Polls are open in Brookfield and parts of Bethel and Danbury to elect a new state Representative in the 107th House District to replace David Scribner. The Democratic candidate is Howard Lasser. The Republican is Steven Harding.
Lasser backs the widening of Interstate 84 in the region, expanding rail service up to New Milford and electrifying the existing line all the way down to Norwalk. Lasser says analysis needs to be done to show the economic impact of these projects will be worth the investment.
Harding says while he backs improvements to the rails, there are more pressing needs in the districts. He says it's important to note that Connecticut has no representation with the MTA board. He urged caution with over bonding.
When it comes to fostering small business in the district, Harding says businesses should work with universities and vocational schools on better internship programs that could lead to job opportunities. He wants to reduce regulations on small businesses. He also backs elimination of the corporate entity tax.
Lasser says the biggest impediment to a small business in the state is the personal property tax. Before someone even starts a business, there is a tax on the equipment. He wants to eliminate or abate them for the first few years that a small business is open. He says the state is essentially taxing the means of production rather than the results of production.
As for the state's new law raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017, Lasser says the conversation should be about a living wage. He says income hasn't kept up with the level of growth in corporate profits.
Harding says the mandate could drive small businesses out of the state or could cause layoffs. He called it a noble idea, but not a real job growth initiative.
The idea of legalizing marijuana for recreational use was discussed. Harding says he's probably the only 27 year old who doesn't support the idea. He questions whether it's a gateway drug. Lasser doesn't support the idea. He wants to see how the three states where it is legal resolves the issues surrounding the legalization.
Harding called the Education Cost Sharing formula patently unfair. He says the gap needs to be funded, maybe through an incentive-based funding. Lasser says ECS has never really been fully funded. He says it was created to equalize spending in all municipalities. He says high property values around the lakes could be throwing off the average.