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 Rob Sampson, the Republican incumbent, running unopposed for Connecticut’s 80th 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?
Thanks for the opportunity to offer my perspective. First, I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a Republican vs. Democrat issue. However, I do believe that for the direction of our state’s economy to change significantly and for the better, a Republican majority is necessary.
The economic situation in Connecticut can be improved dramatically by restoring the business climate, so we are a viable choice to locate or start a business. Reduce taxes, limit government overreach like punitive unemployment payments, forced benefits, and reduce high energy costs. Those are things we can control and because of decades of willful disregard for them, we are losing to other states.
Instead of picking and choosing companies to entice to stay with corporate welfare payments, let it be known that all businesses are welcome and will be treated fairly. This is a national problem, too—but it’s exacerbated in our state. How do we do it?
Step one is to reduce state spending so you can reduce the tax burden. Some examples: eliminate government agencies that exist simply to lobby the legislature, eliminate government bureaucracies that add cost but little if any benefit (for instance, the Board of Regents of Higher Education, an expensive bureaucracy that does not teach a single student), reform unemployment, institute a workfare program, fight fraud in Medicaid and food stamp programs.
I’d like to see less in the way of busway projects or expensive bronze statues, the elimination of taxes that cost more to collect than they raise in revenue, and a pay-down of our debt to avoid crippling debt service payments.
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?
I am not sure exactly what property tax reform is being referred to here. The issue is the sheer amount of property tax citizens are being forced to pay, not necessarily how it’s collected. There is a movement to equalize the mill rates between towns and cities to let the state manage the distribution of funds.
I cannot think of a worse proposal. The big cities will receive the entire benefit of such a system, at the expense of small towns that actually manage their finances properly.
The other issue is that the state needs to properly fund municipalities. In the last adopted state budget, which I vigorously opposed, the Governor and majority party made a big deal about not raising state taxes again (after passing the two largest tax hikes in state history in the last five years) but they accomplished that in part by reducing what was owed to the towns. Of course, this forces towns to find the money and ultimately raise property taxes.
The reader can come to their own conclusion about what they think of that, but I would characterize it as dishonest and irresponsible. I would also point out, that if they maintain the majority after this election, I fully expect them to raise taxes yet again.
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?
As I mentioned above, I believe the state’s finances have been mismanaged so poorly by the current administration that a significant change in direction is needed.
We were recently called into special session at the state capitol for the purpose of approving $220 million in financial incentives to Lockheed Martin to maintain a certain number of jobs at the Sikorsky plant here in the state. This was not even for new jobs, just to keep what they have, more or less. Such a desperate act shows how weak our state economy has become, and how badly we need a reduction in the tax and regulatory burden on our businesses.
We cover a lot of territory each session at the state capitol, whether it be budget related issues, or education, or civil liberties. I believe strongly in the foundational principles of our American form of government, maximum freedoms for all citizens, but holding people accountable for their actions, punishing criminals, but rewarding hard work, ingenuity and effort, limited constitutional government that doesn’t interfere with private business or the liberties of individual citizens but takes to guarantee equal opportunity for success.
You can count on me to uphold these values and continue to vote my conscience on every issue that comes before me.