The two major party candidates running for governor in Connecticut support spending more money to implement a state law that erases certain criminal convictions. Democratic incumbent Ned Lamont and his Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski made the pledge at a forum organized by a group of religious organizations.
Members of CONECT, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, met with the gubernatorial candidates at an assembly at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport on Sunday.
They urged the candidates to commit to spending $3 million over the next four years to implement the state’s clean slate law. That law erases certain low level criminal convictions and misdemeanors after a certain period of time.
“Absolutely. And it should be more,” said Stefanowski, who answered questions first.
Lamont said he’s already implementing the law.
“I was here four years ago and we talked about second chances, and we talked about clean slates,” Lamont said. “One of the first things I did when I got elected was we went to Cheshire prison. And I saw what it meant for these kids to get that second chance, and opportunity, and you can’t get it if you are sitting around with that on your slate. We are not going to let that happen. We got it done. We are one of the first states in the country and we are going to do it right.”
The CONECT members also pushed for state funding for a pilot mental health care respite program.
“Absolutely,” Stefanowski responded. “In fact, I’d like to meet with you on November 9 and talk about that,” he added.
“I want to work with CONECT. I want the very best type of program. Sometimes as a counselor, sometimes as a shoulder to lean on, sometimes as peers and friends. Help us lead the way we’ve got the resources to do it together,” said Lamont, in response to the question.
Both candidates also promised to fully fund public education, something that hasn’t been done in 40 years.
“I think the education funding should follow the child. Let the parents decide the best environment for their kids,” Stefanowski said, advocating for public school choice.
“Don’t abandon the inner-city schools. Make them better and don’t keep a kid trapped in an underperforming school because of the zip code where they live. We are going to change that. We are going to improve education. I’m a product of it. We are going to make it better,” he said.
Lamont said the state is already on the way to fully funding education with the help of federal COVID relief dollars.
“We’ve had the biggest investment in the history of the state,” Lamont said. “Additional hundreds of millions of dollars. On top of that we’ve got mental health. On top of that we’ve got the workforce. On top of that we got daycare. I’m doing everything I can. I used to be a teacher at Harding High School. I know what that inequality is like. And it starts with a great teacher.”
The governor said he’s also working to diversify the pool of public school teachers.
“We are giving mortgage support. We have relationships with historically Black colleges, Puerto Rican teacher colleges to get the most diverse, best teachers in the world, get them to come to the great state of Connecticut,” Lamont said.
The two candidates are scheduled for a televised debate next Tuesday. That would be exactly a week before the November 8 election.