GOP Viewpoint: Finally! Balance and progress

An historic session of the Connecticut General Assembly has begun under a new agreement between Republicans and Democrats to cooperatively manage the State Senate. As a result, for the first time since 1893, Senate Republicans are no longer the minority party and Senator Toni Boucher now holds the title of Chief Deputy Senate Republican Majority Leader, which brings her more authority and greater responsibilities.

She will now be a co-chairman on the education and co-chairman on the transportation committees where she previously served as a ranking member. She will also serve as vice-chairman on the Banking Committee, and as a member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee.

Sen. Boucher said: “I fully intend to leverage my position and experience on these committees to bring about the kind of changes our state so desperately needs. We must make structural changes to state government, the state budget, and state funding. Connecticut will only succeed if we improve the internal and external perceptions of our fiscal health, reduce burdensome taxes, shore up our infrastructure, and create sufficient, sustainable funding for our schools and municipalities. We have a lot of work to do, but real change is possible.

The opportunity to lead also means the responsibility to produce results. My constituents are counting on me and the rest of the caucus to give them a reason to stay in Connecticut, a reason to believe our economy will improve, and a reason to believe that government can be responsible. I have no intention of letting them down.”

Some of the issues Sen. Boucher intends to focus on this session include:

  • Ban overtime and mileage reimbursements from any pension calculation for any category of state employee including all legislators;
  • Raise required employee pension contributions from 2 percent to 8 percent;
  • Require legislative approval of all state employee contracts;
  • Require a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the legislature to adopt any unfunded municipal mandate;
  • Phase out the inheritance tax;
  • Eliminate state income tax on social security benefits;
  • Restore $32 million shortfall in care for kids program and find an offsetting reduction;
  • Set a minimum number of social workers for each high school at one for every 400-500 students to address mental health and special education issues;
  • Limit state colleges power to raise tuition without legislative approval;
  • Direct the commissioner of education to provide written guidance on model identification procedures, as well as best instructional and professional development practices to support gifted and talented students in Connecticut; and
  • Prohibit the state from implementing rail and bus fare increases without prior legislative approval.

“I believe if we are able to adopt these measures, as well as some of the others I am considering, it will make living, working, and doing business in Connecticut better for everyone.  We have a lot of work ahead of us and I am anxious to get started,” Sen. Boucher said.

The Ridgefield Republican Town Committee meets monthly on the third Thursday in the large conference room of Ridgefield Town Hall starting at 7:30 p.m.