Amazingly, the 2018 legislative session is less than a month away. It feels a little strange since it seems like the 2017 session never ended. Since June 7th of last year when our work was supposed to have been completed, we have been in and out of special session to address the budget crisis and a string of issues stemming from it. Words are hard to find to express the frustration and dissatisfaction with that entire budget process and, ultimately, the results it produced.
I am doing my best to remain hopeful that 2018 will be an improvement, but I have significant concerns about how the adopted budget will continue to impact my legislative district and the state. I have heard concerns from many constituents about local property tax increases and supplemental tax bills that are being caused in part by the adoption of that budget and the subsequent actions of Governor Malloy.
Of course, I share these concerns as a resident and a taxpayer. It’s very important to me that my constituents know that I did not support this budget or any of the cuts to our community. On the contrary, I spent the entire session advocating for a budget that contained no tax hikes, and no cuts to aid for education or the towns I represent. Amazingly, just such a budget passed both the House and Senate, but was then vetoed by the Governor, ultimately leading to what we have now.
No one recognizes the need to reign in state spending more than I do. However, cuts to important programs that help truly needy people and seniors on fixed incomes, as well as cuts to education that force towns to make up the difference in taxes are not the answer. This is especially true when the state continues to waste money on an amazing number of ill-conceived ideas like renovating the XL center and bailing out Hartford for its own fiscal mismanagement.
For those who have been following my efforts, you know I have been pushing hard for the legislature to restore the Medicare Savings Program and the assistance it provides to our seniors and disabled residents since it was cut in the recent budget. I am happy to say that on January 7th, the legislature convened in special session and voted to restore the MSP without raising taxes or creating new ones. We will undoubtedly be forced to revisit this issue in the coming months, but you can continue to count on me to be a voice of reason at the Capitol.
While many will continue to play politics in Hartford this year, I am preparing to move forward with bill proposals that will benefit all Connecticut stakeholders. This year, my priority is to help make Connecticut more competitive and more desirable for everyone. If we are going to turn our state around, we need to make our state a first choice for businesses large and small, for new college graduates to start their careers, for retirees to enjoy life without being forced out by taxes, and for everyone to see Connecticut as the ideal place to live, work, and retire.
The way out of Connecticut’s fiscal crisis is prioritization and economic growth. In keeping with my goals above, I will introduce bills to help improve our business climate and make our state more attractive for new and existing businesses of all sizes.
Entrepreneurs deserve the support of their state government, and that usually means repealing burdensome regulations and tax laws that create barriers to market entry. Larger businesses with the means to choose where to locate need to see Connecticut as the best option. One focus I have is to improve the insurance industry and restore a once thriving business sector in our state. This will not only help grow our economy and create jobs, but stimulate competition and help reduce the out of control costs of healthcare and insurance.
There is so much work to do, and sometimes the task seems nearly impossible, but as critical as I’ve been about our state of affairs, I believe in our cause and a bright future for Connecticut. The most impactful public decisions that happen in our lifetime occur at the state level, which make the stakes increasingly high.
We can have a balanced budget. We can have a thriving economy and plenty of jobs. We can reduce crime. We can have world-class schools and opportunity for all citizens. I will continue to give my all to make these things happen. As always, don’t hesitate to contact me at www.repsampson.com.