A two term Republican incumbent is being challenged by a community organizer to represent the 106th District of Newtown.
Republican incumbent Mitch Bolinsky says he's proud of protecting funding for Newtown schools. He also helped to bring dollars back to the district to help with mental health needs following 12-14. Even though there's been significant help, the healing continues. Bolinsky says the funding has been subjected to budget cuts.
Democrat Eva Zimmerman works with the Connecticut Public Interest Research Group, ConnPIRG. She filled a vacancy on the Legislative Council in Newtown for part of a term. The state deficit is one of her top concerns. Zimmerman says Connecticut is at a crossroads of figuring out a strategic plan. Her other priorities include education reforms and senior tax relief.
A priority for 2017 will be to balance the budget. Bolinsky says the state needs to change the way government spending money. He wants to see more investments in critical infrastructure, education reforms and mental health initiatives, while attracting good jobs back to the state. He called for using the resources Connecticut already has rather than raising taxes to get more resources. If the economy isn't turned around, Bolinsky says there may not be a Connecticut to come home to in a few years. Bolinsky says the alarm needs to be sounded because the recent tax policy has been so incredibly straining for residents and businesses. He says retirees, young people and businesses are all voting with their feet and looking for the exit.
Education funding is going to be a big topic in the new session. A more than decade old legal battle is headed to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Zimmerman wants to bring back education dollars to Newtown, including for social services. She says Newtown lost funding in the Education Cost Sharing formula. Zimmerman called the court ruling a perfect opportunity to make sure the state is doing the best for Connecticut children and those with special needs.
Zimmerman also wants to bring back funding to help seniors. She notes that a lot of seniors are leaving because taxes are too high. She would like to incentivize young people to stay in Connecticut as well.
Bolinsky is the ranking member of the Aging Committee. The Care Act has made Connecticut a leader in providing ongoing care and custodial services for people who are suffering from dementias such as Alzheimers. He says the Committee is also doing positive work for veterans and making Connecticut a leading place for allowing seniors to age in place. Bolinsky say a lot of the issues the Aging Committee are non-partisan. If more committees would work in a bipartisan manner, he says so much more could be done.
Bolinsky says Connecticut has passed the tipping point because each tax increase leads to decreased revenue as more companies and families leave.
While the General Assembly has implemented some school safety measures and gun control laws, mental health reforms have yet to be tackled. Zimmerman says she disagrees with Governor Malloy's decision to privatize group homes. Legislation has been considered to provide worker's compensation coverage for first responders needing mental health assistance for PTSD, but there were cost concerns. Zimmerman says that care should be covered.
When it comes to transportation infrastructure, Bolinsky says Connecticut has a long way to go. He says there are some good projects in progress now, but funding remains a concern. He says Connecticut has plenty of money; it's just not being appropriated correctly.