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 Joe Markley, the Republican incumbent for Connecticut’s 16th senatorial 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?
Decades of bad public policy have largely destroyed Connecticut’s once-great economy. The growth in size and cost of state government has required repeated, enormous tax increases, which drove industry out of state or out of business.
Both political parties share the blame for this fiasco, but the last six years—the worst years of all—belong entirely to Gov. Dannel Malloy and Democrats, who control every branch of state government.
A Republican legislative majority would enable us to stop further damage. The first fight starts right after next month’s election, when calls will begin for yet another tax increase. A tax hike now would end any chance of recovery, and convince businesses, productive citizens, and our most promising young people that they have no future in this state.
It’s up to the voters to support candidates on Election Day who can be trusted not to raise taxes. Legislators must tackle the difficult job of reducing state spending and stabilizing our finances. The longer we put off that job, the harder it becomes.
In this crisis, we must forgo large new public projects; it’s hard enough to take care of what we have. That’s one reason I opposed the New Britain to Hartford busway, and it’s why I’m sounding the alarm on the likely proposal to spend as much as $2 billion on the Hartford civic center. Whether or not it’s a good idea (and usually it’s not), we simply can’t afford it.
We also can’t afford bureaucratic bloat. The central office of the state university system is an example I often cite: 140 administrators who cost the state an average of $160,000 each, every year. Not one of them teaches or counsels a student; they are an additional layer of government above the regional universities and the community colleges. If they all disappeared tomorrow, I think weeks would pass before anyone noticed they were gone.
Finally, commissioners must be instructed to find savings in their own agencies. Rather than a flat across the board cut, the governor and the legislature should set targets based on the need for the service and the ability of the department to effect efficiencies. That’s how it’s done in business, and there’s no reason our state government can’t follow suit.
If we get spending under control, we can start to reduce taxes in ways which promote economic growth. If we lighten the burdens that drove GE out of state, we won’t have to bribe companies to stay here. Connecticut’s economy must grow again: all other progress depends on that, and all our efforts must aim at that end.
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?
‘Reform’ in the context of property taxes usually means a transfer of money from the suburbs to mismanaged big cities and regional government as a new layer of bureaucracy. I oppose that entirely. What I support is mandate relief. The state should not impose one-size-fits-all solutions on our communities. No one cares more about our towns or understands them better than the people who live there. They should be allowed to develop local policies without interference. Mandates from the capitol are often wrong-headed, sometimes very expensive, and almost always unnecessary.
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?
Providing quality public education is always a priority, which I think the state can best facilitate by funding it reliably and letting the towns run it. Washington and Hartford both have imposed their wills at the local level, with deplorable results. Constant testing and tight control of the curriculum by distant bureaucrats wears down students and undermines the ability of teachers to use their individual skills to serve their students. Each community has unique educational challenges, which are best addressed by the local boards of education. Towns like Southington demonstrate that good schools are home-grown; the state should leave us alone and let us succeed.