After eight years of failed leadership that has saddled hardworking Connecticut families and businesses with massive tax hikes, fewer jobs and stagnant wages, I believe it's time to fundamentally upend how business is done in Hartford.
Last week, I sat down with the Journal Inquirer to discuss my plan to restore prosperity in Connecticut and deliver tax relief to struggling families, retirees and businesses by dismantling the status quo under the Gold Dome, taking-on the bloated bureaucracy in Hartford and making UCONN live within its means.
You can read that full interview below, or here.
If we want different results from Hartford, we simply must send a different type of person to Hartford — a Hartford outsider with a record of proven reform.
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Herbst Would Target UCONN, DOT as Governor
By: Eric Bedner
Jan. 25, 2018
HARTFORD — Former Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst has set his sights on eliminating waste at the University of Connecticut and the Department of Transportation, and overhauling the state employee pension and benefits plans in his campaign to become the state’s next governor.
The Republican said lawmakers in Hartford have created a “dysfunctional” environment and the next governor will be faced with a “pervasive culture of entitlement,” of which residents have become resentful.
There is no way to have a discussion about tax cuts, Herbst said, without first adjusting the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement, including forcing employees to contribute more to their pensions.
“Existing employees need to recognize that to preserve their retirement security, they’re going to have to contribute more,” Herbst said during an interview Wednesday with the Journal Inquirer. “New hires are going to have to go into a defined contribution plan,” which would, at least, stop the state’s liability from increasing.
In order to make changes, he said he would seek a “statutory remedy” to the SEBAC deal “right out of the gate.”
He said it’s “outrageous” that employees are able to use their mileage reimbursements when calculating their pensions.
The system of collective bargaining and binding arbitration “clearly needs to be reformed,” Herbst said. “I don’t think we have a choice.”
After that, he said, he would propose the elimination of the estate tax and income tax for people making $75,000 per year or less, as well as a reduction in corporate tax rate to promote economic growth.
Herbst said other candidates who say they will eliminate the income tax entirely are simply “pandering.”
Herbst advocated for privatizing some social services and overhauling the Department of Motor Vehicles, which he called the “textbook definition of a state agency that is inefficient.”
Likewise, he called the Board of Regents of Higher Education “a dumping ground for political patronage.”
“The proof of that is the president,” he said, “who, quite frankly isn’t qualified,” but rather a political appointee. The chairman of the board of regents is appointed by the governor. That post now is held by Matt Fleury, who is president and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center.
Herbst took exception to UConn and its president, Susan Herbst, lobbying legislators for fewer cuts in the budget, turning the process into a “political spectacle.” He added that the university should be better at managing its money, which he said is sufficient.
Herbst said that if he becomes governor, UConn’s president could be replaced.
“If I’m elected governor, I’m going to appoint a new Board of Trustees, and the Board of Trustees is going to make the decision as to whether she gets appointed or reappointed,” he said. “But the Board of Trustees that I appoint are going to very clearly know where I stand with respect to the mission of UConn, the purpose for its existence, what it’s there to do, and quite frankly that it’s not going to be a bottomless pit of state taxpayer dollars.”
He said he also would limit what he said is unnecessary bureaucracy in the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.
He said by appointing an inspector general, efficiencies could be found throughout government, including by replacing state auditors, many of whom are former legislators, with qualified forensic auditors.
Regarding the state’s depleting special transportation fund, Herbst placed much of the blame on Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, who Herbst said committed to operating costs without sufficient calculations.
He said he would not consider electronic tolls or other sources of revenue without a detailed audit of the DOT or an effective lock box for generated revenue.
He said he would overhaul the state’s welfare system by holding recipients accountable through periodic reporting to determine whether people are finding work in a timely fashion.
As the son of two retired public educators, Herbst said the state’s “huge achievement gap” is due in large part to the “fundamentally unfair” Education Cost Sharing formula that gives more money to cities with no evidence the increased money leads to better prepared students.
He added that the state’s standardize tests are “increasingly subjective,” and more emphasis should be placed on math and science, as well as the state’s community colleges.
As Trumbull’s first selectman, Herbst said he inherited a 54 percent tax increase in the previous eight years, a shrinking grand list, and a pension system that was only 27 percent funded.
Instead of accepting to opt in to the town’s pension plan, he decided to enter into a defined contribution plan and insisted his appointees did as well. Otherwise, Herbst said, he would not have been able to convince union members to have new hires in the same plan.
Further, he instituted two town ordinances mandating that annual pension contributions be included in the town’s budget, ensuring that previous issues would not arise once he left office.
Ultimately, Herbst was part of balancing eight budgets, which included two tax cuts, and saw the grand list increase by more than 68 percent in eight years, all while fully funding Trumbull’s pensions, he said.
“If we can do it at the local level, we can do it in Hartford,” Herbst said.
Having a truly balanced budget, Herbst said, also would attract businesses by showing investors the state is fixing its fiscal problems. He added that the bipartisan budget was “doomed for failure at its inception” because it was hundreds of millions of dollars out of balance.