Cathy Osten


Cathy Osten



March 1, 2021

Sen. Osten Votes for Passage of Several Bills, Including Possibly Raising State Aid for Cities and Towns

HARTFORD – State Senator Cathy Osten (D-Sprague) today gave her approval to final Democratic passage in the state Senate of a variety of bills that could improve life in Connecticut, including one bill that could provide millions of dollars in new, increased state aid for Connecticut cities and towns.

“Today was a balancing act when it came to a few of these bills,” Sen. Osten said. “I did vote for them. But on the Senate floor, during the debate on PILOT funding, I did express my frustration at the way different regions of this state are treated when it comes to state spending. And I voted for the data centers legislation, but I wish the administration would move as quickly on a business agreement with the two tribal nations that have given the state billions of dollars and who employ thousands of state residents as quickly as the administration moved to attract some business that might employ 50 people per site and which don’t even exist in Connecticut yet.”

Today’s Senate bills that were approved and now head to the governor include:

Higher State PILOT (Payments In Lieu Of Taxes) Grants for Cities and Towns

Cities and towns lose out on collecting local property taxes when they have “non-taxable” property in town such as hospitals, airports, private universities, state-owned property and other land. For years, Connecticut has not spent enough on such PILOT grants, setting aside only about 25% of what is needed. That means cities and towns have to either increase local property taxes or cut local services to make up the difference.

Today’s bill creates three tiers of municipalities for new, minimum state PILOT grants. It defines Tier 1 towns as having an equalized net grand list of less than $100,000 per person. Tier 2 towns have an equalized net grand list of between $100,000 and $200,000 per person, and Tier 3 towns have an equalized net grand list of more than $200,000 per person.

The state currently funds PILOT at about 25% of its full formula. Under today’s bill, Tier 1 towns could receive a minimum of 50% of their calculated state PILOT funding, Tier 2 towns 40%, and Tier 3 towns 30%. The state legislature would need to appropriate at least $143 million in additional state revenue every year into the future in order to fully implement this new PILOT funding plan.

Ending the Placing Liens on the Homes of Welfare Recipients

According to a recent report regrading state liens placed on the property of former cash assistance recipients, at least 12 states have laws authorizing the placement of liens to recover state or federal public assistance paid to a property owner. Connecticut laws cover the broadest range of public assistance programs and is one of only two states to place liens on family cash assistance.

Such liens are often unknown to the property owner and arise only during refinancing or when the owner attempts to sell their property. These liens undo a lifetime of financial progress and make it more difficult to refinance a home, subjects vulnerable homeowners to pay higher housing costs, and often prevents older residents from retiring when they should.

Today’s bill revokes all such liens as of July 1 and ceases the enforcement on any pending liens by that date as well.

Prohibiting Workplace Discrimination of Hair Styles

Today’s house bill, called the C.R.O.W.N. Act, prohibits workplace discrimination against individuals for wearing ethnic hairstyles that are historically associated with race.

The bill notes that “race” is inclusive of traits like hair texture and protective hairstyles, which can include braids, locs and twists, which are historically associated with an individual’s race.

The bill comes as about 80 percent of Black women have said they feel they need to change their natural hair color to fit in at their workplace. Black women are also three times more likely to have their hairstyles called “unprofessional” compared to white women, and Black women are 50 percent more likely than white women to have been sent home from the workforce solely due to their hair.

Fixing “Double Taxation” On Connecticut Residents With Out-of-State Jobs

Today’s bill protects the approximately 158,000 Connecticut residents who worked remotely in 2020 from having to pay income taxes to both Connecticut and to the state where their employer is located. It’s estimated that the move will save Connecticut residents who telecommute to New York jobs about $440 million in Connecticut income taxes and save telecommuters to Massachusetts jobs another $60 million.

bill requires that for the 2020 tax year, a tax credit will be provided to Connecticut residents who have to pay income taxes to another state while working remotely in Connecticut.

Tax Incentives for Data Centers

Today’s bill increases Connecticut’s chances of becoming a leader in the creation of new data centers by waiving sales taxes for up to 30 years on data centers that invest at least $400 million in a facility in a qualified opportunity zone, or at least $200 million if the facility is located in an enterprise zone. Such data centers would also be exempt from any financial transaction tax or fee that may be imposed by the state through trades of stocks, bonds, or other financial products. This exemption would last for 30 years from the date any new facility is completed.