Sen. Linares: “Excessive spending is what got us into this mess in the first place.”

April 15, 2013

Article as it appeared in The Lymes Patch

At just 24-years-old, State Sen. Art Linares (R-33rd District) was one of the youngest people ever elected to the Senate. As a Cuban-American, he is also one of relatively few Latinos to serve in the state Legislature. But where Linares is really in the minority at the Capitol is he’s a Republican in a Legislature dominated by Democrats.

When Sen. Linares arrived at the Capitol after winning election last November, he said he couldn’t help but wonder, “How did I ever get here?” After a couple of months watching the Legislature in action, he said, he found himself asking a different question: “I was saying, how did they get here?”

At a recent Town Hall meeting at Lyme Consolidated School, Linares offered an overview of the state’s budget and addressed concerns about the effect that Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget would have on municipalities such as Lyme.

Local Concerns

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno and East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica have spent a lot of time at the state Legislature recently lobbying against a number of proposals that threaten to take a bite out of town revenues.

The Governor’s proposal to eliminate the car tax, for instance, would severely impact all towns, including Lyme, Old Lyme, and East Lyme, that depend on locally-raised property taxes to fund the budget.

Everyone acknowledges that no one likes the car tax but to eliminate it without having a plan to replace that lost revenue really leaves towns in the lurch.

Linares said that members of the senate and the house have heard this from all the towns they represent and, as a result, “I don’t think the governor’s budget has a snowball’s chance,” he said.

Still, he noted, towns are going to have to proceed with their budgets without knowing that for sure.

“It puts towns in a very difficult situation for their budget planning,” Linares said. If the state passed the budget by June 5, he said, “it would be a miracle.”

Trends Linares Would Like to See Reversed

The Town Hall in Lyme was one of 13 that Linares has held since being elected. He said he felt it was important to visit all the towns he represents in the 33rd District, which include Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.

Although he’s not been in office long, Linares has compiled a long list of trends he’d like to see reversed. Here a some of the highlights:

Since 1987, Linares said, state spending has increased 318.7 percent while the population has remained mostly flat. This year’s proposed budget would increase spending from $19.169 billion to $20.279 billion.
“I think excessive spending is what got us into this mess in the first place,” Linares said.

Despite facing a $3.5 billion a year deficit, Linares noted, spending and taxes have continued to rise.
“Two years ago, we had the highest tax increase in our state’s history,” Linares said. “The Governor’s proposing a 9.6 percent increase in spending. I don’t understand that approach.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy proposes to increase state bonding from $2 billion in the previous fiscal year to $2.262 billion in the coming fiscal year.
“The governor plans to borrow to cover operating expenses. Debt is a bad thing if you don’t have a plan to pay it back,” Linares said.

Connecticut is currently the worst state in the country in which to do business.
Linares said a manufacturer he visited last week told him, “right now business and government is like oil and water. It’s just not working together.”

Linares cites the taxes the state imposed on Dominion’s Millstone Nuclear Power plant as an example. Those tax increases, pitched as a “shared sacrifice” to help the state get through the recession, were supposed to sunset after two years. Now the governor says the taxes will continue.

“Ultimately, the governor did not live up to his word,” said Linares.

Young people who are leaving Connecticut because they can’t find jobs close to home after they graduate.
“I have a bill that’s going to allow businesses tax credits if they train new graduates [for available positions],” Linares said. “We have 18-30 year olds leaving the state. It’s important to retain that workforce.”