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 Minority Leader Joe Aresimowicz, the Democrat incumbent for Connecticut’s 30th 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?
We are taking steps to invest in our local businesses, workforce training programs, and middle class families so that we can grow good paying jobs in our state.
The bi-partisan deal that was passed recently to keep Sikorsky here in Connecticut for another 16 years is a great example of how all of these factors come together. Motivated by our trained workforce, financial incentives, and the relationships they have developed with state officials, Sikorsky chose Connecticut over other states that desperately wanted the work.
Similarly, both Pratt & Whitney and Electric Boat announced recently that they are going to be expanding their workforce significantly in Connecticut in future years. In addition to these companies retaining and creating jobs in the state, these investments begin a domino effect that leads to more jobs throughout the supply chain—which includes local businesses here in Southington.
Still, there is more to do to make sure we have the best highly trained workforce. This past session, I worked with the House Republican Leader to develop a program to encourage middle school and high school students to go into manufacturing so that these companies have the trained workforce they need. Next year, my plan is to work with our technical schools to make sure that they have the resources and tools they need to succeed and be most responsive to the needs of their students.
In addition, I will continue the work we have been doing to make higher education more affordable so that our kids can get the education they need to compete in today’s job market.
In the past year, because of legislation that I worked on, the Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority began helping borrowers refinance student loans so they can save money. It’s through programs like this that we can make sure our graduates and their families are not overburdened with debt.
While these are not easy times for Connecticut’s families, I have been able to move the ball forward and will continue to do so.
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?
Over the past several years, in an effort to provide working families, small businesses and seniors some property tax relief, we redirected a portion of the sales tax revenue to go directly to municipalities. In the next fiscal year, this program is expected to send $889,821 to Southington.
We have also been working since 2010, through the Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies Commission, to work with local elected officials and other stakeholders to identify mandates that can be eliminated and other ways we can help towns save money.
However, our work is not done. During the past legislative session, we convened an expert panel to take a deep dive into our state tax policy and recommend ways that we can make it fairer for middle class families. In the next session, I look forward to working with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle as well as the CT Conference of Municipalities to build on this work.
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?
Times are hard for many working families, but I refuse to buy into the doom and gloom. If I am lucky enough to be reelected this November, and Democrats retain the majority in the House of Representatives, I will be the Speaker of the House. That position will give me the opportunity to put our state on a path of investing in the middle class.
I believe that if we continue the work we have been doing in the past year to bring together our local business community with our educational system, we can make sure that our kids are on a path towards good, family-supporting careers.
I believe that our families will be stronger if workers are paid a living wage.
I believe that our budget will be more predictable if we reform our property tax system and tackle our long-term unfunded liabilities in a responsible way.
I believe that our seniors will continue to want to retire here if we exempt Social Security from the income tax and help them make home modifications so they can stay in their homes longer.
I believe that our kids will want to settle here if we bring our cities into the 21st century with pedestrian plazas and affordable, transit-oriented housing.
I believe that all of these things are possible and will work to make sure our state remains one of the best places to live.