Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

Photo of Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr..

STATE SENATOR

Ted Kennedy, Jr.

Listening to You

Promoting Education for People with Disabilities

I recently hosted the Special Education Parent Teacher Organization Network’s Special Education Day at the State Capitol where we highlighted the importance of providing all Connecticut students with a high-quality education. Our students who have benefited from special education make a major contribution to our economy and to our richness as a society, and that is why it is so important to highlight the importance of special education programs in our schools.

SEPTO

Also at the event was Madison native Devin O'Connell, a professional race car driver who is on the Autism spectrum. Devin is an incredible young man who shatters stereotypes about people with disabilities. This year, Kevin is offering special education students a chance to submit their own "stories of courage." Several of those students will be chosen to become honorary members of his pit crew.

Protecting Our Parks with Bipartisan Support

Democrats and Republicans both agree on the critical importance of protecting Connecticut's state parks system. Connecticut's state parks are some of our state's greatest assets, and since my first term in the state Senate as Senate Chair of the Environment Committee, I have been working to preserve these environmental assets for generations to come. I have introduced a number of bills that seek to create dedicated funding streams which will make our parks more sustainable and self-sufficient. Connecticut is one of only three states that funds its state parks entirely from general fund revenue, which makes park funding very susceptible to budget cuts during difficult budget times at the Capitol. One idea that has gained a lot of momentum this year with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle is the creation of a "Passport to the Parks."

The idea of this "passport" is that all Connecticut residents would receive unlimited access to our state parks in exchange for paying $10 every two years as part of their vehicle registration fee. This is a great bargain for Connecticut residents and our state parks system. For example, the current parking fee at Hammonasset State Park is $13 for a single day on the weekend. The passport to the parks would be a one-time charge that would let Connecticut residents drive past every admission booth at our state parks without paying a cent. In exchange, the passport fee is expected to generate funds that will go a long way toward saving our parks and bringing them some much-needed stability.

Our state parks provide great recreational opportunities for Connecticut residents but are also a vital piece of our economy. A 2011 study conducted at UConn shows that Connecticut's parks make an annual contribution of over 9,000 private sector jobs and $1.2 billion to the economy. According to this study, every $1 spent on state parks returns $38 to Connecticut's economy.

Tune in for "Building a Great Life"

I had the opportunity to be interviewed for "Building a Great Life," a documentary on Connecticut Public Television (CPTV) that examines the case for closing Connecticut's state institutions that provide congregate residential care for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The documentary explores the question of whether closing the Southbury Training School and similar institutions would generate enough cost savings for us to help the 2,000 Connecticut families current on a waiting list for state support. As a health care attorney and lifelong advocate for people with disabilities, this issue is one of great importance to me, and I was honored to be asked to participate. If you would like to view the documentary, it will air on CPTV on May 21 at 6:00 p.m. and again on June 19 at 10:00 p.m.