Updated: Oct 24
Read responses on the Fairfield Senior Advocates website.
Question 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.
GAVIN: I firmly believe we owe it to the seniors in our community to help them comfortably age in place. I am in full support of the most recent budget passed in Hartford which ensures seniors can fully deduct income from pensions and annuities from their taxes. This is a pressing issue, so it’s crucial to take action now, rather than gradually phase tax relief for seniors. There is still more work to be done to ensure our seniors receive the dignity and respect in retirement they deserve. That is why I support expanding the income cap for tax relief to allow more seniors to take advantage of the afore-mentioned exemption and also investigating other areas, specifically healthcare and housing costs, the State may potentially offer relief to seniors.
In tandem with those two measures, I would also seek to sponsor a bill which converted the current “cliff effect” model of income cutoffs to a scale that reduces tax relief relative to income. No one should be concerned that crossing a particular income threshold could result in State-induced financial devastation, especially our seniors.
Question 2: Recently enacted PA 22-18 permits only a phased in tax exemption on IRA income (other than Roth IRA income):
Tax year 2023 = 25%
Tax year 2024 = 50%
Tax year 2025 = 75%
Tax year 2026 = 100%
For many seniors, IRA income is the only supplemental income to their social security safety net. Would you support an acceleration of the above phase-in? If yes, would you be willing to sponsor and/or co-sponsor such a bill?
GAVIN: Yes, I would support an acceleration of the tax exemption on IRA income. With the dual-financial-threat of inflation exacerbating the rise in cost of living here in Connecticut there is not a moment to waste in delivering impactful, direct aid to our most vulnerable populations, including seniors. I would be proud to sponsor a bill which brought forward the date of full Exemption. Given Connecticut’s strong fiscal health, I can think of no better use of our surpluses
then to help alleviate tax barriers which put stress on Connecticut’s senior population.
Question 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?
(1) The lack of affordable housing options in Connecticut is a crisis. Without more middle-income options we will struggle to attract new, young workers who will help drive our economy and retain our seniors' whose wisdom and stewardship have allowed CT to prosper. As such, two priorities of mine as your State Senator will be: reducing restrictions to the construction of studio and one-bedroom additions to single-family homes and fostering more public-private partnership to increase the construction of mixed-used apartment complexes.
(2) Easing the process of approving small additions to residential properties would serve to increase the stock of affordable, smaller units in our communities. This would also remove obstacles to finding in-home care by allowing seniors to construct apartments for relatives or professionals who provide around-the-clock support. Finally, these additions offer potential revenue streams via creating rental properties for mortgage-burdened property owners.
(3) Facilitating public-private partnerships to share the cost of constructing multi-use apartments would increase the availability of smaller apartments, provide opportunities for young professionals and seniors to live in central, easily accessible locations, and promote economic growth. These two measures could go a long way in ensuring Connecticut residents are never forced to choose between staying in our state or moving elsewhere because they cannot afford to live here.
Question 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?
GAVIN: The pandemic brutally demonstrated the sorry regulatory state currently in place meant to govern the way long term care facilities operate. First and foremost, increasing State-funded measures meant to keep residents of assisted-living, retirement, and hospice-care communities safe, such as random inspections to verify health standards and grants to subsidize more on-site nurses, is paramount to keeping seniors healthy.
Beyond those initial steps, I strongly support requiring prescription drug companies to provide samples to generic drug manufacturers to create cheaper versions of the same life-saving medications. I also believe the State should do more to hold insurance companies responsible for deceptive marketing practices which misrepresent or hide the details of certain health
insurance policies. One final policy I’d expand upon as State Senator is the recent elimination of co-pays for homecare programs. Ensuring those co-pays remain non-existent and expanding eligibility for that program would be one of my chief priorities. Taken together, I wish to convey that I will firmly fight to reduce the health care burdens and reckless long term care practices which unfairly and disproportionately harm our seniors.
Question 5: A Community Ombudsman Program for Home Carewas 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?
GAVIN: Yes, I would seek additional funding for both programs and would gladly co-sponsor a bill to that effect. It’s unfortunate that my opponent Senator Hwang voted against the budget implementer, which funded this critical program. If elected, as part of the increased spending measure I would also include an amendment focused on promoting awareness around the rights seniors retain relative to initiating an Ombudsman investigation. The reality is, though the Ombudsman offers oversight where it is desperately needed, the office requires direction from seniors to launch investigations. Given it is a relatively new office, I believe the State should be informing seniors and their families of their rights to initiate inquiries into potentially illegal behavior so they are more empowered to hold institutional care facilities accountable.
Question 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?
GAVIN: I would absolutely support and be willing to sponsor such a bill as elder abuse, in all forms, remains far too pervasive a reality in our society. Furthermore, once enacting this piece of legislation I would then sponsor an additional piece of legislation aimed at protecting our seniors from predatory internet practices and exploitative algorithms. Pushing expensive versions of medication, misrepresenting products, and asking for private information under false pretenses as a loved one are all trends currently targeting seniors online. I will leverage my background in tech safety to pass landmark legislation meant to rein in big tech, compelling these corporations to change their corporate policies to ensure our seniors are treated with the respect and fairness they deserve.