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Saturday, July 14, 2018 8:02 AM

Rep. Fishbein and Sen. Suzio Hosts Successful Town Hall in Cheshire

Rep. Fishbein and State Senator Suzio recently hosted a successful town-hall-style meeting for constituents in the council chambers of the Cheshire Town Hall building.

Many Cheshire residents attended, and listened to a breakdown of the recently-ended 2018 regular and veto sessions, and to ask questions about specific issues. The conversation varied between topics, but most of the evening was spent discussing the state budget deficit, the SEBAC union contract, how those two are linked and how they affect Connecticut’s overall fiscal health. Other topics included the bump stock ban, road and bridge construction and repair, tolls and social safety net programs.

 


Thursday, July 12, 2018 9:36 AM

From the Cheshire Herald Newspaper, 7/12/2018: Battle of Opposites as Fishbein, Fontaine Vie for 90th District Seat

Over the past few years, Dan Fontaine has watched as members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have debated one another over Connecticut’s budget issues.

What Fontaine realized was that none of the state legislators were talking about issues he believes to be important, such as reducing the tax burden on the middle class or having the wealthy pay more to the state.

This year, Fontaine, a 35-yearold co-owner of a software development company, is hoping to help make his preferred changes in state policy a reality. He is running for the state House of Representatives 90th District seat, which covers areas of Wallingford and Cheshire. Fontaine, who previously canvassed for the Working Families Party, is running against first-term Republican Representative Craig Fishbein.

“We need to be honest about the situation we’re in,” stated Fontaine. “We need to be ready to fight for the living standards the working middle class people have been able to achieve in this state, because (they) are very much under attack.”

Fishbein, an attorney with Fishbein Law Firm LLC, serves on the public safety, commerce, and energy and technology committees, and is also a member of the Conservative Caucus. During his first term in office, Fishbein has been criticized for voting against numerous proposals. However, the Wallingford resident stands behind his votes and states that, most times, his stances on issues have been misconstrued.

As an example, Fishbein pointed to his opposition to the “move over” law, which allows local authorities to impose fines on motorists who do not move over for emergency vehicles. One of the bills set out to change the language regarding the maximum fine that could be levied, from “up to $1,500” to “up to $2,500.” Fishbein voted against the changes because it did not increase the minimum fee. As a result of his vote, Fishbein said, he has been painted as someone who opposes the law in its entirety.
“How do you deal with that?” he asked. “All I can know is that, in my heart, I know I did the right thing.”

Both Fontaine and Fishbein admit that they are opposites of one another. Fontaine wants to see the state’s minimum wage increased to $15 and for state colleges to be offered tuition-free. He said he was motivated to engage in the political process during the most recent presidential election by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who wanted to ensure health care access for the general public and to make college affordable.

“Connecticut’s really a microcosm of what’s going on in the broader United States,” Fontaine said. “We are the wealthiest state, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, and we can’t seem to do things that we were able to do 30 to 40 years ago.”

Fontaine argues that, in order to afford a basic apartment and live in Wallingford, the minimum household income needs to be $24 per hour. If two adults are working minimum-wage jobs, Fontaine argues, they cannot afford the apartment. If, however, the minimum wage is increased, that same family could reside Wallingford.

“Some of that value is lost to inflation but, overall, they end up substantially ahead,” Fontaine said. “For most people, there hasn’t been a huge inflationary impact from increasing the minimum wage. We just haven’t seen it.”

Fishbein, on the other hand, believes the minimum wage “should be repealed.” He said that, as a result of the previous minimum wage increases, two of his employees at his law firm were replaced by one part-time staff member. Fishbein added that he cannot afford to hire other employees unless he raises his fees.

“I think the fair market should determine wages,” Fishbein said. “… What people don’t understand— who are proponents of that (the minimum wage)—is things that they buy are then going to cost more, so then it’s cyclical. They’re going to say, ‘My standard of living is such that I need more.’ It just doesn’t make sense.”
Fishbein added that individuals who support a minimum wage that is a “liveable” wage are in favor of mediocrity in the workforce.

“When you say to someone the government is going to mandate you’re paid a living wage, on some level, you’re supporting

mediocrity,” he said. “When people are being paid what they are worth, I would think that people tend to work a little harder.”

To provide tuition-free schools, Fontaine believes that not only should state officials deal with “administrative bloat” at state colleges, but that the Connecticut’s wealthiest residents should be taxed more.

“If we can succeed in getting more tax revenue out of the wealthiest people, we can afford to do these things,” Fontaine said. “We have the wealth here. We’re just not making use of the resources that we have.”
Fontaine insists that the state’s wealthiest have been protected— taxed less than the working middle class for fear that they will leave the state.

“There’s a lot of money behind pushing this narrative that you can’t do anything in terms of taxes on wealthy people because they’ll leave. The data doesn’t bear that out,” he said.

Fishbein disagrees and states that, oftentimes it is “the rich” who are the ones who creating jobs. Increasing their taxes, he believes, will definitely result in them leaving the state.

“Why do we penalize the risktakers and entrepreneurs for being risk takers and entrepreneurs?” Fishbein asked. “Am I jealous for people who make a lot of money? Yeah, but do I try and harm them? No.”

To address the high cost of state colleges, Fishbein said he believes universities should act as “enterprise funds,” with school administrations determining how many students are admitted based on standards such as salary and tuition costs, as well as school size.
“The current system is just wrong,” he said.


Friday, June 15, 2018 10:55 PM

Rep. Fishbein holds successful Coffee & Conversation event at Dad's Restaurant

This morning's Coffee & Conversation event at DAD'S Restaurant was filled with great food, great drink, great people, and great conversation!


Tuesday, June 12, 2018 10:34 PM

OPINION: How Wallingford ended up with its lowest tax increase in a decade - by State Representative Craig Fishbein

Recently, there has been much written about modifications to the Town of Wallingford’s 2018-19 budget. Some of it inaccurate. This column attempts to accurately state the facts, and explain how we got to the present — a very small tax increase.

On May 16, the Town Council received backup for its May 22, regular meeting. Agenda Item #8 was a recommendation from the Mayor to: accept additional revenue from the state, adjust health insurance costs, and lower his tax increase.
This was accompanied by a letter stating the recommendations were authorized by the law department. Before the meeting, I asked Attorney Janis Small about general modifications to the town budget after the date stated in the Charter. She said the only thing we could address was the new state revenue. At that point, I brought to her attention the fact that Agenda Item #8 contained more than that — the health insurance adjustment, a fact of which she was unaware.

About an hour before the meeting, a revised Agenda Item #8 was issued, removing the health insurance item, accompanied by a revised letter from the mayor, omitting the prior representation about the law department’s support for that modification.

At the meeting, the issue became “Can the Town of Wallingford modify its budget after the date stated in the Charter, but before the new fiscal year begins?” The law department reiterated that, except for the new state revenue, the budget could not be otherwise modified because the date in the Charter had passed.

Having conducted my own research, I disagreed. I quoted from Connecticut Supreme Court precedent, as well as from records from other towns, indicating that “shall” in a town Charter (given the timing of the action) could be directory rather than mandatory, and therefore not as draconian as the law department would have.

I then made a motion to modify the mayor’s proposal, expanding it to include additional cuts which I had supported throughout the budget sessions, and had never voted against, even though some writers would have you believe otherwise. Ultimately, with the exception of Councilor Tom Laffin (who voted no) every member of the Town Council in attendance (Councilor Jason Zandri was absent) voted in favor of the motion, passing it 7 to 1. That was followed by a motion for a new, lower mill rate. That motion also passed, and the Town Council effectively passed a modified budget on May 22, 2018, two weeks after the date stated in the Charter.

On May 30, the law department reversed its prior legal opinion, then agreeing with my position of May 22 that, based upon timing, the Town of Wallingford CAN modify just about anything in its budget after the date stated in the Charter — their one caveat being the modification must be by recommendation of the mayor, a point ripe for argument, but need not be the subject of challenge here.

On June 1, based upon this new legal opinion, the mayor recommended almost all of the Town Council’s May 22 modifications. On June 5, the Town Council held a special meeting, at which time I pointed out that the mayor had not vetoed the Town Council’s actions of May 22, and the Charter says if the mayor does not veto a matter within 10 days, the action of the Town Council becomes law. From my perspective, due to the mayor’s refusal to veto, there was nothing for the Town Council to address on June 5 — the May 22 budget having already been passed due to the Mayor's acquiescence. Thus I voted against the item, but it nonetheless passed over my objection, 7 to 1 (Councilor Laffin was absent). The result was a higher tax increase than the budget of May 22, albeit still small.

A recent letter to the editor argued the Town Council should not have followed my direction — a legal opinion about the Charter the law department initially disagreed with, but eventually adopted. (One may remember, not so long ago, I fought the City of Meriden’s law department and their stable of privately hired lawyers about their Charter, the result being that the Connecticut Supreme Court agreed with me.) Here, I think it should be clear that Wallingford’s taxpayers, most especially those on a fixed income, are better off as a result of my taking the time to do the research, and to present a winning argument that, in the end, results in what is believed to be the Town of Wallingford’s lowest tax increase in over a decade.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018 10:49 PM

Rep. Fishbein participates in podcast conducted by Wallingford middle school students

A fantastic morning being interviewed by the students in Mr. Bikakis' Student Enrichment Program (STEM) for their podcast. Alot of interesting and probing questions from these inquisitive young minds! #WallingfordCT #STEM #WallingfordSchools


Thursday, May 31, 2018 11:07 PM

Rep. Fishbein and Fellow Lawmakers Applaud Wallingford's Efforts To Promote STEM Careers

State lawmakers recognized the Town of Wallingford and the Wallingford Public School District for launching a new campaign to boost interest in fields related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at Wallingford's "STEM Town" campaign kickoff at Wallingford HUBCAP  on Thursday, May 31. State Senator Len Fasano and State Representative Craig Fishbein presented a citation on behalf of the entire Wallingford delegation to the town and school district.



"Supporting our students with smart investments in the STEM fields will prepare them for the future and make both Wallingford and Connecticut stronger,"Rep. Fishbein said. "I'm pleased Superintendent Menzo and the Wallingford School District are providing these opportunities and I'm confident our youth will excel in these in-demand fields. Manufacturers across the state have said they are struggling to find qualified employees because many applicants lack the specific skills taught in these very programs. By putting the focus on STEM education, our schools are saving the essence of manufacturing."


Thursday, May 24, 2018 11:00 PM

Rep. Fishbein and Cheshire Delegation Members Honor Essay Winner

During a brief presentation Thursday morning, State Representatives Craig Fishbein and Lezlye Zupkus were joined by principal Scott Jeffrey to honor Leila Hyder, 12, for her women’s history month essay on author Luanne Rice. Leila’s parents, Anita Sharif-Hyder and Fahmeed Hyder, surprised their daughter by attending the presentation.

The Women’s History Month essay contest titled, “Important Women in Connecticut’s History and How Their Contributions to the State and Nation Affect Me,” was organized by Rep. Fishbein to honor Women’s History Month. Unfortunately, due to the legislative session the legislators were unable to meet with Miss Hyder during March. During the presentation before her 6th grade class, Hyder was given an official state citation and explained who author Luanne Rice is, and how she overcame incredible difficulty to become a respected author, before posing for pictures with her parents, the legislators, school officials and her classmates.


Sunday, April 22, 2018 8:38 PM

OPINION: How has Connecticut become so screwed up? by State Representative Craig Fishbein

People ask a lot of questions about my role as a legislator.
They ask about the Capitol building, the district and the process of moving bills through committee, among others. The question I’m asked most frequently is, “how has the state become so screwed up?” Anyone who has given even a cursory look into the process knows that question is
difficult to answer.

However, one of the more important reasons the state is in the mess it’s in is because of emotion. Many legislators vote on items based upon the title of the bill instead of what is written in the legislation, what it means and what it will ultimately do.


Saturday, April 21, 2018 8:43 PM

Come Join Representative Fishbein for CT Trails Day 2018!


Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:00 AM

Wallingford state lawmaker to address gun rights rally at Capitol on Saturday

WALLINGFORD — The state’s largest pro-gun rights group will hold a rally at the state Capitol on Saturday in response to rallies held following the Florida school shooting. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League will hold a “Rally for Our Rights” on the north steps of the Capitol, facing Bushnell Park, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The group’s president, Scott Wilson, said the rally is “at least in part a response to the recent gun control rallies.”

The rally will have several speakers, including state Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford.  Fishbein said “Unfortunately, some people are misinformed as to guns and gun laws. Unfortunately, some people blame guns for tragedies where in other instances they blame the person. I know. I used to be one of those people, but have since learned differently.”

 


Tuesday, April 3, 2018 12:00 AM

Rep. Fishbein Named Affordable Utilities Champion by AARP

State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90) was presented with the 2017 AARP Affordable Utilities Champion for his leadership and support of policies that aim to reduce the burden of utility costs for all people, especially seniors, across the state.


“I’m honored AARP chose to recognize my work on behalf of seniors across our state, and I remain committed to policies that promote fiscal restraint while serving all residents, including Connecticut’s elderly population,” Rep. Fishbein said.

“AARP’s 600,000 members in Connecticut applaud the efforts of Representative Fishbein to help keep utilities affordable in Connecticut,” John Erlingheuser, AARP Connecticut director of advocacy and outreach, said. “His strong voice in opposition to the subsidization of the profitable Millstone Nuclear Power Plant was admirable.”

The AARP Affordable Utilities Champion award was presented in recognition of Rep. Fishbein’s “leadership on affordable utilities and his steadfast advocacy in helping to protect Connecticut ratepayers from unreasonable rate hikes, including his opposition to proposed changes to the Millstone plant,” AARP said.


Monday, March 26, 2018 12:00 AM

Rep. Fishbein Attends Annual Agricultural Day at the Capitol

Rep. Craig Fishbein recently spent time touring displays and speaking with representatives of multiple agricultural groups and organizations during the annual Agriculture Day at the state capitol. During the event, Rep. Fishbein ran into longtime friend, and former Wallingford school district employee, Sharlene Wong, of the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut, before trying a cup of New England clam chowder provided by Kane’s Market in Simsbury. Other groups at the event included, Connecticut DEEP, The Agriculture Experiment Station, apple growers, maple syrup producers, dairy farmers, among others.


Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:00 AM

State finance committee not buying tax break for gun safes


Tuesday, March 20, 2018 12:00 AM

Rep. Fishbein Honors Eagle Scout Joseph Bernick

State Representative Craig Fishbein presented an official state citation to Eagle Scout Joseph Bernick during his Eagle Court of Honor at St. Paul’s Church in Wallingford on Sunday, March 18.

Joseph Bernick follows in the footsteps of both his father, John, and older brother, Mark, who also attained the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The celebration included candle lighting traditions, the Boy Scout Oath, Eagle Oath, presentations from local, state and Boy Scout dignitaries and family remarks.

Joseph’s Eagle Scout service project was the design, planning and installation of a new fence behind the Franklin Johnson Mansion on South Main Street.


Friday, March 16, 2018 12:00 AM

Rep. Fishbein: Let Fiscally Prudent Municipalities Protect Reserves

State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90) today testified before the Planning and Development Committee in support of legislation he co-sponsored that would hold municipalities harmless for maintaining or building financial reserves during arbitration matters.

Senate Bill 421 – An Act Concerning Municipal Budget Reserves For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2019 – would mandate arbitration panels “give priority to the public interest and the financial capability of the municipal employer, including consideration of other demands on the financial capability of the municipal employer” and maintain “an irrebuttable presumption that a municipal employer’s budget reserve of fifteen per cent or less of the municipal employer’s operating budget [reserve] is not available for payment of the cost of any item subject to negotiation or arbitration under this chapter.”

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Thursday, March 8, 2018 6:13 PM

Rep. Fishbein Reads to 5th Graders at Mary Fritz Elementary

In honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday and donning a “Cat in the Hat” hat, State Representative Craig Fishbein recently spent part of a morning reading to 5th graders at Wallingford’s Mary Fritz Elementary School.

Despite a winter storm, Rep. Fishbein was able to read two books – the Seuss classic “What Pet Should I Get” and “What Do You Do With An Idea?” by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom – to Michelle Jones and Jenn Leonard’s classes that were assembled inside the media center.

After he finished reading and talking to the students about his role in the legislature, Rep. Fishbein donated the Seuss book to the school and gave his hat to one lucky student.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:26 PM

Rep. Fishbein Testifies in Favor of Stronger Opiate Laws

In further efforts to reduce opiate abuse statewide, State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90) this week testified in favor of strengthening current state law to hold opiate prescribers accountable for improper record keeping with regard to distribution of controlled substances.

Under Public Act 13-172, passed in 2013, the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) requires weekly “prescription information reporting by out-of-state pharmacies that ship, mail, or deliver prescription drugs into the state and any other drug dispensing practitioner.” Practitioners are defined as “certain medical professionals, researchers, pharmacies, hospitals, and other people or institutions permitted to dispense drugs in the course of professional practice or research.” These statistics are used by the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to collect prescription information to prevent improper or illegal drug use. Unfortunately, not all prescribers are following the law.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:25 PM

Rep. Fishbein, Legislators Host Cheshire Town Hall Meeting

State Representatives Craig Fishbein and Lezlye Zupkus, and State Senators Joe Markley and Len Suzio recently hosted a pre-session, town-hall-style meeting for constituents where they discussed the long 2017 regular and special session and the recently convened 2018 session.

A large part of the conversation was centered on Connecticut’s continual budget crisis, state spending and taxation, and how the state can reduce the deficit while also funding critical state services. Transportation, especially with regard to the potential for the implementation of tolls, also took up a large part of the meeting.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:23 PM

Rep. Fishbein Continues to Vote Against Increasing State Budget Deficit

Continuing to vote against measures that add to the state deficit, State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90) today voted against a veto override to restore Medicare Savings Plan funding until July 1.

The legislation, initially passed on January 8 and vetoed by Governor Malloy, restores funds for the state Medicare Savings Plan for half of the budget cycle but fails to address the program’s future, unbalances the present budget and creates an additional $17.8 million deficit for 2019.

The Medicare Savings Plan (MSP), a state program to help seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare coinsurance, deductibles and premiums, was reduced with passage of the bipartisan budget late last year. The program is administered to qualified individuals based on income eligibility limits. In the meantime, Governor Malloy delayed implementation of the cuts until the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

“I support the program and its recipients but I could not cast a vote to increase the state budget deficit, and certainly not when it only creates a 5-month, temporary reprieve,” Rep. Fishbein said. “When I voted against the original bill I said the program needed substantial overhaul to better serve the people it is intended to serve.”


Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:22 PM

Rep. Fishbein Honors Joe Dacunto

State Representative Craig Fishbein and State Senator Len Fasano joined dozens of firefighters, family, friends and well-wishers to honor Joe Dacunto for 53 years of service as a Volunteer Fire Chief and Firefighter to the Town of Wallingford.

Inside the large apparatus bay at Wallingford Fire Department’s Company 7 on North Farms Road, local elected officials and former coworkers shared heartwarming, and sometimes hilarious, stories of his time serving the town as a firefighter, fire chief and public works employee.

During the formal portion of the event, Mayor Dickinson announced January 22, 2018, as Joe Dacunto Day in the town and Rep. Fishein and Sen. Fasano presented an official state citation on behalf of the entire Wallingford delegation.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018 5:20 PM

Rep. Fishbein Votes Against Increasing State Budget Deficit

State Representative Craig Fishbein (R-90) today voted against legislation which restored funds for the state Medicare Savings Plan for half of the budget cycle, pointing out that it failed to address the program’s future, unbalances the present budget and creates an additional $17.8 million deficit for 2019.

The Medicare Savings Plan (MSP), a state program to help seniors and the disabled pay for Medicare coinsurance, deductibles and premiums, was reduced with passage of the bipartisan budget late last year. The program is administered to qualified individuals based on income eligibility limits. In the meantime, Governor Malloy delayed implementation of the cuts until the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

“I am supportive of this program and its recipients but voted against this temporary fix because it increases our already ballooning state deficit and became irrelevant once Governor Malloy suspended the cuts through the end of the current fiscal year,” Rep. Fishbein said. “Adding to the state deficit without making substantial changes to offset those costs is the definition of kicking the can down the road and is not how the legislature should treat the people of our state, or manage the budget. We’re currently facing another projected $224 million deficit, and with the governor’s six month delay it made little sense to take today’s action especially considering we’ll be debating this very issue in the coming months as we wrestle with our current deficit, and projected future deficits.”

The current budget banks $17.8 million from the FY18 and carries that money forward into FY19. By the action of the legislature today, this carryforward was repealed.
“Eliminating the carryover alone would create at least another $17.8 million hole in our state budget,” Rep. Fishbein said. “Moving forward, I am hopeful we will be able to better anticipate such expenses and create a truly balanced budget that provides for continuation of important services while also being fiscally viable.”


Fishbein for Connecticut - Jo-Anne L. Rusczek, Treasurer - Approved by Craig Fishbein
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