Q&A with state senate district 16 incumbent Joe Markley

Joe Markley was educated in local schools and graduated from Southington High School in 1974. He earned a bachelor’s degree with high honors from Amherst College, and a master’s degree from Columbia University.
Joe was elected to the State Senate in 1984. As a freshman, he chaired the Human Services committee, crafting and sponsoring the state’s first home care program for seniors in need of nursing and assistance.
The voters returned Joe to the Senate in 2010, where he has led the fight against high taxes and unnecessary spending. His challenge to a sneaky tax on our electric bills resulted in its repeal, saving ratepayers over $600 million; his spirited opposition to the New Britain Busway made that boondoggle a symbol of government waste.
Joe has worked as a teacher at the high school and college level, as a political campaign professional, and as an editor and writer.

1.)   What do you think is the biggest issue or issues that Southington is facing that could be addressed by a state rep. and how would you address it/them?
Southington is an exceptionally strong community, but our future is tied to the health of our state and nation. We can’t thrive if Connecticut remains on its present course.
Our state has been dead last in economic growth ever since Weicker’s income tax was imposed in 1992. In all those years, we have not added a single net private sector job. We have the heaviest tax burden, the greatest state debt, and the largest unfunded obligations per capita in the nation.
We have been going in the wrong direction for a long time, and the way back will not be quick or easy.
Over the last four years, Governor Malloy and his allies in the legislature have made matters much worse. They have imposed the largest tax increase in our history, increased spending by 16 percent, and added $1.5 billion to our bonded indebtedness.
The biggest issue facing Southington is Connecticut’s decline, and the best way to address it is with new leadership for our state.
We need a governor and legislature that will hold the line on taxes and spending, reject wasteful boondoggles like the $600 million Busway, and end crony capitalism that has given hundreds of millions of tax dollars to enormous, well-connected corporations.
When the state gets its own fiscal house in order, businesses will again have the confidence to operate here. We still have many outstanding assets, especially here in Southington: an educated workforce, a great location, a tradition of productivity and innovation which once inspired our nation, and a cultural life that makes us the envy of America.
Bad state policies have choked off prosperity in Connecticut. New leadership, which recognizes the limits of government and strives to provide essential services efficiently, can put us back on the path to recovery.

2.)   What is the biggest issue or issues facing Connecticut and how would you address it/them?
To address our top priority—the interrelated challenge of spending, taxes, debt, and the economic climate—we must control the budget. I advocate a three-pronged approach to that challenge.
First, some programs can be eliminated entirely. The high speed rail line between New Haven and Springfield is as pointless as the Busway, and far costlier. Our investment in transportation should focus on maintenance of our existing infrastructure, not new and unnecessary projects.
Another savings I would suggest is elimination of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, which doesn’t teach a single student but pays a number of mid-level bureaucrats hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, while complicating the lives of actual teachers.
Further savings can be achieved through legislatively-directed initiatives. In my first term as a State Senator, chairing the Human Services committee, I crafted and sponsored legislation which created the state’s first home care program for seniors otherwise headed for a nursing home. I argued that appropriate assistance would help people stay at home, which is better for them and less costly for taxpayers. Such desirable efficiencies must be sought in each agency.
Finally, I would demand that administrators identify savings themselves. In my opinion, the legislature sits in a position relative to state agencies similar to that of a board of directors in the business world. Our duty is to set a direction and establish priorities; the executive branch must execute the plan.
As much as vision, we need to provide resolve: if we make clear that efficiencies must be found—that the hard-pressed taxpayers of our state cannot be asked to sacrifice again—then I believe a few percent in reductions can be found in most areas of government. We must look everywhere, and trim everywhere, year after year, to bring state expenditures under control.
*Editor’s note: Markley’s opponent, Christopher Robertson, from the Working Families Party,  did not return his answers prior to press time.

Joe Markley

Joe Markley

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