The state’s budget deficit and more than 90 new gun control bill proposals are two key areas of focus for Colchester’s two new Republican legislators.
State Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook, and Rep. Melissa Ziobron, R-East Haddam, are reaching out to constituents in their districts, which include Colchester. They’re talking with residents at a series of town hall-style meetings in the towns they represent. They were in Colchester Feb. 13.
“This is really about customer service,” Linares said. “It’s about helping real people solve real problems. It’s really important to tell you what’s going on — to be transparent.”
Linares used graphs and pie charts outlining the major areas of revenue and spending in Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget, which would produce billion-dollar deficits in each of the next two years.
“It’s creating debt with no plan to pay it back,” Linares said.
Resident Betsy Ciccone said she hopes both legislators would stand against efforts to expand government.
“We need them to be our voice up there,” she said. “We haven’t had the opportunity to hit that ‘no’ button yet, but we will,” Ziobron said.
Others said they’re concerned that the gun control measures proposed in the wake of the school killings in Newtown are knee-jerk reactions to the tragedy.
And the state needs to make itself more business-friendly, residents said.
“We’re on the bottom of the list of everything,” resident Bill Sullivan said. “It’s one of the worst business-friendly states in the country.”
“It’s important to create an environment here where businesses can grow on their own, where banks can be able to lend,” he said.
Linares and Ziobron are getting a cordial welcome from across the aisle.
State Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester, said she’s prepared to work with the new legislators.
“Gov. Malloy’s budget just came out,” she said. “There’s a lot to wrap our arms around. We’re not going to like everything in it.”
As for the shootings in Newtown, “We don’t have all the facts on the incident,” Orange said. “The police report isn’t out. I agree, a lot of the bills awaiting us are knee-jerk reactions. But some of the concepts in those bills may be taken into consideration in what comes before us.”
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