Select Senior Issues
(1) The loss of seniors is a particular burden to many of our towns, and a major concern to FSA. What role, if any, do you believe senior tax relief can play in alleviating this loss? What, if any, specific additional State senior tax relief measures are needed? Should we provide some level of tax relief for seniors who earn more than $100,000 as a couple ($75,000 joint)? Should we fix the current discontinuity in the tax relief rules, in which seniors become immediately ineligible when their earnings exceed the above-mentioned caps (the “cliff effect”)? Moreover, there remains an inequity in the treatment of IRA income.
(2) Recently enacted PA 22-18 permits only a phased in tax exemption on IRA income (other than Roth IRA income):
(3) The lack of housing options in Fairfield affects a growing portion of our current residents – beyond just seniors. Part of this solution lies in creating more middle housing solutions. FSA’s perception is that many State legislators are not working effectively toward meaningful housing solutions. How might we preserve the quality of life and home values while working more effectively toward shared solutions to the current shortage of affordable housing?
(4) What measures are needed to ensure the welfare and equitable treatment of residents with long term care needs? What steps should be taken to improve and ensure delivery and cost effectiveness of health care for older residents?
(5) A Community Ombudsman Program for Home Care was created as part of the State budget implementer (Section 7), which was recommended by the Senior Fraud Task Force. This program would be modeled after the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program which provides support, information and advocacy to seniors in institutional care. But, as successful as this current program is, they are overwhelmed and appear to be under-staffed. Both the Long Term care and the Community Care Programs need adequate funding. Would you support seeking additional funding for them, and, if so, would you sponsor/co-sponsor a bill to increase their funding?
(6) During the last Legislative session, the Task Force to Study Ways to Protect Senior Citizens from Fraud made several recommendations to the Aging Committee that were not implemented. One was SB-266 An Act Concerning a Registry of Persons Convicted of Financial Crimes Against Elderly Persons. Such Registry would be part of the Commission on Women, Children, Seniors, Equity and Opportunity’s Registry Repository. This bill had a joint favorable change of reference to the Judiciary Committee, where it did not come up for a vote. Would you support such a bill, and if so, would you be willing to sponsor/co-sponsor it?
Representative Leeper's Positions
"Ensuring our seniors can afford to retire in Fairfield and CT has been one of my top priorities in the Legislature. During my first legislative session, I served on the Aging Committee where we protected the Medicare Savings Program from any asset limits, ensured there were no delays on the income tax phase out on most forms of retirement income, and passed the incor-poration of IRAs to the scheduled phase out for FY 22.
It was an honor to be promoted to Vice Chair of the Human Services Committee for my second session where we were able to do a lot of important work on the behalf of seniors. We eliminated income tax on more retirement income, expanded the assets that can be retained by the community spouse, and raised the limit for municipal senior tax relief.
There is still so much to be done. We need to ensure there is marriage-equity for seniors filing jointly so that there is no unintentional tax penalty for married seniors. This means we should eliminate the income tax for joint filers up to $150,000. IRAs should be immediately added to the tax-exempt income and not subjected to the 4-year phase out schedule. The Legislature needs to incorporate a stepdown from the benefit for any seniors making over the threshold so they don’t immediately lose the full benefit for earning less money than the benefit would save.
I would love to find a way for the state to provide municipalities a funding stream for senior tax relief similar to the Education Cost Sharing Grant. Thankfully, we were able to renegotiate the PILOT (payment in-lieu of taxes) formula to more heavily weight universities resulting in almost twice as much revenue coming to Fairfield from the state than GE ever paid in taxes to the town. It is my hope that these additional funds help the town offer even more generous senior tax relief."
"I not only would absolutely support and sponsor an immediate elimination of the income tax on IRAs, I’ve already been in conversations with my colleagues in leadership on the Finance Committee and the House Chair of the Banking Committee about how we can accomplish this during the 2023 session."
"There is a lot of meaningful work we could be doing as a town to construct more affordable housing. I would love for the town and state to partner to transition state-owned land to the town for the purpose of affordable housing- similar to what Westport has done. It would make a lot of sense for us to then partner with Fairfield’s House Authority to develop that property as they have a proven track record of very high-quality, attractive, and well-managed properties that are 100% affordable and are affordable into perpetuity. The Housing Authority constructs pocket neighborhoods, similar to what we so often hear is the desired development for our community."
"There is so much to do to ensure our seniors with long term care needs are adequately and equitably cared for. We must ensure that Medicaid matches keep pace with the rate of inflation so that providers can continue to serve our Medicaid population. We need to better fund our Alzheimer’s respite program so that caretakers can have reasonable breaks from caretaking to take care of their own wellbeing. We must continue to protect MSP from any attempted asset limits as this is a critically important program for many, many seniors to ensure they can afford their medications. While we did take a huge step this year in raising the allowable income that can be retained by a community spouse, it is still not sufficient to ensure we do not leave community spouses destitute and we must continue to expand this income limit.
It is also essential that we much more strictly limit the year-over-year rate increase for Long Term Care Insurance. We have seniors who have paid into this for decades and lose it all because they cannot keep up with the rapidly rising premium hikes. We must do better by our seniors and further reign this is.
I’m grateful that this year we passed legislation reducing the required time period to report suspected elder abuse and hope that this meaningfully improves our seniors’ safety and wellbeing in nursing facilities."
"I was proud that we could get the Community Ombudsman Program for Home Care added this past session and I am deeply committed to ensuring it is properly funded to serve our senior population. This program has the potential to protect seniors from any negative Home Care situations but it must be funded so that there is sufficient staff to do the necessary work. I would proudly co-sponsor legislation to increase funding for this program."
"When I was on the Aging Committee, I was proud of the work we did to crack down on elder abuse. I was disappointed to see this not come up for a vote before the Judiciary Committee. I would certainly co-sponsor it next legislative session. Protecting our seniors from financial predators is critically important.
Lastly, just a quick note of thanks and gratitude to FSA for all the fantastic, well-researched advocacy you do. I was able to be a more effective and impactful legislator because you all were willing to partner with me. I cannot thank you enough for that. It has been a true pleasure working with you and on behalf of our seniors so that Fairfield and CT can become more affordable, supportive, and safer for our seniors to age. I hope to continue to have the opportunity to further this work as the Vice-Chair of the Human Services Committee."