In Harwinton, Sen. Jason Welch makes pitch for fiscal concerns (with video) [Register Citizen]

May 5, 2011

Register Citizen
Story as it appeared in the Register Citizen on May 5, 2011

HARWINTON — On the eve of the state budget’s eventual passage, one legislator took time to talk to his constituents about their concerns.

State Senator, Republican Jason Welch, who represents Harwinton, Plainville, Bristol and Plymouth, addressed approximately 20 residents about the state budget. The proposal offered by Gov. Dannel Malloy passed the state senate by a 19-17 vote.

Welch was one of the dissenting votes.

“I think our future can be bright,” Welch said, “but we’ve got to start over.”

Senior Republican whip John Piscopo, who represents the 76th District — comprising Burlington, Harwinton, Litchfield and part of Thomaston — was initially to take part in the presentation, but was unable to attend the address, since the House of Representatives was voting on the budget that night. According to Welch, the tax increases are too much to stomach, especially for businesses.

“These are people that could have brought jobs into the 31st District,” Welch said.

According to a presentation Welch brought, the Malloy plan increases taxes across several categories, adding taxes to other items that were not previously taxed, such as limousine services, pet grooming and hazardous waste removal. However, two new taxes hit closer to home for Welch. As a father of seven, Welch said, the taxes on clothing and shoes under $50 would impact him and families like his deeply.

“We’re constantly going through sneakers,” Welch said.

Additionally, Welch’s district includes Bristol Hospital, and the initial budget proposal would have crippled hospitals such as Bristol’s. Welch remarked that Bristol Hospital operates on a tight margin — in the range of $1 million — and the original budget proposal would have cost Bristol Hospital an additional $3.7 million. This figure has since been lowered, but the Senate voted on the bill under the belief that they were not voting on the hospital taxes, Welch said.

“We were told we weren’t voting on the hospital tax,” said the state senator. “That’s no way to operate.”

Welch acquiesced that the Republican plan’s elimination of some tax credits could be construed as tax raises. However, the state senator said the plan balances the budget without raising taxes — stating that “we are already taxed enough” — by reducing redundancy in state government, as well as privatizing institutions such as Bradley International Airport and Riverview Hospital in Middletown.

“I’m still going to be a loud voice for getting government spending under control,” Welch said.

Welch reasserted his role as a voice against spending increases, and his willingness to speak on the topic for people outside of his district. The state Senator said he had received emails from people throughout Connecticut supporting his budget stance, remarking that while people who were not previously involved in politics have done so in the past years, “it’s too bad that it took a crisis like this to make it happen.” Similarly, Welch said, his constituents need to keep the pressure on other legislators as well.

“You’ve got to reach out beyond Harwinton,” Welch said, “if real change is going to come.”