Fasano & Yaccarino Hold North Haven Town Hall Meeting

March 4, 2016

The North Haven Citizen

To keep residents updated on the latest happenings at the State Capitol, state Rep. Dave Yaccarino and state Sen. Len Fasano hosted a town hall-style meeting at the Mildred A. Wakeley Community & Recreation Center on Feb. 29.

The pair frequently hold meetings early in the morning, at McDonalds, but the evening meeting at the Rec. Center brought out a larger crowd.
“It was requested by folks that we do it in the evening, and we were pleased with the turnout,” Yaccarino said. “A lot of people were upset with the issues we discussed, but that’s fine.”

Residents were troubled by the disparate state budget numbers, with Fasano noting a budget deficit of $266 million for FY16 that will continue to increase. “Next year’s prediction is for a tad under $900 million, and the numbers may increase on April 15,” Fasano said. That is the date taxes must be filed by, and a shortage may accrue. “When people leave the state there may be a dramatic change in those numbers that will make our deficits larger,” the senator said.

Residents expressed frustration about the repeated annual deficits in the state budget and the subsequent tax increases imposed. Many shared stories about friends and businesses that have left, or are in the process of leaving, Connecticut because they cannot afford to stay. Furthermore, residents shared their concern about jobs leaving the state and cited General Electric’s move and the possibility of Sikorsky following suit. Fasano said Aetna is also in the process of leaving.

Education issues were also a hot topic on this night, with one resident, a teacher at a vocational school, bemoaning decreased state funding and criticizing vacant teaching positions that are denying students the access to proper training.

Fasano said there are 79 vacancies. “The positions are being held open because of budget deficits, but they are incredibly important because they provide essential training for urban residents who are not going to college,” he said. “We try hard to protect funding for vocational schools, but the governor made across-the-board cuts of 5.7 percent in February.”

Attendees of the event included liquor store owners who disagree with the governor’s proposal to eliminate the minimum bottle pricing regulation which, they say, would allow larger stores to sell liquor for less than small stores can afford to.

Yaccarino opposes the move. “Minimum bottle prices protect small businesses, but the governor wants to get rid of them,” he said. “They keep small businesses in operation. Alcohol is a controlled product and we don’t want it to get out of hand, so we regulate it.”

While residents are angry about certain issues, the local legislators assured them that they are fighting on their behalf.

“As your elected officials, Len and I always keep in mind that we are your voice in the State Capitol, and we work diligently to ensure that we represent each of you and your families accurately,” Yaccarino said.

“Connecticut is a great state, but, clearly, we need to change the direction we are heading if we want to reach our potential and build a better future for our families,” Fasano said. “Rep. Yaccarino and I are committed to getting our state back on track in these difficult times. I thank everyone who came out to share their ideas and questions with us.”