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 McCarthy Vahey's Positions
"Senior Tax relief plays a critical role in helping seniors in our community remain in their homes and a part of the community that provides them social support, networks, and connections. We know this can be lifesaving. Tax relief is even more important now, as home values have risen significantly in our area and corresponding revaluations and tax increases have disproportionally impacted our seniors on fixed incomes.
I look to FSA and advocates like RTM member Jill Vergara and BOF member Sheila Marmion for specifics on what you all think are the best next steps for the legislature to take. I will work in partnership with all of you to advocate for improvements. One example is the need to increase the state funding available for senior tax relief in our communities around the state. Yes, we should provide relief for earners over $100,000 jointly or $75,000 individually and should also provide a stepped approach rather than the current cliff. I would co-sponsor or introduce a bill that would make this change."
"Yes, I support the acceleration and would sponsor or introduce a bill that would make this change."
"I have had many conversations with all of you and former FSA member Carrie Makover about this issue and tremendously appreciate the work you have done on ADUs and many other aspects of this issue. I hope to continue these conversations with you and other stakeholders. As I knock on doors, there are Fairfielders who have benefitted from the initial ADU changes and further expansion following the legislature’s action.
Working towards meaningful solutions means a willingness to have difficult conversations, which I have consistently done and will continue to do in order to create viable, meaningful solutions. Seniors need a diversity of housing options, some of which do not exist in sufficient supply here in our community. In general, we need more housing options at all ages and stages and all income levels. Walkable communities, accessible building, access to transit – these are all things we need to plan for and develop. They provide an increase to our tax base, economic vitality, improved environment, and a way for seniors to remain in the community.
We can preserve the quality of life and home values with a variety of different development options, particularly when they are placed in areas that make sense. Our train station areas, specifically downtown Fairfield and the Metro Center area are places where density is logical, and we are starting to see more of that near the Metro Center. I would like to see the town adopt the TOD recommendations from the planning study a number of years ago. I helped secure funding and pushed for that study, in part because I know that we have a better chance for success if developers are clear about what we are looking for in these areas.
We need to continue to partner with the town, state, and the Housing Authority, to incentivize a diversity of housing, including middle housing. We need to find ways to help small scale developers preserve some of the existing multi-family homes in neighborhoods, such as one that is for sale on Stratfield Rd.
We have to assure adequate funding of DOH and the programs that provide funding for a diversity of projects. We’ll all need to sit at the table and talk with one another rather than trade social media messages and petitions. I have experience doing this and will continue to work with people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives."
"I work in partnership with my colleagues, including those who serve on our Human Services Committee. Assuring that we support a money follows the person approach, allowing those who want to remain at home to do so. This means assuring adequate care and support from a home health standpoint as well. We have made progress, thanks to both state and federal efforts, with prescription drug pricing, but we need to continue to work on improving affordability and access to medication.
We need to address costs without sacrificing access to care, which is one of the reasons I supported former Comptroller Lembo’s public option advocacy. We need to assure that long term care premiums are not skyrocketing, putting seniors who have long counted on this safety net in a position to abandon a policy they have paid into for years.
I know there is more, and, as always, hope to partner with all of you in these efforts."
"Yes, I would seek additional funding and be willing to sponsor or introduce a bill."
"Yes, I would support the bill and would be willing to introduce or sponsor a bill. As the FSA knows, I have worked in partnership with you on this issue in the past, and would be happy to do so again going forward."