The 30th State Senate District race features a freshman lawmaker and the man who lost to him in 2012. Republican incumbent Clark Chapin is once again being challenged by Democrat William Riiska for the district which includes New Milford, Kent and part of Brookfield.
Chapin previously served 12 years in the state House. He touted work to bring back some sale tax exemptions in the latest session, including the sales tax free week on back-to-school shopping. There was also a tax free prescription drug exemption that he fought to bring back.
Riiska has held local office and been on many boards and committees such as the United Way, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber, Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation, and the Northwest Center for Family Service and Mental Health now Connecticut Mental Health Affiliates. He spent 12 years as chairman of the Northwest Connecticut Chamber Government Relations Committee, and has been a member of that group for twenty years.
Chapin says the best way to grow jobs is to spend less and tax less. He wants to continue working on pro-business legislation. He’s been endorsed by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, The National Federation of Independent Business and the Connecticut Realtors. Municipalities get a share of the Real Estate Conveyance Tax, the legislature increased it on a temporary basis several years ago and it was supposed to sunset. But it became a permanent tax.
Riiska says Chapin's votes reflect national corporate interests rather than the interests of the people and small businesses of Northwest Connecticut. He was also critical of what he called Chapin's stock response to inquiries from constituents on issues. Riiska says there are only 36 senators, and the one representing the northwest corner of the state should be an advocate, an educator, a shaper of opinion.
This year the legislature created a new aquatic invasives program. Chapin says while there hasn’t been too much funding for invasive plants, there was a renewed effort to create a program within DEEP to give grant money to municipalities to fight invasive aquatic plants.
Riiska says if elected, one of his main goals is to get the state's economic house in order by passing realistic budgets that reflect rigorous long term planning. His plan for creating and retaining private sector jobs is by creating a fair and stable tax and regulatory system. He says in order to grow manufacturing jobs, community college and technical school programs need to be supported.
Chapin says mental health reforms will need a large pool of money to address it properly. But he says it’s something that needs addressing and is something most legislators would agree on.
Riiska says there will be economic growth if the road, rail, telecommunications, and energy infrastructure are maintained. He also made a pledge to fight for the towns in the District to get their fair share in eduction funding, and to protect open space. Riiska wants to address what he called long neglected mental health issues.
Chapin says almost $190 million has been taken out of the Transportation Fund for other costs. He notes that if the gas tax, which goes into that fund, was used to fix roads and bridges the state would be better off. He says if the state Department of Transportation has too much on their plate and is just collecting too much money, the legislature should think about lowering the tax.