Local legislators agree taxes are too high
Updated 3:07 pm, Friday, October 18, 2013
State Senators Toni Boucher (R-26) and Scott Frantz (R-36), and State Rep. Tom O'Dea (R-125) hosted a town hall-style meeting in New Canaan Thursday night where they updated constituents on government topics.
The trio covered issue after issue, coming back time and again to two fundamentals: taxes and spending. The officials pulled up chairs by the audience and dove into their successes and failures in the last year.
"One of the reasons I got into it [politics] was because I was frightful for the future and future generations," Frantz said, before rattling off some startling statistics about the state.
In the last 25 years, state spending is up 318 percent, Frantz said, while the population has increased by only 9 percent. He also noted that inflation was at 98 percent over the period and that personal income is up 146 percent.
He said this year's budget was only balanced due to tax increases; several large estates, which were taxed; and through what he called, "fund sweeps," transferring money from specific funds to the state's general fund.
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"They're playing games with us and your hard earned tax dollars," Frantz said.
Boucher said the differences in how things should be handled come not from a malicious streak in the Democrats, but by a profound difference in ideology.
"You talk about Keynesianism and Milton Friedman's free market politics and they think spending is going to solve problems, they really do," she said, adding that due to the spending, the Democrats would be looking to alternate revenue streams, some of which she found to be unsavory. "Pot shops or Keno stores. I don't know what's worse!"
But most unsavory of all to the three Republicans was the haunting spectre of taxes.
"When I came to Connecticut in 1990, we had more jobs than we have now," O'Dea said. "There's a reason why we're in this situation. It's taxes."
Frantz pulled from his briefcase an article written in Forbes magazine in August of this year titled, "How Did Rich Connecticut Morph into one Of America's Worst Performing Economies?" and handed it to resident Eric Twerdahl.
"You might want to take some painkillers before reading it," Frantz said. He explained how for decades until the 1970s, Connecticut was an economic powerhouse. "Connecticut was flying high, the home base of Yankee ingenuity. Very low taxes, very little regulation, and very small government ... In the last 30 to 40 years we've gone from number one in a lot of categories to between 45 and 50 in a lot of business categories."
Another issue that struck a chord with the audience was the recent Metro-North train fiasco, in which a 38,000 volt Consolidated Edison feeder cable went dead, leaving the New Haven line operating at between 30 and 50 percent capacity.
"How in God's name they allowed this to occur is beyond me," Frantz said. "There will be hearings on this. How can they allow ConEd to have one feed without the redundant feed?"
He said the hearings would probably begin in January or February.
"It's a national security issue, I would say," Boucher added.
Twerdahl asked if infrastructure upgrades would be necessary soon.
"Given the loads now, 30 or 50 years from now are we going to be in big trouble?" he asked.
"Already are," Frantz replied.
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