Thursday, April 27, 2017

Connecticut is Not Broke… It is Broken: Opinion by Rep. Rob Sampson


As long as I have been in office, I have tried to use the opportunity to keep my constituents connected with what happens at the State Capitol and vice versa. I have also done my best to be honest about my efforts and intentions as well as those of my colleagues, including those with whom I disagree.  I want to help restore the trust citizens are entitled to have in their elected officials and to elevate political discourse, now sunk to a near-toxic level.

One of the things I am known to point to is the way we conduct ourselves in Hartford. Though we bring vastly different perspectives to the Capitol, we debate politely and respectfully, and often find common ground many would assume is impossible.  Recently, however, I have watched the dialogue take a sharp turn for the worse and for the brazenly political.

Legislative Democrats have seen their numbers decline from a supermajority of 114-37 in 2010 to 79-72 today, only three elections later. Given complete control of both the executive and legislative branches, they imposed the state’s two largest tax increases in history and doubled our annual bonded indebtedness.  Now we face yet another behemoth of a budget deficit.  Democrat demand—already coming from the Speaker of the House—for yet another tax hike is likely to cause even more Democrat losses and bring a Republican majority in the General Assembly.

ImageOur state has reached a tipping point. Instead of facing facts, legislative Democrats are trying to change the subject.

An illustration of this was yesterday’s passage of H.B. 5591, the so-called “pay equity” bill, anti-business legislation disguised as an anti-discrimination measure for women and minorities.
There was only one small part of the bill that had anything to do with pay equity at all and the change was to replace the word “similar” that is in the current state law with “comparable.” No rationale was offered and no measurable difference explained.

The amended bill – HB 5591, titled “An Act Concerning Pay Equity in the Workplace” does nothing to advance pay equity in the workplace since the one word change is inconsequential and the existing law– a reiteration of long standing federal anti-discrimination law–remains unchanged.

The only significant change to current law is a bad administrative idea, moving oversight for pay discrimination complaints from Department of Labor to the dysfunctional Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, an understaffed bureaucracy ill-equipped to handle such complaints.

The majority of my colleagues in both parties chose to vote in favor of the bill rather than face the inevitable political slander aimed at those willing to oppose it. I voted no because I refuse to be bullied into supporting bad legislation just because of a title designed to alarm my constituents.

The Democrats know that Malloy’s budget proposals are disastrous. Instead of confronting that reality and doing something productive with this legislative session, they prefer the distraction of demonizing Republicans, portraying us as anti-women. Those who know me know that I see us all as free and equal citizens, responsible for our actions and rewarded for our initiative. I certainly do not support any type of discrimination.

Blatant political maneuvering is a given in Hartford. I can tell you sincerely that I dislike participating in it, even to point it out. I ran for office to reverse the decline of our state’s economy, to represent my constituents, and to stick to my principles of freedom, respect, hard work, honesty, and integrity in the process.

It might have been easier to just vote for this nothing bill rather than chance the political fallout because of the way it might be portrayed by my political opponents but that would not be the right thing to do.

I am grateful to represent this district, where people have the wisdom to distinguish partisan shenanigans from political principle. As long as they have the confidence to support me, I will cast my vote based on our Constitution and the best interests of the entire state of Connecticut, as I am given the light to comprehend them.

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