Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney’s Opening Day Remarks
Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) today delivered remarks following his reelection as leader of the Senate:
I am happy and grateful to be here this morning and to have the support of the Democratic Caucus and the goodwill of the Republican Caucus to serve as President Pro Tempore of our beloved State Senate.
I could not begin my remarks today without acknowledging my loving, patient smart and beautiful wife Ellen. Words cannot do justice to the depths of my love for you and just how lucky I feel to be able to share a life with you.
To the Honorable Judge Brian Fischer and his wonderful wife Katie, your kindness, generosity and courage are truly awe-inspiring and will allow me to spend more Christmases and New Years with Ellen, Michael, Becky, Matthew and Anna Katherine. Thank you, Judge Fischer for this amazing gift. Thank you for being here today.
Volunteer live donors like Judge Fischer, Mayor Dan Drew of Middletown and former East Haven Mayor April Capone are the heroes in our midst here today. Additionally, I’d like to thank Dr. Sanjay Kulkarni of the Yale New Haven Transplantation Center for his wonderful care and joining us today.
To my Democratic partner—our Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff—the caucus has come to rely on your sound policy and political analysis. I look forward to our continued partnership.
To my friend Senator Fasano—our friendship extends beyond the Senate chamber and the halls of the Capitol and while we may disagree on any number of policies we have often been able to find common ground on important issues, notably An Act Concerning Hospitals, Insurers and Health Care Consumers of the 2015 session that is increasingly seen as a national model on health care policy, especially regarding hospital acquisitions of physician practices and on regulation of facility fees.
It is a great privilege to address this chamber once again as the Senate President Pro Tempore. Your faith in me reminds me again of the great responsibility we all have to this chamber and to the people of Connecticut.
This evenly divided chamber should be a place where ideas—no matter how ambitious or modest, Republican or Democratic—should be vigorously discussed in the open and in public.
With bipartisan power comes bipartisan responsibility and accountability—if you have a proposal, bring it to the floor for a vote. Members from both parties should be prepared for this chamber to be a place of intense and robust debate where the outcome of votes on legislation is not predetermined.
Let the next two years be a measure of our capacity to put aside our partisan armor and work together to build:
- a better Connecticut,
- a stronger Connecticut, and
- a more compassionate Connecticut where no one is left behind.
We must challenge ourselves to harness the innovation and talent overflowing from our universities and state colleges to create good jobs that pay well and offer the hope of advancement.
We can build a future and a Connecticut that is a place of opportunity for all—not only for the privileged few.
Connecticut is not the only state facing challenges but in a difficult national economy we have risen to meet these challenges to build a better Connecticut and move our state forward.
In recent years, in Connecticut, lawmakers have had the courage to:
- raise the minimum wage,
- enact paid sick leave,
- create an Earned Income Tax Credit for the working poor
- fight for cleaner air and water,
- bring fairness to our car tax system,
- enable the largest expansion of pre-kindergarten in our history,
- fund Job Training through the STEP-Up programs and loans and grants of the Small Business Express program,
- And we have partnered with our largest employers to keep high quality manufacturing jobs here in Connecticut
And as we focus on businesses large and small we must ask ourselves if we are doing enough for middle income families and those who hold 2 and 3 low wage jobs trying to work their way into the middle class.
We will also fight back against attacks on women’s health, the environment, individual civil rights and on Connecticut’s families. We will not allow the bigotry, cruelty and reckless character assassination that has turned national politics into a cesspool to undermine our public discourse here in Connecticut.
This can be the year we continue that progress and:
- enact an employee-based paid family leave law because everyone should be able to care for a a newborn child, a sick family member or for themselves in the event of an illness without the added stress of a financial hardship.
- strengthen Connecticut’s laws against hate crimes, in the face of rising instances of bias, and
- exempt all social security income from the income tax, to help seniors live financially secure retirements without a financial incentive to leave Connecticut.
- resist the temptation to sacrifice essential services for short-term savings
- recognize that sustained investment in physical infrastructure and human capital rather than across the board retrenchment is the best way to build toward the prosperous future we invasion for Connecticut
There are only 728 days left in this legislative term and no day is guaranteed. We can do this.
I just mentioned the number of days in our term because after going through what I have experienced over the last several months; one begins to think a lot about numbers. So please, if you wouldn’t mind indulging me I believe I have a responsibility to offer this “public service announcement.”
Currently, there are roughly 120,000 people on the kidney transplant waiting list. The wait for a deceased donor could be 5 years, and in some states, it is closer to 10 years.
I’m one of the roughly 16,000 people last year who received a kidney transplant. I’m one of the lucky few —about 5,000 or so in any given year—who were able to find a compatible volunteer living donor.
The final number I’ll provide you is 866-925-3897—that’s the number for the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center. I would encourage anyone who is interested, willing or knows someone in need to call. Volunteer living donors can provide a literal lifeline to families in need.
Thank you for that indulgence.
To our new colleagues: I say ‘welcome’ to this historic chamber
To my returning colleagues: it is truly a blessing to be with you here today.
Let’s get to work.