HARTFORD — Local Republicans vying to unseat incumbent Democrats in the 105th Assembly District, which covers Beacon Falls, and the 17th Senate District, which covers part of Naugatuck, have signed a pledge saying if elected, they will pursue a legislative agenda focusing on accountability, smaller and more efficient state government, and above all, “common sense.”
Tamath Rossi, who’s running for state Sen. Joseph Crisco’s seat, and Len Greene Jr., who’s running against state Rep. Theresa Conroy, both signed the “Common Sense Commitment to Connecticut.” More than 100 state-level Republican incumbents and challengers joined them at a ceremony at the capitol last Wednesday.
The document, which consists of seven “principles,” each accompanied by a legislative framework that would facilitate its realization, aims to reinforce the state spending cap, bring state employees’ compensation packages into line with those earned by private-sector employees, restrict borrowing and bonding to hold down the annual costs of debt service, mandate bi-annual auditing of all state agencies and programs, privatize and consolidate some agencies, expand “job creation tax credits” while repealing certain business taxes, reduce or eliminate so-called “nuisances taxes” and fees, reduce unfunded mandates on municipalities, and give towns in fiscal distress the authority to negotiate labor contracts, among other things.
“It’s the entire, overriding commitment to accountability,” Rossi said of why she felt compelled to sign the document, which was paid for by the House Republican Campaign Committee and the Senate Republican Majority Committee. “The people that are incumbents have dedicated themselves in the way that they vote to [their] philosophy, and those of us that are challengers have now committed that this is going to be our philosophy,” Rossi added.
“The bottom-line principles we need to use when approaching state government are pretty much spelled out in that document,” Greene Jr. said. “Unfortunately, in my mind, a lot of them have been forgotten by Hartford over the last 30 years.”
Both candidates said a more robust oversight system would go a long way to curb wasteful spending on redundant state services and reveal outright corruption.
“There’s overlap, there’s duplication, and we’re not running efficiently,” Rossi said. “We really need to roll our sleeves up and get through these layers of reviewing and goal-based results and go from there.
“I’m not ruling out anything,” she continued when asked whether she’d be prepared to make painful cuts to state personnel or services to reduce the deficit, pay down the debt and pay for new tax incentives to businesses. “That’s one of the things that makes this a really challenging time to decide to want to go up to Hartford to serve. There are going to be very difficult decisions to make. It’s no different than the difficult decisions we’ve had to make in our own households.”
“We’re going to have to pare down our spending no matter what,” Greene Jr. added. “That includes efficiency measures, that includes looking at state employees—especially at the administrative level, who are making the large dollar figures—and getting rid of some of the redundancies and inefficiencies that exist. … I do think there are going to have to be some painful cuts made. I think we’re going to probably have to look at things like layoffs for state employees.”
Both candidates, likewise, stated they don’t claim to have a “magical,” fix-all solution to Connecticut’s budgetary and economical problems.
“There is no magic bullet,” Rossi said. “I’m not standing here saying we have a magic bullet. We don’t. What it’s going to take to change the situation we’re in is a major, major change in philosophy and the way that we do things.”
Greene Jr. echoed these sentiments, adding, “The bottom line is that these aren’t new principles. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff. … If someone has a better idea of some kind of magic wand or magical, fix-all scenario, then I’m all ears. But the bottom line is unless we go back to the basics and back to these founding principles and reevaluate what we’ve been doing over the course of time, we’re never going to get ourselves out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into.”
Republican Katheryn Brown, who’s running against Vickie Nardello in the 89th Assembly District, which covers Prospect, said she had not signed the document due to a prior commitment on the day of the rally.