Baird Welch-Collins

bairdfor38@gmail.com
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COVID-19 Recovery 

The economic recovery from the COVID-19 health crisis is going to be a long-term process. I advocate programs that support small businesses and working families who were most significantly impacted by the stay-at-home order. We need to prepare proactively for new waves of COVID-19 and for any possible future pandemics. 

I will work to strengthen our public health agencies, state and local, to incorporate best practices and better prepare for future challenges. We must use the experience gained from the COVID-19 pandemic to prepare for the future and to work with the Governor's office to benefit from our state's success. 

Taxes and State Finances 

I will seek to reform Connecticut's tax system by providing towns the freedom of choice to diversify their sources of revenue to ease the regressive property tax burden on CT residents. I will work to provide an emergency tax relief program for CT working families, similar to policies proposed by the CT Voices for Children (link to plan). Wherever possible, I will seek to eliminate waste and ineffective budgets in the pursuit of lowering cost to the public.

Vacant Spaces and Land Use 

I support establishing an incentive program that would put a slight tax increase on developed lots that haven't been listed for sale or haven't been sold in 5 years. In turn, this tax revenue would fund an incentive for private property owners who hold onto undeveloped land. This will encourage the sale of vacant lots while also maintaining the preservation of undeveloped land.

Millstone Nuclear Power Plant 

I support the continued operation of Millstone Power Plant given the job opportunities that it has provided in our region and its significant contribution to Waterford's tax base. However, we must acknowledge and prepare for the reality that Millstone is likely to begin the shutdown process in the near future. Consequently, there is an urgent need to begin planning NOW for the future of the site and exploring creative re-use opportunities. This kind of planning is not just up to the municipal government but has to be regional at the very least and involves unavoidable federal regulatory implications. Should Dominion decide to close Millstone at any point in the near future, I will support a smooth transition for employees of Millstone who are looking for employment opportunities in our state. 

Transportation and Infrastructure 

Funding for our roads comes from one of two sources: CT-based gas taxes or from tolls. By joining every other state on the I-95 corridor in collecting tolls, we can shift the cost burden from CT residents to the many out of state drivers who pass through without stopping for gas.

However, any plan to bring tolls to CT's highways must be limited, strategic, and purposeful. 

Additionally, we should take steps to reopen and maintain CT's weigh stations. Not only will these provide another revenue source for our state's transportation funds, but doing so will save lives, keep drivers and truckers safe, and reduce the seemingly endless traffic jams caused by overloaded vehicles. 

Economic Development 

At the present time, it is difficult for municipalities like Waterford and Montville to compete with CT's larger cities and towns with attracting businesses to come to our state. I support providing increased opportunities for suburban and rural towns to access state resources and guidance on economic development and marketing.

Environment 

To protect SECT's uniquely diverse environment, I will push for the development of an open-spaces acquisition plan. I will seek to ban or eliminate the most dangerous and long-lasting pesticides which are causing permanent damage to our waterways. I will push for policies that support local farmers and incentivize urban and suburban agriculture.

Energy 

I support increased accessibility to renewable energy investment and installation opportunities, such as virtual net metering. I will continue to support the CT Green Bank and incentives for municipal and private solar and wind generation. I will push for the installation of a state-wide network of electric vehicle DC fast-charging stations. 
Connecticut has an opportunity to become the national leader in offshore wind-energy development. I will work with local and state leaders to promote this vital economic opportunity while prioritizing the environmental integrity of our marine ecosystems. 

Healthcare 

I support universal healthcare. However, enacting this type of program on a state level would not be as efficient as it would be on a federal or regional level. Therefore, I will continue to support CT's current efforts to expand affordable coverage to all while simultaneously encouraging our governor and federal legislators to seek partnerships with nearby states and to promote federally-provided universal healthcare. 

We must continue strengthening and building our healthcare workforce for the 21st century. Our state must use the lessons learned from the pandemic to build a workforce better able to respond to future problems without difficult transitions. This applies to our healthcare infrastructure as well as the education and workforce needed to support it. 

Cannabis Legalization 

I support the immediate legalization of recreational cannabis in CT along with the pardoning of all nonviolent cannabis-related offenses. We would be able to invest the significant tax revenue from legal cannabis sales into public services and tax relief.

Public Banking 

I support the development of a Connecticut Public Bank as a realistic plan to lower taxes, invest in our communities, and keep our tax dollars here in CT. Public banking is no longer optional, it is necessary. No better solution has been proposed to protect CT's taxpayers from the consequences of the most recent economic recession. I support investing taxpayer dollars back into small businesses, especially to help them recover from the COVID-19 health crisis.

Education 

I support expanding opportunities like the Eastern CT Manufacturing Pipeline and advanced technical training for CT youth to prepare them for 21st century jobs. I support the expansion of the Education Cost Sharing Grant to provide state funding for Waterford and Montville public schools. I support providing municipalities with the opportunity to reform bus route policy to allow for greater efficiency of bus routes to save tax-dollars and reduce carbon emissions.

Pensions 

I support protecting defined-benefit pension programs in our state as a way to keep the best and brightest workers in CT and to ensure retirement security for our aging state workforce.

Firearms

I support protecting CT's current gun laws. There is, however, room for improvement. We need to explore opportunities to improve the licensing process for CT gun owners and close any remaining loopholes for Safe Storage laws. I support building a relationship between firearm owners and gun safety advocates to promote policies founded in science, reason, and safety.

Disability Advocacy 

I will prioritize updating Connecticut's out-of-date accessibility legislation to ensure that all of CT's residents have equal opportunities and protection from discrimination. 

Gender Equality 

Womens' rights are human rights. I am an unflinching supporter of protecting all forms of reproductive healthcare. While much progress has been made, more steps need to be taken to protect women from harassment and economic discrimination in the workplace. I support laws that protect victims of domestic violence from being arrested for self defense

LGBTQIA+ Rights 

I support the equal rights of ALL Connecticut residents and will remain a vocal ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. I will introduce legislation to mandate science-based, medically-accurate sexual health education in all of CT's schools. 

Community Safety 

I will not bend on my belief that Black Lives Matter. People of color across the US, not just in large cities, but in towns like Waterford and Montville, do not feel safe in their own towns because of the color of their skin. To that end, I will work with local police departments and the CT state police to abolish elements of racial bias, bigotry, and excessive use of force. I will work to incorporate social services and community organizations to serve as an integral part of CT's Public Safety network.

Opioid Crisis 

I support state funding for programs that practice a harm-reduction model of support for people with Opioid Use Disorder such as Drug Free CT and Ledge Light Health District.

Waste Management 

I support door-to-door composting in CT to ease the burden of our over-stressed waste management system by lowering the amount of organic waste that goes into our solid waste system. We can simultaneously save the environment and save the taxpayers money by reducing the amount of waste the town has to pay to be removed. CT needs to develop a domestic recycling industry to invest in 21st century waste management infrastructure, to end our dependence on foreign recycling industry, and generate jobs here in CT.

Road Maintenance 

I support enacting a state-wide set of sustainable purchasing policies that would help guide towns toward more environmentally-friendly purchases as they spend state tax dollars on responsibly sourced goods and services. Increase support for the program Town Aid Road, a program that helps to fund municipal infrastructure projects. Support maintenance of state roads such as Rt. 1, Rt. 85, and Rt. 32.

Ballot and Election Reform 

I am a strong supporter of permanently bringing the mail-in voting option to Connecticut. The decades-long use of mail-in voting by members of the military, students, and other states has demonstrated this voting method to be safe and reliable. It is the duty of all elected officials to protect our republic and the integrity of our democracy by keeping voting accessible for all citizens. 
To guarantee elections that are fair and representative of the will of the voters, I will work to bring Ranked Choice Voting to Connecticut.