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?
Senator Hwang's Positions
"I strongly believe that senior tax relief is important to retaining many of our senior residents and equally critical to maintaining their standard of living due to increased costs in taxation, utilities and cost of living increases and inflation. We should increase the hard cap for seniors to be eligible for tax relief. I will propose legislation as a member of the Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee. I will propose legislation to address the inequity in the treatment of IRA income.
Both the pension and annuity exemption and the IRA exemption have hard caps at $100,000 for the filing jointly and $75,000 for single filers. A phase-out of the pension and annuity exemption has been discussed in the past and could be scored for next session. The pension and annuity exemption was established as a part of the 2017 budget that I supported and the phase-in was accelerated during the 2022 session. The full exemption costs the state roughly $100 million annually. Back-ground on the IRA exemption is expanded on in the background for question 2 below."
"This change was adopted in the 2021 implementer bill and scheduled so that the IRA exemption phase-in would complete in tax year 2026, while the pension and annuity exemption was set to fully phase-in by tax year 2025. In the 2022 session the pension and annuity exemption was accelerated to completely phase-in for the 2022 tax year. Following full implementation the IRA exemption is expected to cost $77.8 million per year, the cost may be higher during the first year of full implementation. Again, as a senior member of the Finance, Revenue & Bonding committee, I would support an acceleration of the current phase-in schedule and would be willing to sponsor and work to raise the bill for public hearing."
"Affordable, accessible and diverse housing has been a controversial topic in recent years on the Planning & Development committee. As the ranking leader, I have consistently advocated for affordable housing for those in need as long as it is established as a collaboration between local, state and federal authorities. Local zoning and land use input is critical to any affordable housing application using CGS section 8.30g. State mandated control as a one-size-fits-all policy has not and does not work in its over 30 years in existence."
"In the 2021 session, as the ranking leader in the Insurance & Real Estate committee - I led an informational hearing addressing Long Term Care Insurance rate increases. As a result, I proposed and voted to support a bill that would have established a 20% tax credit for long-term care insurance payments for those with an adjusted gross income at $200,000 or below. I will continue to push for fairness and affordable access to LTC insurance."
"I would enthusiastically propose and sponsor a bill to increase their funding as the ranking leader of the Insurance & Real Estate Committee. The Community Ombudsman program as established in the 2022 session is housed within the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman and was appropriated $98,000 for a supervisor position. This funding comes from within the budget of the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. The provision was a part of the amendment bill to fix the budget implementer that was full of partisan and special interest provisions. The budget and implementer, containing nearly a thousand pages of legislation and budget items were released a few hours before legislative Senate vote. A slap & insult to transparency and responsible accountability."
"I have proposed and supported this concept/bill for the past few years and will continue to do so. SB-266 would have the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection create a registry of those convicted of committing financial crimes against elderly individuals. The Department Public Health would check the registry during background checks for prospective employees at long term care facilities, and post a link on its website so the public can search those on the registry. Definition of financial crime: ‘financial crime against an elderly person" means a crime involving an elderly person as a victim prosecuted under subdivision (5) of subsection (a) of section 53a-123 or7 section 53a-125c, 53a-125d, 53a-125e, 53a-129b or 53a-129c of the general statutes. Unfortunately, this concept & registry was opposed by the Office of Public Defender Services and ultimately referred to the Judiciary committee late in the legislative session and failed."