We reached out to the local candidates for the state senate and state house races via our editorial page and asked them three questions.
Here are the answers for David Zoni, the Democrat incumbent for Connecticut’s 81st House district:
There has been a lot of discussion the past year about the economic situation in Connecticut. For the Democrats, since they hold the governor’s office and the General Assembly, what things have been done and are in the pipeline that have improved or will improve the situation and how would you push the efforts even further? And for the Republicans, what has been done incorrectly and if the Republicans take the majority in Hartford, what would you do to improve the state’s economic situation?
First of all, let me thank the Southington Observer and its staff for the opportunity to address issues that concern our residents and your readers.
Our state has faced some crucial financial challenges in recent years. I, along with my colleagues in the General Assembly, have worked diligently towards implementing steps that included real cuts to the budget with no tax increases. This is difficult, as state budget cuts affect many people in our community.
I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop and promote innovative changes in the way the state operates while maintaining crucial services.
Connecticut has a history of over-reliance on the financial services sector for a significant portion of our state’s revenue. This is an unreliable source due to the volatility of the market forces. The ebb and flow on Wall Street directly impacts the bottom line of tax revenue in our state, and this needs to be addressed and remedied.
During the last legislative session, I worked for the implementation of an important program to help stabilize our state’s finances. A portion of our revenues will go into a “rainy day” fund to help bring about a more stable and positive financial future.
I will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility and restraint, and will work to enact legislation that will help grow businesses and improve job opportunities. Supporting Connecticut’s Small Business Express Program, Economic and Community Development initiatives, job training programs for skilled labor, particularly in advance manufacturing and further expansion of Connecticut’s bioscience sector will be among my top priorities.
Southington manufacturers supply many other industries, and their future must be furthered through collaborative legislative efforts.
The past few months has seen discussion about property tax reform in Connecticut—with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities putting its weight behind reform. Do you think the state is in need of reform? Why do you feel that way and what can be done if change is needed?
Everywhere I go, people tell me that property taxes are the greatest burden on their personal budgets. I agree with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities: we must reform property taxes. These taxes hurt individual property owners, particularly our seniors and retirees, and negatively impact business growth.
In recent years, we developed a program that dedicates a portion of the state’s sales tax directly to our cities and towns. This directly alleviates some of the tax burden for our property owners. But, this is just a small step; I will work to develop sensible alternatives to help deliver municipal service more efficiently and more economically.
I personally fought for grant funding for projects like Southington’s Senior Center and our new school construction projects that delivered direct property tax relief to Southington taxpayers and saved our community millions of dollars.
As time goes on, we will see communities working together more cooperatively, sharing goods and services. Supporting collaboration efforts with neighboring communities have the potential to reduce taxpayer costs significantly.
Aside from the above questions, what do you see as the single biggest issue facing the state in the next two years and how would you like it addressed?
There is good news in Connecticut. During the first seven months of 2016, more than 18,000 new businesses have been started. Small business is the backbone of our economy. The creation of a positive environment that helps businesses grow and develop while creating more job opportunities is essential. Good jobs lessen tax burdens for everyone.
I supported legislation that created the Small Business Express program, which helped to create more than 5,200 jobs in 1,319 companies. Some of these new jobs were right here in Southington. Some industries have great difficulty finding qualified workers. We must continue to invest in our technical schools by developing partnerships with employers, and we must encourage students to continue their education after high school so that we have a well-qualified work force in the future. We must listen to employers and move quickly to meet their needs.
Our senior citizens face issues as well. I will work towards eliminating the state income tax on social security. This will help them to continue to live fruitful lives in our state.
My dedication to this community is evident: I am a working presence at local events and an active member of many civic organizations and non-profit agencies. I am here for you and proud to serve as your voice in Hartford. I look forward to continuing my service to the people of Southington.