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 Liz Linehan, the Democrat running for the open seat in Connecticut’s 103rd 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?
Despite slowly moving down the path to economic recovery, we are all still feeling the impact of the 2007 housing crash and recession. Lowering taxes would help. Lowering taxes means more money in everyone’s pockets and more money flowing into the economy.
The legislature has recently eliminated the personal income tax on military pensions and reducing taxes for retired teachers. Looking forward, I propose we exempt Social Security income from the state income tax and provide a tax break for new college graduates who live and work in Connecticut.
I applaud the legislature’s commitments to the manufacturing sector—Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky and other manufacturers are desperate for skilled workers. We must continue to pursue policies that ensure the next generation of employees have the training for these jobs.
I would also change the way the state puts together its budget. By implementing results-based accounting principles in the budget, we would make sure programs that work get funding…those that don’t get cut. Just because I am a Democrat, does not mean I believe all is well, and I welcome this opportunity to say what needs to change.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s across-the-board budget cuts did more harm than good, including cuts to DSS for our most vulnerable. Results based accounting principals will help to right some of those wrongs. Additionally, while I agree that our infrastructure needs attention, I believe Malloy’s transportation program includes projects which aren’t a necessity—namely, the widening of I-95 to the tune of $11.2 billion. Countless experts have said this will do nothing to alleviate traffic, and it draws our limited resources away from critical improvements to the safety of our aging infrastructure, like repairing bridges and roadways. I am certain we shouldn’t bond an exorbitant amount of money on projects which will have no positive effect.
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?
Property tax reform is a necessity. When I speak with seniors, I hear the same question repeated: Will I be able to stay in my own home? Property Taxes are a big factor. Seniors on fixed incomes can’t afford the ever-increasing tax bill on their homes. I would immediately work with colleagues in the legislature to create a “Homestead” clause in our tax code.
If you are a senior who has owned your home for more than 40 years, your property taxes should be cut in half. We must reward long-term community members who have given so much to our cities and towns.
I also support eliminating property taxes entirely for our disabled veterans. These brave men and women fought for our country; certainly we can support legislation which helps them stay in their homes.
Another aspect of property tax reform is regionalism. We should be sharing costs for equipment and services to fine efficiencies and save taxpayers’ dollars.
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?
I want to make sure our children continue to receive the best education possible. Southington, Cheshire and Wallingford residents are so fortunate to have top-notch schools and educators. I will always fight for our education funding from the state, and support vo-tech schools and STEM programs.
But beyond our local schools, I want to make sure students have the financial means to attend college.
In the short-term, we can help by allowing students to deduct student loan interest from their state income taxes. And down the line, I support the vision to make community college education free to all students.