105th District race: Conroy vs. Greene, Jr.

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BEACON FALLS — Republican Leonard Greene, Jr. will seek the 105th District seat his father held for 12 years by challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Theresa Conroy this November.

After several weeks of secrecy, Beacon Falls Republican Town Committee Chairman John Blesse revealed the party’s candidate Friday, and Greene, 29, made a formal announcement Saturday, before about 80 supporters. Greene is a finance board member in Seymour, also Conroy’s hometown, and expects to earn a master’s degree in public administration from Norwich University later this month.

The 105th District encompasses Beacon Falls, Seymour and part of Ansonia.

Conroy, who announced on April 12 her bid for reelection, succeeded Leonard Greene, Sr. in 2009. Greene, Jr. said Tuesday he has been dissatisfied by the district’s representation, since his father decided to not seek a seventh term.

Republican Leonard Greene, Jr. announced Saturday plans to seek election to Connecticut's 105th House District, challening Democratic incumbent Rep. Theresa Conroy.
Republican Leonard Greene, Jr. announced Saturday plans to seek election to Connecticut's 105th House District, challening Democratic incumbent Rep. Theresa Conroy.

“I was very disappointed with many of the votes that were cast on our behalf from our representative,” he said. “I just couldn’t stand it any more. I couldn’t stand on the sidelines and watch my representative cast the votes that she has, and I felt that the time was right for me to at least take action and put forth my name to offer a difference.”
Reached at the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon, Conroy claimed Greene’s opinion does not reflect those of most of her constituents.

“The citizens in the area keep telling me what I’ve done in the last two years is more than my predecessor in the last 10 years was able to do.”

Greene was particularly critical of Conroy’s September 2009 vote in favor of a $37.6 billion two-year state budget, which includes the current and 2010-11 fiscal years. While the former is expected to end with a $105 million surplus, according to a Monday statement by state Comptroller Nancy Wyman, the latter faces an estimated $736 million shortfall.

Conroy defended her vote, saying “I don’t think anyone could say that we’re happy with the budget, but it’s the best that we could provide for our residents of this state.

“I think we did an astronomical job,” she continued. “We cut over $3 billion out of that budget. … Our taxes didn’t really go up. We had to compromise with the governor. There were things, like when she doubled fees, I would say, as a citizen, that is like a hidden tax. But overall, we are surviving very well in this state. I don’t see a lot of people that their lifestyle has changed.”

Next year’s deficit projection would be roughly $2 billion, if not for $1.3 billion worth of revenue whose source was, until recently, unspecified.

Last month, the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee approved a Democratic plan to raise the $1.3 billion by extending electric companies’ “stranded cost” surcharges. More than a decade ago, restructuring of the electric industry threatened the ability of Connecticut Light & Power and United Illuminating to recover costs they had historically made up via electric rates. A 2000 act helped the companies to recoup these stranded costs by imposing a state-mandated surcharge, called the Competitive Transition Assessment. The surcharge was to expire in 2010, for CL&P, and 2012, for UI. Now, it could be extended—though reduced—another 10 years.

Under the proposal, the state would borrow $1.3 billion, in the form of bonds, against the revenue it would collect from those electric surcharges, to help balance its budget.

“I cannot fathom how anybody can reasonably vote in favor of trying to balance a budget through securitization,” Greene said. “The borrowing is completely irresponsible. It’s mortgaging our future. In my mind, it was akin to paying the mortgage with a credit card; it was just the wrong thing to do.”

Conroy said the CTA surcharge will likely cost each household about $30 per year, a small price to pay to help maintain public services, she reasoned, and that it is better than other measures the legislature considered, like eliminating property tax credits.

“I’m feeling comfortable voting on it because for $30 a year, we are not raising an income tax a half a percent or anything,” she said. “Overall, I think it’s something that I can stand proudly and say, ‘Yeah, this isn’t gonna be hurting people as much as other things could. I think it’s the best compromise that we could do at this time.”

Greene said his fiscal philosophy centers on reducing state costs rather than increasing revenues; if the state government were smaller, he believes, perhaps it wouldn’t have to conjure such creative ways to bring in money.

“Quite frankly, I really don’t believe that the state government needs to be as large as it is,” he said. “I think that spending can be decreased significantly. There are a lot of unnecessary commissions and boards and departments that aren’t really giving us enough bang for our buck, so to speak. … I know that there are several legislative commissions up there that I don’t know what the heck they do: Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. Those are small commissions, but the bottom line is that they’re adding to the size of our government that doesn’t need to be as large as it is.”