We asked Southington’s Connecticut General Assembly candidates the following questions:
1) What should the General Assembly do over the next two years to help the state’s economy?
2) Other than the economy, what are the top issues the General Assembly must address in the next two years? Why?
3) Southington faced unique challenges from the state during the last budget season with $5.1 million in mid-year holdbacks to Southington’s education funding and a $27 million package for municipal grants that left Southington off the list. What did you (or would you have done) to represent the town during this process?
Here are their answers:
1) It’s all about job creation, and with companies such as Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky planning to add thousands of new jobs in the coming years, it is critical we have an efficient, effective workforce pipeline to meet the growing needs of Connecticut employers. This includes investing in our vo-tech schools and doing a better job aligning our education curriculum with growth industries such as advanced manufacturing. It also includes investing in our local small businesses on Main Street instead of Wall Street, and cutting regulations, so it is easier for them to grow here in Connecticut. Making our state more business friendly, worker friendly, and family friendly are not mutually exclusive, and that needs to be our focus as we work to encourage sustained economic growth.
2) While there are many issues that should be prioritized by the General Assembly in the next two years, I feel that two of the biggest priorities, aside from the economy, are making health care more affordable to Connecticut residents and continuing to address the opioid epidemic that we are facing.
Affordable quality health care remains a priority, especially with the uncertainty created by Washington DC. We’ve taken steps to guarantee coverage of essential benefits and to lower prescription drug costs. But given how important health care is to our residents and its growing expense, we need to be doing all that we can to make sure people are covered with plans they can afford.
Despite the expansion of access to treatment and other policy achievements, the opioid epidemic continues to grip Connecticut. We need to continue to work with medical professionals and experts to preserve the gains already made and further expand access to treatment and overdose prevention.
3) As Speaker of the House, not only did I work with my Republican colleagues to create a bipartisan budget without the governor, but I also overturned the governor’s cuts to local education and was proud to restore Southington’s education funding by $2,812,708, an increase over what the town received last year.
Despite these difficult fiscal times, in recent years I’ve been able to secure a considerable amount of state funding for local projects in Southington, including the new Gura Building on Main Street, the new Calendar House, the Southington YMCA and Camp Sloper, as well as several loans and grants for manufacturers and businesses in town.
As a representative for Southington, I know that securing this state funding is critical to making sure the town does not have to raise property taxes and that these and other investments help grow the economy and improve the quality of life for Southington residents.
Steve Baleshiski withdrew from the race on Thursday, Oct. 11.
Mike Gagliardi entered the race on Tuesday, Oct. 15 after the deadline for candidate questionnaires. He did not return our requests for comment.