As 2011 began, so, too, did my tenure as State Representative for East Windsorand Ellington. Despite the difficult challenges facing our community as I took the oath of office, I was excited to get to work representing our district in Hartford.
High unemployment and massive budget deficits continued to plague our state- for me, this year was all about jobs and the budget.
Unfortunately, closing the budget deficit without passing the burden on to the citizens and businesses of our state was not everyone’s priority. The majority party in the legislature passed the largest tax increase in state history rather than making the difficult decisions to balance the budget. Taxes were increased on everything from income and sales to creating taxes on pet grooming and non-prescription drugs. Perhaps most frustrating was that they also increased spending to record levels despite the fact that we can no longer afford the government we have.
I joined my Republican colleagues in the legislature in proposing an alternative “No Tax Increase” budget that closed the budget deficit by reducing spending to more affordable levels, rooting out waste and fraud in state government, and consolidating state agencies. These ideas were all but ignored even though Republicans represent about a third of the state.
However, not everything was bad this year. We passed many positive pieces of legislation that will improve the quality of life in Connecticut. We passed legislation to strengthen school bullying laws, help young people save for their first home, encourage recreational use of open space, and made it easier for local farmers to bring their crops to market.
In October, the legislature proved it can work together when we convened in special session to pass a jobs bill. While certainly long overdue, the legislation provides greater access to loans for small businesses and will begin the process of getting Connecticut back to work.
This was a step in the right direction, but does not fix the underlying problems. I spent much of the year visiting with local businesses to learn what we can do in the legislature to make things easier for businesses to start, remain, and grow in Connecticut. It’s clear that the regulatory environment, high taxes, and lack of young, skilled employees are some of the obstacles preventing business growth and further employment. I will continue to work for pro-business legislation in 2012. We cannot fully recover from the recession unless we embrace the small businesses that make our state run and employ so many of our state’s citizens.
There continues to be difficult challenges facing our state and our community, but I look forward to continuing to work on your behalf in 2012. I encourage you to visit me during my scheduled office hours in January to discuss issues important to you. On January 23rd, from 6-8pm, I will hold office hours in Ellington in the McKnight Community Room at Hall Memorial Library, and on Tuesday, January 31st, I will hold office hours in East Windsor from 6-7:30pm at the Town Hall.
Have safe and happy New Year.