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Connecticut Democratic Party Platform

PREAMBLE 

Connecticut Democrats reaffirm, now more than ever, our commitment to rebuild prosperity and restore opportunity for all people. From town councils to the state legislature to the United States Congress, and from city halls to the Governor’s Office, Connecticut Democrats will listen and lead. We will be on the side of people striving for good jobs at fair wages, quality health care, educational excellence, prudent fiscal management, and an equal opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Connecticut faced staggering budget deficits due to past Republican leadership, yet Democrats have now balanced the budget, and are focused on paying down our long-term debt and restoring our Rainy Day Fund. We believe budgets are a reflection of our priorities as a state, and therefore Democrats are proud that education and job creation have driven each of the budgets for the last four years.The budgets passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor have reflected the core principles of the Democratic Party. These budgets protect safety nets, ensure the government continues to deliver quality services, and support our towns and cities.

We reaffirm the principles and pledges that are the core of our Party Platform:

We hold that the principle of public service must rise above that of self-interest. We believe that the role of government is to foster opportunity for all people, provide security to those in need, and remain fiscally responsible and accountable to the public. We commit ourselves to improving the quality of life
for all the people of Connecticut – from our largest cities to our smallest towns.

We are proud to be the Party that led the nation in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act which helped more than 200,000 Connecticut residents obtain quality, affordable health coverage.

As a Party, we respect the rights of people and assure that all laws, rights, or privileges shall be upheld, regardless of a person’s age, ethnicity, race, country of origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability or political affiliation.

Additionally, we commit to the continued protection of the right of choice for all women as guaranteed by law. Connecticut is a state in which same-sex marriage is legal and we uphold the principle that same-sex couples deserve equal rights, protections and responsibilities under the law. We support fair and responsible state budgets that ensure basic human needs are met throughout the state. Those budgets must also make sure that the promise of opportunity is fulfilled today, and in the years ahead, for our children, families, workforce, senior citizens and veterans.

As we continue to grow our economy, we recognize that Connecticut must be prepared to use the tools of state government to be responsive to the needs of the private sector to enhance smart growth. Connecticut must continue to improve the economic environment for existing businesses while also
working to attract businesses from around the world. We also affirm that the state must continue to help small and large businesses retain and create jobs even during national recessions.

As a Party, we support a sound energy policy that helps consumers, local governments, and businesses. In developing and implementing the state’s first ever Comprehensive Energy Strategy, Connecticut is leading the nation in improving energy efficiency and reducing costs for both residents and consumers, which is helping to make the state more competitive and helping to create good jobs. These efforts to bring down costs, in conjunction with strengthening the state’s energy resiliency, have set a bold and innovative energy agenda in Connecticut.

We support sound, responsible foreign policy that is grounded in the basic tenet that we will work with our allies to address global tensions and strive for a world that includes protection of human rights for all people. We also pledge to do everything possible to support courageous active-duty personnel,
reservists, National Guard members and veterans.

We will strive to uphold individual dignity and embrace the value of diversity, while working to preserve and promote the sense of community that unites us all in our daily struggles and successes. We are a people of many faiths, practices and beliefs, and we know that religion can be an important
part of many of our communities. We believe that respect for diversity and all traditions will create a
stronger society as a whole.

We will foster a government that speaks directly and honestly to its constituents – a government in which our citizens can trust and actively participate.

The foundation of our Platform is one that measures our success by the success of the communities in which we live. The values of our platform include: An accessible and thriving education system from birth through workforce, an economic recovery shared by all, safe state infrastructure, equal
protection under the law, and an overall good quality of life. Each principle containing meaningful action items for the people of Connecticut:

Strengthening Our Education System

An educated population is vital to our state’s economic growth and quality of life. Connecticut Democrats are dedicated to providing every Connecticut child and resident with a good education regardless of their zip code or their parent’s financial situation. This includes working towards universal access to a quality pre-kindergarten education. Even in a difficult fiscal climate, Connecticut Democrats ensured that no
district lost money and that the districts most in need saw significant increases in their Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant. This ensured that teachers have received more of the resources they needed to do their jobs and ensured that state funding would not be the cause of any layoff throughout this state – unlike most other states around the nation.

We recognize the vital role Connecticut educators play in every child’s educational experience, and pledge to engage teachers, administrators, and parents as we continue to move toward a system of public education focused on equity and excellence.

Connecticut’s education system also provides opportunities for students seeking trade or technical education. Connecticut Democrats have recognized and supported our Connecticut Technical High School System with resources and a renewed focus on ensuring every child has a chance to learn the skills necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.

Connecticut Democrats also know that our state’s long-term prosperity depends on a system of public higher education that is characterized by excellence at every level, access for students of all backgrounds and ages, and responsiveness to the needs of our rapidly changing society. Over the last few years, Connecticut has made major investments in our colleges and universities so our students can graduate with a world-class education, and can compete in the global economy.

A strong higher education system also requires a system that is affordable and accessible. State government has demonstrated the capacity and willingness to support innovative college savings programs, as well as funding critical state sponsored scholarship programs to make it easier for families to lessen the burden of paying for college. And finally, we are proud as Democrats that we have enabled undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition – making it easier for those hardworking students to receive a quality higher education and to earn the skills to find a job here in Connecticut.

Rebuilding Our Economy & Creating Good Paying Jobs

Expanding Connecticut’s job base is essential to reviving, sustaining, and growing the state’s economy. The growth of good paying jobs is crucial to Connecticut’s economic future and preventing our people, particularly young adults, from moving to other states in search of opportunities.

Connecticut must not only compete for jobs from around the nation, but we must continue to take steps to grow jobs at home. We do this by developing a forward-looking strategy that takes advantage of Connecticut’s existing strengths to encourage and attract emerging business while enhancing our existing industrial base. By making investments in critical industries from manufacturing to bioscience, Connecticut is able to take advantage of its assets and position itself for future growth.

Connecticut Democrats recognize the importance of small businesses in growing the state’s economy and we are committed to engaging with companies and entrepreneurs around the state. Providing grants and loans to support these individuals, particularly women and minority business owners, is crucial to continue growing our local economies.

We are committed to utilizing all of the tools at the disposal of state government to promote diversity in both our economic base and workforce to protect the State’s economic prosperity. We also recognize that a strong transportation system and a sound energy policy are key to a growing economy. Additionally, Connecticut Democrats embrace the critical role of protecting workers’ rights and empowering them to raise a family on a fair wage.

Protecting Our Workforce to Provide a Fair Paying Job with Good Benefits

Connecticut Democrats believe that we must balance our drive to create jobs with our obligation to support our labor force with measures of protection. We want to ensure our workers are respected, treated fairly and compensated appropriately. That is why we are proud to have led the nation in raising the minimum wage to $10.10. It’s why we became the first state in the nation to require private companies of a certain size to
provide paid sick leave for their employees. Thanks to Connecticut Democrats, hardworking residents are not forced to come to work when they are sick for fear of losing their job. We believe that workers have the right to collectively bargain and we will fight to protect that right. We also believe that the labor movement plays an important role in defending all workers’ rights and improving the lives of working families.

Supporting for Connecticut’s Young Adults

Recognizing the challenges faced by our young people – our future leaders – Connecticut Democrats will continue to engage young adults in the political process, support policies that will keep them safe and healthy, and promote efforts that will open more opportunities for them in Connecticut. We understand our obligation to prepare our young people with the skills and tools they need to compete in the global
economy. We are dedicated to maintaining and expanding training and placement programs to help our young adults find employment, raise a family, and contribute to their communities.

Supporting Our Veterans

We are 100% committed to treating our veterans and their families with dignity, respect and compassion as they reintegrate into civilian life. We will ensure that returning military personnel and veterans are welcomed home with honor, and provided access to quality health care and behavioral health services. As veterans return home, it is particularly important to make certain that they have access to quality educational opportunities, workforce training, and employment services. The state should continue to bridge the gap between employers and veterans, and promote the many benefits of hiring a veteran. We fully support the State of Connecticut’s investments in housing, placement, workforce development and other services to end homelessness for veterans by 2015.

Protecting Connecticut’s Most Vulnerable

Democrats believe that the state budget must not be balanced on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens – seniors, children, residents with physical and developmental disabilities, unemployed residents and others. The state must provide adequate social services, and should strive to improve the quality of these services. We believe it is critical to consolidate and streamline services for seniors so they receive the attention and services they have earned. This includes creating policies that help seniors stay in their homes.

Adapting to Climate Change

Climate change is real and is impacting our way of life. There is little doubt that we have experienced the results of climate change in the extreme weather that our state has faced over the last several years. And as a state, we must work hard to adjust to how we prepare for and respond to natural disasters. This means focusing on research that can help predict weather changes, advocating for sound climate policy, and protecting our natural resources and environment for the next generation.

Creating a Resilient State

The Governor has the authority and obligation to coordinate state agencies, collaborate with municipalities, community partners, nonprofits, and other local agencies to help Connecticut residents in times of need. This means developing a platform for training and preparedness drills, a unified response and a plan for long-term recovery. State government has the capacity to convene partners to make certain that all relevant stakeholders are in a place to deliver the necessary support to residents around the state. The state must make certain that our communities can recover regardless of what befalls them.

Maintaining a Safe & Secure State

Connecticut Democrats are proud to stand behind the common sense gun violence prevention measures that were enacted in Connecticut. We respect and honor the proud history and culture of responsible gun ownership, and sporting in this state. Yet we believe the measures enacted were important steps to ensure the safety of our children and our communities. We also believe there must be a continued commitment to combat urban violence through community policing, and by engaging faith and neighborhood leaders to offer alternatives for our young people. Education and employment are critical to making certain our youth find their own paths to success.

We support the state’s continued commitment to maintaining funding for municipal police and fire departments through responsible state budgeting. This commitment has ensured that towns and cities have the resources to deploy their law enforcement personnel in ways that best fit the needs of their unique communities.

Strengthening Communities Through Regional Partnerships

We understand our nation, our state, and our municipalities are facing pressing budgetary challenges. We believe communities should have the ability and choice to develop regional partnerships in order to meet the needs of their residents. These partnerships should be incentivized if they deliver better and more efficient services for the residents of our municipalities.

Supporting Our Small Towns

Small towns have an important place in the fabric of our state. We recognize that one size does not fit all municipalities when it comes to regulations and governmental structures. We will seek to enhance the strengths of smaller towns and empower them with the tools they need to thrive. We support the state’s commitment to making economic assistance available to municipalities that operate on very limited budgets. It is very important that Connecticut’s small towns have the same opportunities as large cities to undertake projects that will improve the quality of life of their residents.

Revitalizing Urban & Livable Communities

We are committed to working with our cities in their efforts to build strong urban centers. This includes utilizing sustainable development policies to create a blend of vibrant business and community housing options, and offering an array of recreational opportunities and programs for people of all ages.

Providing Quality & Affordable Housing That Maintains Unique Character of our Towns & Cities

Connecticut has a wide variety of communities, but a diversity of quality housing is often out of reach for working families. State and local governments must work collaboratively to address this challenge by reforming the property tax system, providing incentives for first-time home buyers, and encouraging smart growth development. All Connecticut residents should have the opportunity to live in the communities of
their choice. We pledge to support policies and programs that help seniors remain in the homes they built and in which they raised their families. Through investments in affordable housing, we can foster an environment where all residents can focus on finding work and raising a family while living in safe communities.

Ensuring a Strong Transportation Network

Connecticut Democrats understand the important role a robust transportation system plays in revitalizing our state’s economy. We believe that there must be a forward-looking, comprehensive plan for strategic investments in infrastructure. We recognize that we will not resolve our transportation needs overnight. Connecticut’s transportation system has critical and immediate needs, and those must also be met. Incorporating alternative modes of transportation, such as rail and busways, is critical to any long-term planning as we work to ease the congestion of our highway system. Connecticut has the opportunity to take advantage of the rapid bus system that is under construction as well as the wealth of water assets that could be utilized as part of a port system. Connecticut Democrats must demand higher quality rail service from providers such as Metro-North, while at the same time continuing to invest in rail modernization. There is never an excuse for a service provider to make a choice between safety and timeliness – there must be an obligation to the highest degree of service on both fronts. Providers must also be responsive to the changing needs and demands of Connecticut commuters.

Ensuring Transparency & Accessibility in Government

Connecticut Democrats believe that it is important for residents to access data and information regarding their state government. Government should be responsive and serve all of our communities’ needs to the best of its ability. This means making regulations and government documents accessible and easy to understand so the public can hold their government accountable. The utilization of technology and new media by all levels of government is critical in helping residents understand and access the services that are available to them.

Protecting Elections & Voting Rights

Connecticut Democrats believe that all citizens’ right to vote must be protected. Accessibility is key to engaging the electorate and avoiding cynicism and voter apathy. We believe that voting rights and expanding access to the poll should be expanded, not restricted. To that end we support efforts to establish methods of early voting that will help to engage more residents and ensure government is responsive and responsible to our communities. Additionally, we uphold the principles of clean elections and will fight to protect that system. We support the fundamental goals of the Citizens’ Election Program which established a public financing system for candidates for state and legislative office.

Supporting a Respected Foreign Policy

We support efforts to build international alliances in order to maximize 21st century economic opportunities as well as combat transnational threats. We understand that solving problems such as terrorism, climate change, nuclear proliferation, economic dislocation, genocide and pandemics require international cooperation.

We believe the use of diplomacy, defense, and development assistance is necessary to protecting our interests abroad and at home. We support policies that protect Americans around the globe and actions that are taken against those who would seek to do us harm. We support the men and women of the Connecticut National Guard, our Armed Forces and our veterans. We owe all those who serve and our veterans a debt we can never repay, and we thank them and their families for their selfless service.

As Democrats, we are guided by the principles of fairness and equality. We believe in strengthening our education system, promoting an economic recovery that is shared by all and helps expand the middle class, the right to fair and decent wages, and a quality of life that attracts people to raise families here in Connecticut.