Boucher: A Republican vision for a better Connecticut
At a time of uncertainty and upheaval, I find myself reflecting on some of the positive, proactive steps taken by our party since my arrival in the senate in 2009.
At that time, Connecticut, like other states, was facing the worst economic crisis since the great Depression. We had a new leader at the top of our state, a super majority party in the house and senate, and a massive budget deficit.
Being in the minority party, the task ahead appeared daunting. However, instead of deferring to those who controlled the process, the budgets, and the votes before our legislative body, Republicans were proactive. We rolled up our sleeves and proposed one alternative budget after another. We did that every year in an attempt to sway our colleagues toward more fiscally responsible solutions.
Despite the other party’s assertions, we presented real budgets offering real change. We believed then, and now, that our budgets would move Connecticut toward a robust economy with growing job opportunities. We believe responsible taxing and spending policies would create a more business-friendly environment, and would give taxpayers needed financial relief.
We were called obstructionists and the party of ‘no.’ In fact, non-Republicans spend a tremendous amount of time telling the public what it means to be a Republican. They could not be more wrong!
For me, being a Republican means having a vision of a better Connecticut. It means being self-reliant, industrious, fiscally responsible and compassionate to those that need our help. It means being forward thinking, not just to the next year or next election cycle. It means thinking about the impact that decisions we make today could have on future generations. Are we leaving them a legacy, or a burden?
Part of the legacy is the unanimous passage of the nation’s toughest hate crimes law and legislation that protected our environment and open space, women’s rights, marriage equality, civil rights, as well our children.
A party’s budget reveals its priorities. What services do you prioritize when spending taxpayers’ money?
I can tell you that as a Republican, I support a budget that creates a new Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Formula that provides state funding for all of Connecticut’s students, urban and suburban. I support providing the necessary funding to care for our elderly, our intellectually and developmentally disabled residents, and those most in need that are doing their best to make a living and support their families.
I support a state budget that provides funding for our municipalities without asking them to pay for bad financial decisions made by the state. I support a transportation plan that contains bonding for crucial infrastructure needs and mass transit: one that does not include tolls, more taxes, or fees.
Which brings me to taxes. The budget proposal my Republican colleagues and I put forth – correction: the six budget proposals we presented this year - included no new taxes or tolls on our overtaxed residents and businesses. Instead, we relied on changes to reduce the high cost of running government by making it more efficient. We consolidated functions like human resources, communications, and information technology. We reduced the number of deputy commissioners and executive secretaries to one per agency. We also reduced legislative franking privileges, the number of legislative committees, and the number of staff hired for each legislative session.
Democrat leaders in the legislature did not allow our budget to be put to a vote.
However, we remain undeterred. As Republicans, my colleagues and I are determined to have our constituents voices heard. We continue to present ideas to save our state from financial ruin. We continue to advocate for reduced regulations and a more business-friendly climate that will create and grow jobs.
No matter the setbacks, we will press forward with a vision of what our state can be: a Connecticut with an expanding middle class, where all children receive a good education, where everyone has the opportunity to find a good job or to create and grow their own business.
That’s what being a Connecticut Republican means to me.
State Senator Toni Boucher represents the 26th State Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.