Republican Legislative Priorities: Opportunity for all

January 8, 2019

By Senator Len Fasano and Representative Themis Klarides

The following Op-Ed appeared in the Hartford Courant.


Connecticut should be a place where all people can successfully live, work and raise a family. Our state has a talented workforce, some of the best educational and medical institutions in the country, and the potential to lead the nation in innovation. But too many families are struggling to make ends meet. People suffer from crushing tax burdens, slower economic growth than neighboring states, unaffordable health care and a jobs market that never fully recovered from the Great Recession.

Connecticut Republicans want to create an environment where jobs can grow, where all children have fair access to education, and where core values like accessible health care and equality are protected.

In short, our goal is to create opportunity for everyone. Here’s how we hope to achieve it:


Preserve the progress Connecticut has made to live within our means.

Under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, we saw record-breaking spending, taxing and borrowing jeopardize resources for the most vulnerable and inhibit growth. However, over the last two years legislators stood up to the governor by passing bipartisan budgets that included new caps on state spending and borrowing, along with provisions to prevent the state from relying on volatile revenue streams, and that avoided another historic tax increase. As a result, this year’s budget now has a surplus, and we’ve seen positive growth. But future financial challenges remain. We must protect the caps and the progress we made to get spending and borrowing under control without turning to tax increases. Republicans and Democrats both recognized the need for these controls. We cannot backtrack.


Support fair education for the next generation.

Education is a core function of government, and school funding must be protected. For years, under Democrat rule, our state divvied up education funding based on politics, not need. Two years ago, that all changed. Lawmakers developed a new bipartisan education funding formula that takes into account factors including poverty, wealth, number of English language learners, along with population growth and decline, to distribute education aid fairly. Yet despite these bipartisan reforms, some leaders still talk about eliminating all education funding for certain towns. We cannot allow that to happen. We also cannot shift teacher pension costs onto cities and towns — a move that would result in teacher layoffs and property tax increases. The state has to meet its responsibilities to educate our children in every town and city. That’s what our new bipartisan education funding formula accomplishes.


Make our state more business-friendly by improving transportation.

Connecticut needs to improve transportation infrastructure to make our state more competitive. Republicans have a plan to invest $70 billion over 30 years to fix our ailing transportation system without new taxes and without tolls. Our plan works within current state resources, leverages federal dollars and applies the state’s new bonding cap. A portion of this plan was actually included in this year’s bipartisan budget, which allowed us to contribute a historic amount of funding to transportation. Full implementation would help us achieve our long term goals without relying on tolls and new taxes — proposals that would only further burden families and businesses.


Prepare for the financial problems on the horizon.

Connecticut’s pension costs are expected to explode in the coming years. Experts also believe another recession is coming. Now more than ever, we must continue fiscal restraint and take further steps to adequately pay into our pension funds to reduce our overwhelming debt. Republicans have put forward proposals to better fund these costs. We also must work to protect the rainy day fund when the future has so many uncertainties.


Continue bipartisan efforts to advance core Connecticut values.

Connecticut is not like Washington. In our state, Republicans and Democrats have accomplished a great deal by working together. We’ve led the nation when it comes to health care issues. We’ve set an example for how to fight hate crimes, achieve pay equity and increase access to health care for women. But more must be done. Under the current system, health insurance premiums are growing, making it difficult to access care. We need to develop affordable health care solutions independent of Washington. We also need to collectively figure out how to make paid family medical leave work without adding new unmanageable burdens onto job creators or the state at a time when resources are already strained.

We need to continue to set an example for the entire country that we can accomplish much more when we all work together and put policy before politics.


Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano represents the 34th Senate District, which includes East Haven and Wallingford and parts of Durham and North Haven. House Republican Leader Themis Klarides represents the 114th House District, which includes Woodbridge and parts of Orange and Derby.