The Observer asked the candidates three questions. They were given the option of answering one to three of them as long as their total word count did not exceed a number assigned by paper. The questions were: A: What should the General Assembly do over the next two years to help the state economy? B: There has been a lot of finger-pointing this election at the president and our departing governor. Why are either figure relevant to the problems of Connecticut? C: Other than the economy what are the top issues the General Assembly must address in the next two years. Why?
William A. Petit, Jr. MD
House District 22
A: Over the next two years (FY 20 and FY 21), we as a state face an excessive $4.6 billion deficit that must be addressed. Despite having recently instituted spending, bonding, and volatility caps for the first time in history, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do to improve our economy. Privatization of certain government functions is required in order to continue to provide the quality services at an affordable cost. Some items to consider would be the sale of unutilized land and buildings and the institution of strict enforcements to prevent fraud and waste — per the recommendation provided by the bipartisan auditors office. For example, unauthorized state employee compensation time, no bid contracts, lost/missing equipment, unauthorized rehiring, etc. In addition, we must decrease cost of government by the consolidation of committees, and their respective staffers, and move towards a joint appropriations and finance committee to streamline our budgets. We should consider the consolidation of a number of agencies, as well.
We must also focus on job creation by improving and accelerating funding for programs that help manufacturers and other blue-collar industries. We must continue to work with businesses to reduce regulations that do not increase worker safety but hinder productivity and increase overall costs. We can begin by phasing out the business entity tax.
B: The governor and secretary of OPM are most relevant here as they pushed their budget priorities through their majority in the House and one vote edge in the Senate. Through hard work and perseverance, the 2017 joint Republican budget passed through both chambers, a first for a minority party in the nation; however, it was ultimately vetoed by the governor. I feel the Republican budget represented a better overall package than the final bipartisan agreement that was reached late in the year. Our governor and OPM secretary must lead us towards lower spending, holding the line or lowering taxes, and reducing the size of our government. In terms of the federal government, we will need to decide how to formulate tax and spend policies with the new tax bill in place and encourage our federal House representatives to work out equitable migration policy that will allow new workers and families to join us in a legal and orderly manner that is fair to all.
C: The other top issues are to: a) ensure adequate housing and resources for the elderly and disabled; b) help vo-tech schools, community colleges and state universities teach students in a way that gives them adequate training for the many jobs, especially in manufacturing, where positions remain vacant; c) establish a bio-tech/bio-science hub associated with our universities to take advantage of our highly educated populace and plethora of excellent researchers to drive research and job creation; d) continue to support the rights of victims, especially victims of violence and sexual assault.