“If little Plainville can do it, why can’t the state of CT?” (Plainville Citizen)

February 3, 2016

Plainville Citizen

The Connecticut 2016 legislative session began Feb. 3 and state senator Henri Martin enters as a member of the minority party who seeks to bring about monumental changes to improve the budget.

Martin and his senate colleague Joe Markley from Southington spoke about state financial problems at the Plainville town hall Feb. 2 and answered resident questions about a variety of issues.

“The budget outlook for the next two years is going in the wrong direction,” Martin said. “We have a $2.2 billion deficit and the budget deficit through 2020 is alarming with deficits remaining at or near that level.”

Martin and Markley criticized tax increases and higher spending. Markley said, “State spending has increased seven percent a year since 1992 and we’re last in economic growth of all 50 states. There is another massive tax increase ahead for 2017 unless we elect better legislators.”

Both legislators criticized the Democrats for state financial problems. “The outcome of one party rule has led to the largest tax increase in state history,” Martin said. “The state has a fundamental budget problem with unsustainable spending that can’t be fixed.”

He said, “We need to lower taxes and decrease government spending to attract businesses and jobs.”

Markley commented that GE’s decision to leave Connecticut “was not because of what’s happening now but what will happen in the future. If we don’t take steps now more businesses will leave.”

Residents asked questions regarding highway tolls, the gas tax, a balanced budget, state employee layoffs and early release for criminals. Both legislators thought highway tolls are unwieldy and would result in a loss of federal funding paid to the state since it doesn’t currently have tolls on interstate highways.

Increasing the gas tax while gas prices are low may seem feasible but high gas taxes hurt residents when gas prices were high and should not be increased now because gas prices may increase, the legislators said.

Balanced budgets are projected every two years, but are not attained due to spending increases, Markley said.

Union members have protested state layoffs and Martin said the state should retain employees that are needed and cut excessive jobs to save money.
Markley answered a resident’s question about early criminal release with reference to his call for the repeal of the early release bill. “It’s up to the legislature to end the early release of violent criminals,” he said.

Town council chair Katherine Pugliese commented on the town’s ability to balance its budget while the state fails. “The council and the Board of Education work well together to limit budget increases to 1 percent a year over the past five years without reducing services,” she said. “If little Plainville can do it why can’t the state of Connecticut do a better job? We do such a good job but the state doesn’t and it will come back down on us.”

“Do you want to run for governor?” Martin asked her, which drew laughter and applause from the crowd.