Valley Forum Tackles Education Reform, Transportation, Business Costs [New Haven Register]

March 19, 2012

Article as it appeared in the New Haven Register on March 18, 2012

By Patricia Villers

SHELTON — Education reform, transportation and keeping down the cost of doing business were among topics addressed this week at a legislative forum at the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce offices.

About 50 small-business owners, nonprofit representatives and concerned citizens heard Thursday what lawmakers had to say about bills that are in the works in Hartford. AT&T New England sponsored the event.

State Rep. Linda M. Gentile, D-Ansonia, talked about transit-oriented development that she said, “allows economic development initiatives to be centered around our transportation” hubs.

Gentile also said the Valley “has gotten it for a number of years” in the way communities do business and deliver services. She said there is “a collaboration among nonprofits” that is unique.

State Rep. Lawrence G. Miller, R-Stratford, told business owners that according to economists, the state will be in a deficit for two years. He also said their “unemployment tax may be going up,” from 0.8 to 1 percent.

State Rep. Leonard Greene Jr., R-Seymour, talked about the price of gasoline. He said he favors a bill to cap the gross receipts tax, which he said was a second state tax.

State Rep. Jason Perillo, R-Shelton, said, “We find ourselves in a deficit (situation) and the state needs to cut spending.”

He criticized a proposal to build a $600 million bus way from New Britain to Hartford “that nobody is going to use.”

State Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, said the state needs “to lower the cost of doing business.”

He talked about a proposal to build a Hartford to Waterbury rail line that could in turn connect Hartford to New York City. “I believe it would help people in the Valley” seeking employment, Kelly said.

Kelly also criticized the amount of money spent on nursing facilities. He said “the state spends over $2 billion” a year on aid to nursing homes. He said as an elder law attorney, he favors the concept of aging in place. “Home care is cheaper and arguably better. We need to look at ways to help people stay out of nursing homes.”

State Rep. Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said Connecticut did not save as much in pensions as employee unions had promised, and now the state “is bonding for day-to-day expenses.”

Derby resident Mary Porter, president of No Vet Left Behind Inc., posed questions about what is being done to support veterans.

Miller said the General Assembly usually votes in favor of legislation to aid veterans.