Open letter from CT General Assembly to our Federal Deligaition

This is an open letter from the CT General Assembly to CT’s Federal Delegation, suggesting further measures to be taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic:

PDF of Letter:

Letter to federal delegation 5 14 20

 

Text of Letter:

May 13, 2020

Honorable Richard Blumenthal
Honorable Christopher S. Murphy
Honorable John B. Larson, 1st District
Honorable Joseph Courtney, 2nd District
Honorable Rosa DeLauro, 3rd District
Honorable Jim Himes, 4th District
Honorable Jahana Hayes, 5th District
RE: Further Federal Action to Address COVID-19

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your leadership during this national crisis. We would like to propose the following additional federal measures:

First and foremost:

1) Remove the SALT cap. The unfairness of this policy is further demonstrated in the impact on the economy as a result of the pandemic.

2) Grant States on a need’s basis the necessary funds via a grant to provide States Unemployment funds with 50% of the funds used in the first 6 months of 2020.

3) Provide grant funds necessary to stabilize state and municipal budgets impacted by the economic freefall as a result of the pandemic. Failure to do so will impact necessary funds for basic services such as police, fire, public works and human services.

4) Providing support for employers to continue coverage (e.g., payroll tax relief, refundable credit against employment tax withholdings for firms providing coverage, or direct subsidies of the employer’s premium obligation for each person on the employer’s sponsored plan beginning on the day the crisis was declared).

5) Providing that Tribal Governments be treated on a parity level with State Governments in terms of any federal relief efforts. It should be recognized that in Connecticut support provided by these governments helps the state, and every municipality with funds and jobs. At the outset of the pandemic they worked, as they always have, as a partner in controlling and providing aid to stem the tide of COVID-19. Their failure is a failure of the federal government in providing inadequate support to those who were here first.

6) Provide a block Grant to State Departments of Agriculture allowing the Commissioner of the respective state to distribute as they see best fit for their state’s impacted agricultural industries. Connecticut’s agricultural industry is at a critical point edging on a disaster its dairy, nurseries, growers, aquaculture, etc. are facing elimination without this support.

7) Increase Medicaid payments to non-profits, equivalent to nursing homes, who are more exposed to the Coronavirus due to their work with people with disabilities or mental health issues.

8) Finally, in order to bring back and support jobs develop a robust infrastructure plan that rebuilds dams, roads, bridges, railways, public housing, and other necessary pieces of an economy that works for all.

Below is an outline of other policies that should be updated to provide resources where they are most needed.

Unemployment

We ask Congress to act to support employers both for profit and not for profit negatively impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 so that they are able to open up business and fully hire back employees without the looming debt of the federal and states unemployment funds which is assessed by the number of employees each business has:

a. Eliminate the experience rate for the first 6 months of 2020 in any calculations concerning payback or replenishing the Federal UIF.

Health Care

We ask Congress to act to support employers negatively impacted by the economic effects of the virus so that they are able to continue offering coverage to their employees and to provide additional assistance to individuals who buy coverage on their own but whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by

COVID-19

a. Establishing new funding to support coverage for those who lose their jobs by providing a 90% subsidy for COBRA or other insurance coverage.

b. Enhancing current financial assistance to lower the cost of premiums for those in the individual market by providing tax credits for those with incomes over 400% FPL and adjusting the tax credit formula by age to encourage younger people to purchase coverage.

c. Loan forgiveness regarding training and education loans for those identified as health care workers.

d. Establishing an insurance risk mitigation program that is applicable across the individual, employer, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid markets to provide protection against possible catastrophic claims and to address the additional risk being assumed by insurers as a result of the emergency. The program should be triggered if costs are higher than expected and be structured to cover a portion of the related costs for 2020 and 2021.

Tribes

We ask Congress to recognize that COVID-19 has had a devastating financial impact on Tribal Nations and their respective business ventures which, in turn, support the livelihoods and associated health benefits of thousands of employees by:

a. Ensuring that Tribal run businesses, including but not limited to, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, and casino entities, be afforded the same opportunities as all other businesses when it comes to applying for federal aid/relief.

b. Enhancing financial support to further supplement current unemployment insurance benefits and associated services.

c. Include state recognized Tribal Governments in having access as federal Tribal Governments to federal aid/relief.

Non-Profits

We ask Congress to act to support nonprofit employers negatively impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 so that they can remain open and keep employees and are able to assess tools available to for profit businesses by:

a. Providing a waiver akin to current waivers for other industries allowing nonprofits to apply for the PPP this would not have a cap of 2000 on the number of employees.

b. Include nonprofits workers within the Human Services as essential health care workers allowing them to access both testing and PPE on the same level as hospitals and nursing homes.

c. For nonprofits who work with an at-risk population, cover all expenses for supplies and measures taken to combat the Coronavirus.

Farms/Agriculture

We ask Congress to support Farms and Agriculture by providing flexibility to direct funds to most impacted local issues in parity with other SBA programs and provide immediate relief to deal with current cash flow issues.

a. Dairy – Immediate relief to help stabilize the dairy industry.

b. Payroll Protection Program Extension through October 1, 2020 that creates a farm operator carve out.

c. No interest loan through Farm Services Agency that would allow producers to apply for immediate relief on farm operations.

Small Business

We ask Congress to act to support employers negatively impacted by the economic effects of the COVID-19 so that they can open and keep employees and are able to assess tools available businesses by:

a. Expand the PPP program to push the date of eligibility to October 1, 2020.

b. Expand the SBA program to include a sole proprietor and 1099 component.

c. Require that credit card processing companies charge the same rate for all transactions.
Education

We ask Congress to ensure that there is equity in educational opportunities. The need is great in our urban centers and our rural areas (often ignored). We need an educational system that is equitable to all.

Infrastructure

A robust infrastructure plan is necessary to rebuild the economy. This should be patterned after programs available after the Great Depression.

Miscellanea

Require credit scores eliminate the period of January 2020 – June 2020 in score calculations.

Thank you for your continued leadership.

Yours Sincerely,
______________________________ ______________________________
Martin M. Looney Bob Duff
Senate President Pro Tempore Senate Majority Leader
State Senator 11th District State Senator 25th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Catherine A. Osten Derek Slap
State Senator 19th District State Senator, 5th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Norm Needleman Kate Rotella
State Senator 33rd District State Representative, 43rd District
______________________________ ______________________________
Christine Conley Mary Daugherty Abrams
State Representative, 40th District State Senator 13th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Christine Cohen Carlo Leone
State Senator 12th District State Senator 27th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Steve Cassano Will Haskell
State Senator, 4th District State Senator, 26th District
______________________________ ______________________________
James Maroney John Fonfara
State Senator, 14th District State Senator 1st District
______________________________ ______________________________
Joan Hartley Alex Kasser
State Senator 15th District State Senator 36th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Dennis Bradley Doug McCrory
State Senator 23rd District State Senator, 2nd District
______________________________ ______________________________
Saud Anwar Jason Rojas
State Senator, 3rd District State Representative, 9th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Toni Walker Cathy Abercrombie
State Representative 93rd District State Representative 83rd District

Emmett Riley Kevin Ryan
State Representative, 46th District State Representative, 139th District
______________________________ ______________________________
Joe De La Cruz Anthony Nolan
State Representative, 41st District State Representative, 39th District

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