First things first, Happy New Year! I’m writing this month’s column on New Year’s Eve and it has me thinking about some of the important events of 2012 and also looking forward to how we can make 2013 a better year. Without a doubt, the biggest issue that has been on everyone’s mind for not only 2012 but for the past few years is the poor state of our economy, both as a country and also right here in Connecticut.
Just before Christmas, the State Legislature was called back into special session ostensibly to clean up our previous budget mess and to vote on a deficit migration plan put forward by the Governor to plug a $415 million budget deficit created by his 2011 tax plan. The Governor met with legislative leaders to craft a compromise and come up with a solution to the deficit. Unfortunately, the final product was something I could not support.
I do want to make it clear that there are many good intentioned people that did vote in favor of that plan. The problem is that the current state budget is a terrible mess and there are unfortunately precious few ways to fix it. My Republican colleagues chose to engage the Governor’s office and the majority party and put together a bipartisan plan that would mitigate the deficit with the least collateral damage as possible.
My own opinion is that while their efforts are laudable, too few concessions were made in areas where they should have been and too many cuts were made in places that would be devastating to the most needy in our state, including the elderly, and those with disabilities, and also some deep cuts to our state’s hospitals.
I believe that the concessions that were never realized with the Governor’s negotiations with state employee unions ultimately are the most prominent reason we are in this bind and I feel the Governor should have insisted on some sacrifices in that arena. It also bothers me that the wasteful New Britain to Hartford Busway project continues to move ahead at a price tag nearly twice this deficit and that we continue to pay for drivers for executive staff and overpaid press people who make $227,000 per year.
Unless, our Governor and legislative leaders get serious, and become more responsible with the taxpayer’s dollars, I fear this is only the beginning of cuts to the less fortunate in our state.
Simply put, I voted no on the deficit migration plan because it cuts things in the wrong places. We need to first attack the bloat and waste in government, then provide tax relief to small businesses and consumers so they will keep more of their money and help jumpstart our economy. In 2011, I voted against the budget because I rightly saw that increasing state spending and raising taxes was not the answer to our fiscal turnaround.
2013 of course is also a budget year. I continue to serve on the Appropriations committee and you can be sure that I will make sure our voices are heard in Hartford. I will continue to advocate for common sense reductions in state spending and tax relief for everyone.
December was a busy time back home in Wolcott. I was excited to take part in several Christmas celebrations and enjoyed myself very much at the Mayor’s Christmas Party held at the Senior Center earlier this month. Senator Markley and I also repeated our efforts from last year and partnered with the Salvation Army and Wal-Mart in Southington to raise money for those in need. I am thrilled to say we raised a record $25,000.00 which Wal-Mart agreed to match dollar for dollar. To me, that was the best Christmas gift of the season, seeing the good in my neighbors and being able to help those that truly need it.