FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Taxes and state spending are among the issues that state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28th District) plans to address when as the new state legislative session opens on Wednesday, Jan. 4, at noon in Hartford.
Other topics he will debate include jobs and the economy, transportation, and protecting social services and education.
“All of these topics require immediate action and, fortunately, addressing one, in essence, addresses the others,” Hwang said in a phone interview.
“We must end excessive borrowing and decrease spending in smart, responsible ways, to send a strong message that we can create a predictable, sustainable and transparent government," he said.
By making investments to improve the infrastructure's roads, rails and waterways, “We create a sustainable economic ecosystem that will help create jobs and grow our businesses," Hwang said.
The state can find the funds to make these improvements by privatizing certain state social services, moving to a defined contribution pension plan for state employees, and eliminating excessive and burdensome bureaucracy and taxes that hurt businesses, he said.'
Hwang, a Republican who represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport, believes that the State of Connecticut will be able to make the budget work.
One reason he is optimistic is because "balance" has been restored to the Connecticut State Senate -- there are now 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans.
“That tie is good news for taxpayers who, like me, are tired of learning of these unwanted surprises and want to see Connecticut get back on a path to long-term stability and success," Hwang said.
His plan for a balanced budget includes initiatives that reduce spending and create a leaner, more efficient government. He also suggested requiring a legislative vote on every labor contract and privatizing services where appropriate.
In many cases, the private sector does a better job delivering important services at more competitive costs, Hwang said.
“I propose privatizing duplicated dual delivery services. The state could reallocate the savings and provide additional funding to programs offering services directly to our communities."
Finally, he said, “We must respect the state Constitutional Spending Cap and fulfill the promise made to taxpayers two decades ago when we introduced the personal income tax.”
Hwang also questioned the state's $20 million in mid-year cuts to schools statewide. The Malloy administration announced those cuts in state Education Cost Sharing payments just last week.
The cuts in Hwang's district, along with the percent reduction, are as follows:
- Easton, $67,274 (27.4 percent)
- Fairfield, $570,798, (34.4 percent)
- Newtown, $186,185, (3.7 percent)
- Weston $118,049, (30.9 percent)
- Westport ($443,947, (48.8 percent)
Hwang said local officials should be able to count on their state education funding and not see large cuts in the middle of a budget year.
“The state’s funding system should be logical, predictable and transparent. It should not be about winners and losers. There should be no last-minute, 11th-hour surprises. The rug should not be pulled out from under municipalities," he said.
“Unfortunately, that’s what has happened here. The Malloy administration waited until half the fiscal year went by before letting towns know how much they would lose. That elapsed time makes these cuts even more difficult for towns to bear.”
He warned that without predictability, stability and transparency in state policies, the Connecticut government will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis.
“Those crises negatively impact the most vulnerable in our communities -- our children, our seniors, the sick and the disabled," he said.
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