Commentary: On the road: The Pizza & Politics Tour

State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Southington, Wolcott)

State Rep. Rob Sampson (R-Southington, Wolcott)

Recently, my good friend Senator Joe Markley and I held the first of a series of events we are calling our “Pizza & Politics Tour”. We will be visiting a number of local small businesses in an effort to engage with our constituents and also help promote businesses in our community, something needed in these troubled times.

Connecticut continues to make negative headlines for its poor business climate, and there is no doubt that this is the primary issue on the minds of those who came out visit us. We heard questions on many issues, including those I discussed last month, illegal immigration and the death penalty. We also had questions on issues affecting seniors and veterans and on everything from energy costs to gun control. However, the economy seems to overshadow everything else and it’s clear that’s what is on people’s minds.

Recently, the Pacific Research Institute, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and many other local and national publications have ranked Connecticut at or near the bottom regarding the state’s business climate and overall economic outlook.

The Pacific Research Institute recently rated Connecticut near the absolute bottom in several categories, including overall business friendliness at 47th out of 50. That means, Connecticut scores an “F” overall, and two of Connecticut’s cities—New Haven and Hartford—were specifically noted for being among the worst-performing cities in the nation.

This is unfortunate news for sure and a constant source of frustration for me, considering that my primary reason for running for office to begin with as well as the concentration of my daily efforts as our state representative has been to sound the alarm on bad fiscal policy and to present and advocate for a change in direction.

I have now spent five sessions as a member of the minority party and my voice is hoarse from the debate. I have offered bills and amendments galore and made speech after speech fighting for the principles I believe in—maximum personal freedoms, limited constitutional government, and fiscal restraint, sanity, and accountability.

I have heard every contrary argument and every plea for us to compromise, to work together, and to do what the people want. I have taken all to heart and have consistently put my best foot forward and offered collegial cooperation to the majority.

In every case, the plea for common sense is ignored. The voice of Connecticut’s taxpaying citizens is disregarded, and the Governor and his friends continue to spend more, regulate more, and tax more resulting in a still stagnant economy and my friends and neighbors contemplating leaving our state.

Some of you may know that my profession is that of a realtor so I can tell you first hand just how many of my recent client meetings centered around the idea of an out-of-state relocation. It should be concerning to all of us who love this state and consider it our home.

Most recently, Governor Malloy, and the press machine of his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate, have begun claiming these woes are somehow the fault of myself and others because we’re somehow “rooting for failure”. Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled legislature continues to pass overly restrictive and onerous burdens on the job creators of our state.

These assertions are as ridiculous as they sound. Instead of working to alleviate the constant problems of out of balance and bloated budgets, poor planning, arbitrary tax increases, failure to sunset “temporary” taxes, delayed reporting and fiscal accounting gimmicks, among others, their answer is to obfuscate the truth and call out those who have the temerity to point out errors in an effort to address, repair and move our economy forward.

It’s time for our state’s leaders to understand we are being left behind and passed over when companies look to open, expand or even remain here. Aetna, General Electric, and several other employers’ dire warnings during the final days of the past legislative session should have been be a wake-up call.

Instead, the legislature voted to pass a new corporate “unitary tax” to claim new revenue from businesses that have operations in multiple states. The idea of a unitary tax is certainly not unique to Connecticut, but it raises another giant warning flag for business owners considering our state. It’s not a revenue problem; It’s a significant spending problem.

This past week, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Blum Shapiro released their annual survey of Connecticut businesses and stated: “The single greatest challenge for most businesses this year is Connecticut’s economy.”

I am not naïve enough to think this mess was created, or that it can be solved, overnight, but I am smart enough to know when a policy isn’t working it’s time to change and move forward. Doubling down on proven mistakes just to save face or score a political hit only makes things worse. The Republican caucus has repeatedly offered viable, vetted suggestions to help right Connecticut’s financial ship only to be summarily dismissed and even taunted by this administration.

I also don’t believe every idea our caucus proposes is going to be perfect. However, careful consideration of all ideas, regardless of the source, just makes sense. Some may prove to be unworkable, but others might provide the spark this state needs to return Connecticut to a position of national leadership.

Some of the proposals our caucus have put forth in the past, and will likely introduce in the coming legislative session include eliminating the business entity tax (promised by the legislature more than a decade ago) and reducing the unemployment burden on small businesses.

These are just a few of the myriad ideas this legislature can consider to help employers, residents and taxpayers. It’s time to make changes to get our state back on track and provide a better future for everyone.

Rep. Sampson represents the 80th district of Wolcott and Southington.

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