Sunday, February 20, 2011


SUBMITTED FEBRUARY 16, 2011 To The New Britain Herald:

1) Newly elected Gov. Dan Malloy has repeatedly talked about restructuring government and consolidating and even eliminating certain departments. Please be specific in what departments you would support consolidating and or eliminating and why?

I agree with Governor Malloy that there are a number of agencies that can be streamlined without disruption to essential state services. Any consolidation needs to be carefully considered to ensure that desired synergies and cost savings are achieved. The pitfall of merging agencies merely for the sake of consolidation needs to be avoided. Agencies should have common subject areas and missions to ensure that the merger will be successful. Any consolidation should include decreases in staffing in order to achieve and maintain savings.

I also agree with the Governor’s recent proposal to consolidate the various higher education agencies to eliminate overlapping of agencies. Another consolidation that I would support would be the merging of all agencies that deal with business development, such as the Department of Economic Development (DECD), Connecticut Development Authority (CDA) and Connecticut Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) as well as some divisions of other agencies to create “one stop shopping” for new businesses who want to locate in Connecticut or existing businesses that want to expand. Currently, businesses are bounced back and forth between agencies creating frustration and oftentimes failure.

Consolidation should either save tax dollars, such as the Higher Education proposal or enhanced service delivery, like streamlining support for businesses. The recently announced proposal to merge the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Public Utility Control (DPUC) does not appear to achieve savings, reduction in employees or enhancement in service provision, so I would take a closer look at that proposal.

2) The state is $500 million in the red. What specific services would you cut to make up the shortfall?

The $500 million is for the current year. Projections show the following year with a $3.7 billion shortfall. Obviously, the usual strategy of cutting a few programs and raising some sin taxes cannot work on a deficit that large.

I believe that previous cost saving programs have stopped short of full implementation as the legislature seemed to focus on bridging the budget gap rather than achieving long term, sustainable savings. Previous measures such as number and use of vehicles in the state fleet need to be revisited to ensure that vehicle usage is kept to a bare minimum.

Let’s also look at reducing government facilities such as widening the area served by courthouses, Worker’s Compensation and other agencies such as was done recently with the probate court offices. Online service availability should also be expanded. People may have to travel a little further or wait a little longer, but that’s better than having to eliminate services altogether.

There can be no sacred cows in this effort to put our fiscal house in order. This means that the state employee pension and post-employment benefits need a total overhaul in order to reign in those out of control expenses.

One program I would eliminate is the public financing of political campaigns. There are too many loopholes and it benefits politicians only. Imagine telling some parent we are cutting your child’s Medicaid because we are using that money for political campaigns and you’ll see how easily we can do without this political piggybank.

3) What two specific incentives would you do implement to bring businesses to the state and to keep the businesses we have from leaving Connecticut?

The current process for a business to relocate to Connecticut or expand here is way too cumbersome and complicated. The best incentive is to have a business friendly state agency that provides “one stop shopping” assistance in a timely, fair and comprehensive manner. This is why consolidation of the three economic development agencies (DECD, CDA and CHFA) is a step in the right direction.

I would also support increased usage of an incentive that has worked well here in New Britain: Enterprise Zone incentives. These programs, in which new or expanded businesses gradually phase in new or increases to their property tax liability (with the difference being reimbursed to the cities by the state) was an integral part in the successful Celebration Foods project as well as expansions by Papa’s Dodge and Webster Bank. I think the state should continue to support Enterprise Zone and other graduated incentives and lower investment thresholds to encourage growth in small and medium businesses, create jobs and prevent the type of “take it and run” result that we have seen with Pfizer and other large corporations.

Our business tax structure also needs revamping to support our business and job growth. I support expanding the job creation tax credit to $400 per month and applying the credit to companies when they hire someone who is currently unemployed. In order to be competitive with other states, we need to repeal the ten percent corporate tax surcharge and the Business Entity Tax.

4) What is your specific position on the proposed and controversial busway project and why?

I support the construction of the New Britain-Hartford Busway. I also support other mass transportation initiatives, such as rail. Contrary to what you hear from Bristol, the two are not mutually exclusive.

My support is based on several factors, the first three which are: jobs, jobs and more jobs. The Busway project alone will create 1000 jobs for local residents. People are out of work NOW and need jobs NOW not when a rail project is started in ten or more years. The Busway also creates a secondary wave of job opportunities with construction of residential, offices and services (such as retail) and then permanent jobs in those new buildings. In addition, employers will see available mass transit in the Busway as a positive reason to locate to the area.

Another factor is the large investment of over $60 million in the Busway. Yes, costs have escalated since the project was first conceived, but compare the cost to complete the Busway to starting from scratch for a railway. Our highways need relief now and the Federal government will not look favorably on Connecticut’s complete about face on its transportation policy, which could jeopardize our federal funding for decades to come.

I understand people’s frustration with the lengthy time and high cost of the Busway. But we need to keep in mind that the Busway is one part of a total public transportation strategy. It is not an either/or situation between bus and rail – but a question of when and how.

5) Both candidates are New Britain residents and have a long record serving New Britain. What, specifically, can and will you do as it relates to representing all of Berlin and part of Farmington?

First, I can bring a strong record of constituent service from my seven plus years as mayor to the office of state senator. I hold monthly open office hours to hear people’s concerns and try to resolve issues. I try to give timely responses – people may not like the answer they get, but they do get an answer. I also make it a point to get out to community events which is a great way to hear what is on people’s minds. I plan to continue this outreach into all three communities if elected to the state senate.

Second, during my time as mayor I have already worked with Berlin and Farmington officials by serving on regional boards and working together on matters of mutual concern. I served as President and Vice President of the BRRFOC solid waste disposal authority for 14 towns including New Britain and Berlin. New Britain’s landfill is in Berlin as is a part of our sports complex that houses Rockcats baseball. As such, I’ve worked jointly with Mayor Salina, Town Manager McNair and others in Berlin on shared projects and issues. I’ve also worked with Farmington Town Manager Kathy Egan on economic development on our borders.

Lastly, I think most of the concerns are similar in all three towns, particularly the concern over high property and state income taxes. With my experience in cutting spending and lowering taxes in New Britain, I can be a strong advocate for Berlin and Farmington on these fiscal issues.

6) Donald DeFronzo previously held the position as state senator from the sixth district. As it relates to his job in office, please name one thing that you strongly agreed with him on and one thing you strongly disagreed with him on?

I admire the strong support that Senator DeFronzo gave to New Britain’s not for profit organizations. During his years in the state legislature, these organizations successfully completed much needed infrastructure improvements which allowed them to continue to provide service to our community. These projects included the Friendship Center’s supportive housing for the homeless, Prudence Crandall’s new facility for victims of domestic abuse, and expansion at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Senator DeFronzo was a strong advocate for these projects which helped them successfully receive state funding. The stronger these organizations, the more help they can provide to people in need which lessens the need for government to provide these services.

I strongly disagree with Senator DeFronzo’s flip-flop on support for the New Britain-Hartford Busway. I cannot understand why a representative would forsake a project that brings jobs for his constituents, development to his district and provide a much needed public transportation option for central Connecticut. Certainly there are concerns about the cost of the project, but the risks, benefits and need for this project have not changed so drastically as to totally abandon it. In my mind, he turned his back on the people of his district to participate in partisan grandstanding benefitting the town of Bristol, a town he did not represent. The drastic turnaround from his initial strong support of the Busway is not supported by facts. A representative should leave personal agendas at the door and support what is best for the district as a whole.

7) Name one person in state government and or politics, past or present, that you admire and why?

To me, New Britain State Representative Anthony “Tony” Tercyak was the epitome of public service. He was a teacher, a Board of Education member, a community volunteer and from 1994 until his death in 2003, served as New Britain’s 26th district as a state representative.

Tony took his service to his constituents very seriously. He went to his office at the State Capitol every day, in or out of session. People who called his office were pleasantly surprised to get a call back from Tony himself, usually less than 24 hours after their call or letter was received. He never told anyone “that’s not a state problem, I can’t help.” If someone had an immigration issue, he worked with Cong. Nancy Johnson or if it was a local issue, he called the mayor.

Tony did not care if you were Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, Polish or Hispanic, young or old, he saw only people, not their labels. Whether you were the Stanley Works CEO or an unemployed factory worker, Tony treated you the same. He was always a gentleman and always wanted to help. He encouraged many young teachers and political aspirants with his kind words and advice, including me as I ventured into the political arena as a candidate for Board of Education.

Tony Tercyak was the consummate “people person” and he had a true calling to public service. People involved in politics today could learn a real lesson from Tony’s gentle manner, selflessness and community spirit.

8) Do you think the right tone has been struck in political discourse these days or do you think there is too much finger pointing and not enough solutions?

Unfortunately, political discourse has taken on an overly negative tone, particularly here in Connecticut. The negative ads from both sides in the recent Governor and U.S. Senator elections are sufficient proof of that. It seems that candidates for office spend more time tearing down their opponents than talking about their own records or their ideas and solutions.

Also unfortunate is the personal nature of many of these attacks. Accusations, many without basis in fact, are thrown out against not only against the candidate, but their family members and businesses. These rumors and insinuations are then put out on the internet where they take on a life of their own. Much of this mud is slung anonymously on blogs. Even when proven wrong, vicious lies will still hang in cyberspace.

I think the media is partially to blame for rewarding this behavior with headlines and coverage. Print media in particular seems to gravitate toward the sensational, rather than do the research and get all sides of a story before printing it.

Office holders should focus more on what is best for the people they serve and less on partisan bickering and political gamesmanship. Republican or Democrat, we are here for the same reason: to give back to our communities and serve the public. By all means, question your opponents’ stand on issues, but not their motives or their personal integrity. And don’t just be a naysayer; make your criticism constructive with a solution.

No comments:

Web Tracking
Online Florist