The daily headlines will always provoke conversation.
In the long run, Connecticut requires a politics characterized by careful deliberation, open and direct communication, and good decision-making.
Politics needs to move away from the back and forth of partisan commentary and get to issues beyond the headlines and sound bites. We need to discuss the more fundamental structural issues that will create a better political climate and a more vibrant economy.
Let’s begin here. (click to expand)
We need to ensure our elected officials are honest, transparent and accountable. We must support Connecticut’s Citizens’ Election Program (CEP), which is a model for the entire country in clean campaign finance laws. CEP ensures that our elected officials answer to the public rather than policy being driven by special interest or personal gain. This includes meeting with constituents throughout the year at easily accessible locations and holding public forums to hear from the community. Moreover, Connecticut is fortunate to have a strong Office of State Ethics. However, over the course of the last several years, that office has been a target for budget cuts and consolidations. I believe that we need to maintain the effectiveness of the Office of State Ethics and strengthen the reporting and enforcement requirements for lobbyists and state contractors.
Connecticut’s constitution, like our federal constitution, imagined a government by the people, featuring a citizen-controlled legislature, not a government dominated by individuals who become overly susceptible to the influence of special interests. Enacting a reasonable term limit on public officers, including Representatives, Senators, and the Governor will help rejuvenate our state government with new people and ideas and will keep entrenched political interests in check. This will help rebuild faith in the public service aspect of politics, and increase trust in political representation.
I believe that the time is now to take responsibility for getting our state back on the right path. We have an obligation to ensure that our children enjoy quality public education that prepares them to be innovators and problem solvers. We need to insist that Trumbull get its fair share of state education aid, and reverse the trend of Trumbull losing state Education Cost Sharing Funds each year. The state must pay for the CDC and state mandated changes to ensure classroom safety in our public schools. Moreover, we need to build programs that will provide easier access to public colleges and universities, while providing incentives to keep graduates from moving out of state. For example, we need to support programs to reduce tuition for those who commit to living and working in the state. In addition, we need to work with local businesses in order to train our students for the jobs and skills Connecticut businesses are looking for.
Our local businesses have suffered because of COVID-19. We must ensure our local businesses can thrive. I will work to expand existing programs to help small businesses throughout the state, such as the Small Business Express Program, and would work to help small businesses use business interruption insurance to recoup COVID-19 costs. Trumbull is home to many successful small and medium-size businesses, and continued support for carefully planned economic development is vital to our future economic success.
Because so many of us depend on having the ability to work at home now, we must have access to high-technology fiber optics to attract new businesses to the area. We should pass a higher education training initiative that forgives loans for students who stay in Connecticut after graduation to work in critical industries, and we must provide businesses with the incentive to stay by supporting the expansion and improvement of our digital infrastructure. Also, Connecticut’s bridges, dams, and roads are in need of attention and in some cases, critical repair. This requires a commitment to adequately support the state’s Transportation Fund. However, I would not support doing so through a regressive toll plan, particularly since such tolling makes us too dependent on tax revenue from driving, which gives the state a perverse inventive to encourage people to drive at a time in which we want people to remain close to home (because of COVID-19) and reduce their carbon output (because of climate change). Additionally, the state should work to provide towns and cities with municipally-based broadband options to eliminate the digital divide.
Trumbull families already feel the burden of taxes on their houses, cars, purchases, and local services - and we are not getting enough in return. We need to reduce this tax burden while still making sure that the most fundamental demands of our state are met, including education, infrastructure, and attracting new families and businesses to Connecticut - and that we can honor the commitments we have already made to our state workers and educators. We fix this by reforming and simplifying our tax system and reducing property taxes. We can pay for these reforms by seeking out new sources of revenue such as closing tax loopholes for hedge fund managers and eliminating expensive exemptions for wealthy organizations. We need to take ineffective tax giveaways to major corporations and instead increase our tax incentives to locally owned businesses. We need to expand our tax base by attracting new people and businesses to Connecticut by improving our infrastructure. And finally, we need to carefully explore limited pooling of resources across town lines to encourage more efficient services.
We all benefit from living in a community that includes diverse experiences and different perspectives. And we must ensure that all voices are heard and that our communities are inclusive. We can simultaneously work to make our system better for those who have been disproportionately impacted by systemic racism and to support those who serve. Throughout my career, I am proud to have worked with police officers and communities of color to improve police-community relations, and I applaud the efforts being taken by those continuing that work. I will continue that work with you to improve these relationships that will make our community stronger.