly; we should enshrine this principle into our laws and then move on to other things.

  • Universal Pre-K on par with Universal Public Education.

Scientific understanding of the brain should change the way we think about public education. It is during the earliest years when children learn the most and also when the largest gaps in development begin to manifest. Development gaps today become income gaps tomorrow. Simply because we haven’t had pre-K before is no reason not to implement it now. The truth is, given our current understanding, it would be better to get rid of the last two years of High School than to chronically underfund pre-K. No one would dream of getting rid of the last two years of high school and that is exactly how we've treated pre-K. One of the reasons our public schools have long attracted strong support is because they are universally open to all students. Much more needs to be done in all our schools, but we should start by thinking of pre-K not as an add-on, but as essential to the overall education system for all children.  

  • End Homelessness

I proudly join the Governor’s call to end homelessness for veterans by the end of the year. But we should look seriously at ending homelessness in Connecticut - period. In case this seems like pie in the sky, Utah is on track to end homelessness by 2015 [1] and their solution could not be simpler: give people homes. In the end it saves money for the state and makes people’s lives better: it is a winner. If Utah can do it why can’t we?

  • Real College Affordability -- Savings and Scholarships.

The Governor deserves a lot of credit for his solutions on college affordability.  We still need to dream bigger. Other states are doing more. Georgia Hope Scholarship is an admirable model. [2]

Tennessee is considering a plan to offer 2 years of community college free of charge. [3] Connecticut should be thinking as boldly.  The Governor’s proposal for savings accounts open in students’ names is an excellent idea.  But the initial start amount may have to be bigger if we want to grab the attention the plan is designed to achieve.

  • Be on the prowl for new ideas

In addition to the four points above, we can never stop looking for new solutions.  This article in particular caught my eye. The basic point is that lack of food attributable to a dwindling supply of food stamps resulted in more needless hospital admissions. This shows us failure to coordinate at their worst. Medicaid is on the hook for the cost of this care, and people suffer.  It would have been much more cost-effective for government to avoid the hospital admission than it is to pay for it. But hits to the Medicaid books don’t show up in the food stamp ledgers, so we all pay for worse outcomes. This is something Connecticut can try to fix on its own.  It is also the sort of penny wise and pound foolishness that we should constantly work to eliminate. In the long term this will absolutely safe the State money.  Government not working together can make everyone lose, and we need to do everything we can to fight it.  I will work tirelessly to find innovative solutions to our problems.

Fight for Gun Safety Laws

The United States faces an epidemic of gun violence, which takes the lives of   30,000 Americans a year.   How can we not see this as a crisis? When comparable countries such as Great Britain have gun death rates 40 times lower, we have to do more.

I am proud that Connecticut now has one of the toughest gun safety policies in the nation.  But with every law comes a new loophole, and opponents of sensible gun safety laws lie in wait.  In Connecticut, supporters of responsible approaches to firearms outnumber opponents more than 2-1.  We need to stand strong for the principle that we should do everything within constitutional limits to protect as many people from guns as possible.  We can never be shy about sharing with the people the  potential dangers of gun ownership.

Unfortunately our State Representative doesn’t get it.  Not only was she one of a small handful of Democrats to vote against Connecticut’s most recent  gun safety law; she even voted against a law that required reporting if a gun went stolen or missing.  Such reporting matters, as the most recent reports indicate that lost or stolen guns are responsible for more damage than all guns used in self-defense prevent.  Yet in the face of overwhelming evidence, our Representative remains with the NRA down the line. Not only is the NRA wrong on their signature issue and responsible for lobbying that has prevented the government from finding the facts; but they also slandered President Obama suggesting about his potential re-election: “All of what we know is good and right about America, all of it could be lost.” [4]

The NRA also tolerates hate speech. [5]

No Democrat or progressive should accept the NRA's endorsement, and no Democrat should get an A grade from the NRA. If our representative can’t see the damage done by guns and their extremist supporters, how can she help us rise to the challenge of gun violence?  Worse, how can we count on her to avoid special interest blinders that prevent us from rising to other crucial challenges.  The most important job of any elected official is to know the difference between a vocal minority and the true majority.

Defending Connecticut’s Anti-Corruption Laws

After seeing a Governor go to jail, Connecticut reacted wisely by passing the best campaign finance law in the country. Its impact was almost immediate in reducing the power of lobbyists in the halls of the Capitol.A previously stalled bill re-directing unclaimed bottle deposits to environmental conservation sailed through without a fight.Similar stories abound. [6]

This law is a big part of why I decided to run. Being able to run on ideas and not money is a beautiful thing. Connecticut’s law should dramatically decrease the amount of time legislators spend raising money, and shrink the role donor requests play in the political process. Public financing is the principal gateway to progressive legislation. If legislators and candidates invest in this system and work within its confines, they will rise to levels we can admire.

Regrettably, however, just a few short years after it was clear how effective the campaign finance law had become, the lobbyists who had been shut out have begun forcing their way back in.A legislative majority - including our representative - voted to weaken the state’s campaign finance law by easing the flow of outside money. That money can drown out our voices and let bad ideas win.Indeed, it’s precisely those who doubt the power of their ideas who seek to entrench the power of big money. We needn’t let that happen. The people of Connecticut should not be asked to fund public financing of elections while legislators go back to chasing dollars. We should stand proudly for public financing and against efforts to weaken it. Independent legislators are necessary for the kind of state we wish to enjoy.

Time for a Truce in the Drug War

No one can doubt that drugs are a destructive force in our society.   Sadly, it is also true that the War on Drugs has damaged society as well.  It is time for a truce in the War on Drugs. This should begin with a serious look at the state’s marijuana law. Decriminalization was a good first step. But Connecticut should be looking intently at Colorado and Washington and consider joining the experiment.  Public opinion  on marijuana policy is changing, and we should be willing to change with it. There is  very little evidence to suggest that marijuana is more dangerous for the individual  than alcohol.  We may one day look back at marijuana prohibition the same way we look at alcohol prohibition.   Besides marijuana we also need to look at ways to shift the conversation around illegal drugs from one of enforcement to one of health care and treatment.  Connecticut has the highest cost per prisoner of any state in the nation. We need to look into ways to reduce that population. Non-violent drug offenders are the best place to start.  It is time for a truce in the drug war.