A former Mayor is looking to unseat a long time state lawmaker in the 30th Senate district, which includes Brookfield and New Milford. Republican incumbent Craig Miner is facing a challenge from Democrat David Gronbach.
Response to the conoravirus pandemic will likely take up a lot of time during the next General Assembly session.
Miner says it's not just a physical health risk, it's a mental health risk, an economic risk and an overall troubling circumstance. He says a lot of the work he's been doing is helping people cut the red tape in getting unemployment benefits. Miner says the state has not done a good job when it comes to controlling the virus in nursing homes. He did support the idea of a COVID positive return unit.
Gronbach says testing is the key to give people confidence they can go to work safely. He also wants better track and trace capability and expanded access to health care. He agrees with a lot of the measures that Governor Lamont has taken in response to the pandemic.
Despite fewer commuters, there will be required infrastructure improvements in the state.
Miner says there's been a reduction in the gas tax as more people are working from home and the Special Transportation Fund is on the brink of insolvency. He recommends the federal government recognize that the pandemic has caused a problem in the state's ability to raise it's portion of funding. Miner says the state should look at privatization for running passenger service into New Milford. He doesn't think there's enough rail ridership to have the extension be self-sustaining.
Gronbach says the pandemic has flipped commuting on its head. He doesn't want to expand I-84 because it will only encourage more drivers to crowd onto the highway. He wants to instead expand infrastructure so people can work from home more efficiently. Gronbach opposes tolls for passenger cars, but could get on board with truck tolling.
When it comes to affordable house, Gronbach wanted to make a distinction from Section 8 housing. He notes that affordable housing has income limits and is often times seniors, single parents, teachers and the like. He touted several affordable housing options that opened in New Milford, but says they were successful because they fit with the character of the surrounding community. He says there is room for improvement in the 8-30g law.
Miner says many communities have done well in developing affordable housing, for seniors and others. But he says the infrastructure cost is a problem. He says the state has sent bond dollars as an incentive to build more affordable housing. He doesn't agree with withholding state funding, as proposed in the past, for education. He called for workforce housing so that nurses, teachers, police and firefighters can live in communities where they work.
A bill was passed in special session to hold utilities accountable through performance-based rates.
Miner says there needs to be more staff in Connecticut and doesn't believe there was enough oversight of the out of state crews who came in for the last big storm. He supports the measure that prevents a company from charging ratepayers for failures in response to big storms. Miner believes Eversource has grown too large and was unresponsive to municipal leaders.
Gronbach was critical of Miner for opposing a bill in 2012 that would have set the standard of 2 days without power before rebates kick in, and capped executive pay. Miner says the bill didn't prevent the utility from recovering funds on the backs of ratepayers. Gronbach agreed that there needs to be minimum staffing. He called for power lines to be buried because most roads will need maintenance over the next 10 years anyway. Gronbach says when they are redone, Eversource should be required to bury the lines at the same time. If that was done 10 years ago, he says the job would have been half way done by now.