How many issues facing Connecticut can you talk about in 90 minutes? Quite a few, it turns out. A forum on the future of the state\u2019s legislative was hosted by the Democratic Town Committee earlier this month, and covered a range of topics from healthcare to pension costs. First Selectman Rudy Marconi and Aimee Berger-Girvalo, the Democratic nominee to represent Ridgefield's 111th district in the state House of Representatives, fielded anonymous questions from an audience of around 40 townspeople in the conference room beneath town hall. The discussion was moderated by Katherine McGerald, a former Ridgefield Board of Education member and current member of the Ridgefield League of Women Voters. State Rep. John Frey, the incumbent who Berger-Girvalo will face in November, was also in attendance. Pensions While the event was nominally focused on Connecticut\u2019s legislative future, most of the questions revolved around the state of the economy, and how to handle the cost of pensions promised years ago to teachers and other public-sector employees. Berger-Girvalo said those costs would require new negotiations to ensure the state can continue to pay its bills. \u201cThe shortest answer is that pensions\u2026 we can\u2019t hold where we are,\u201d she said. According to Marconi, one proposal from the Governor last year would have seen local municipalities shoulder about 30% of the statewide cost for the pensions. That would have meant a bill of about $4 million for Ridgefield, he said. \u201cThat Ridgefield doesn\u2019t get a say in that\u2026 seems absurd to me,\u201d said Berger-Girvalo It was one of several issues Marconi and Berger-Girvalo said should be met with stronger communication between town officials and state lawmakers. Marconi suggested that lately, that communication has been a one way street, as Hartford expects local officials to fall in line. \u201cThere is an attitude in Hartford that the local elected officials need to be told what to do.. that doesn\u2019t look good to me,\u201d he said. Funding schools According to Marconi, the biggest issues Hartford and Ridgefield could benefit from talking about are education and the state\u2019s transportation infrastructure. \u201cBeing in Fairfield County is a blessing, but it\u2019s also a curse,\u201d Marconi said. \u201cThe attitude in the state is that Fairfield County gets too much money.\u201d Overlap between the town and its lawmakers in the capitol would improve how the town\u2019s concerns \u201cget conveyed back to Hartford,\u201d he said. Transportation Marconi and Berger-Girvalo both made a case for additional tolls on state highways. \u201cIt\u2019s probably no surprise that I am for tolls,\u201d said Berger-Girvalo, adding that the state loses money to Massachusetts every year on interstate travel. Marconi said that improvements to electric cars every year mean the state\u2019s income from the gas tax will decline in the future. While other states on the eastern seaboard can rely on tolls, Connecticut is not. \u201cIf you drive to Florida you\u2019ll see, we are missing the boat,\u201d he said. Berger-Girvalo said that transportation infrastructure is also tied in with other developments and improvements \u2014 including revitalizing the area around Branchville train station, and attracting new families to move to the area. Attracting new young people to town is difficult, however, when a train from Branchville to Stamford takes 45 minutes, which Berger-Girvalo said she recently timed. \u201cI could have gotten there faster on my bicycle,\u201d she said. \u201cIt all has to work together.\u201d Healthcare and opiates The opiate crisis, and concerns over the future of the Affordable Care Act \u2014 Obamacare \u2014 were also on residents minds. Berger-Girvalo suggested the issues were linked by a lack of preventative care, due to the high costs for healthcare. She also suggested the state should have more regulatory power to rein in the cost of prescription medications. \u201cThere is very very little oversight at the state level... that\u2019s something we have to blow wide open,\u201d she said. \u201cThat\u2019s a bleeding that\u2019s gotta stop. It\u2019s gotta stop right away,\u201d she later added, responding to a similar question. But Marconi chose a slightly different track on the opiate crisis. He argued that a plan to file a lawsuit against major manufacturers of opiate pain-relievers \u2014 which have been linked to growing rates of opiate addiction, including black market heroin \u2014 would not let money trickle down to the people who need it the most fast enough. Instead he suggested it might be time to \u201cmake the deal with the devil\u201d and work with pharmaceutical companies to prevent addiction in the first place. He noted that Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures OxyContin, one of the leading opiate painkillers, has recently begun giving money to start an addiction-prevention program in schools. During a \u201clightning round\u201d of questioning one audience member asked if either of them would support an expanded state healthcare program, such as the state\u2019s SustiNet plan, or Medicare for all. Both Marconi and Berger-Girvalo said they would. \u201cEveryone should have health care. Period. End of story,\u201d Berger-Girvalo told the room, which erupted in applause. \u201cPre-existing conditions should not be a phrase that we use anymore.\u201d \u201cAgreed. How\u2019s that for lightning?\u201d said Marconi.