The candidates for state house Districts 57 and 59 participated in a forum at East Windsor High School Friday night.
Sponsored by the Student Government Association and the Social Studies Department of the high school, the candidates answered questions they were given in advance. Andrew Masters, social studies department head, said the issues were given to the candidates in advance so they had time to prepare their answers.
In the first round, District 59 candidates incumbent State Rep. David Kiner, a Democrat, and challenger Joseph Bosco, a Republican, described their contrasting views on questions. After redistricting, District 59 will now include about one third of East Windsor in its boundaries.
Kiner said he is running for re-election because he was raised in a house where there is a commitment to public service. He said he wants to go back to Hartford and be a voice for Enfield and East Windsor.
Bosco said the hardest thing about running for the seat is he respects Kiner and considers him a friend. But he chose to run for state representative because he thinks things
are going terribly wrong in state government, with taxes being too high and too much spending.
When asked about how the state and local government collects revenue, Kiner said municipalities have been too reliant on property taxes. During the current budget, the state legislature did not cut aid to municipalities and began sharing some sales taxes.
Bosco said you have to look at how you’re taxing people. He said as a member of the Enfield Town Council, they were able to pass a budget with no tax increases.
Kiner countered that Enfield was able to do that because the state didn’t cut aid to municipalities.
When asked about shared sacrifices in dealing with the state’s fiscal woes last year, Kiner said the legislature cut the budget, increased taxes and got concessions from state employees.
“I’ve said there’s no way we could tax our way out of the problem and there’s no way we can cut our way out of the problem,” Kiner said.
Bosco said it was a myth that the budget was reduced. He said the governor and legislature increased spending.
“I’d have no problem paying more taxes if I knew other people were taking the hit,” Bosco said.
In the District 57 portion of the forum, incumbent Christopher Davis, a Republican, and challenger Jason Bowsza, Democrat, spoke of their differing views of the legislature and why the are seeking election to the seat. The district represents East Windsor and Ellingon.
Davis said during his first term he has prided himself on being accessible to residents in East Windsor and Ellington. Davis said the important thing facing the state right now is jobs and that Connecticut hasn’t had job growth for 20 years.
Bowsza said during his campaigning he’s found that people are tired of the partisanship at the capitol. He said people are hurting, worried about their jobs, how to fee their families and pay their mortgages. He said they need to focus on solutions and not advancing political parties’ agendas.
When asked about state and local revenues, Davis said he would like to see a bill that would require the legislature to have a two-thirds majority to approve new taxes or mandates. That would lessen the impact of partisanship, he added. He said he would also like to see sales tax revenue increased to municipalities and reduced for the state.
Bowsza said the property tax structure is unfair to taxpayers, it doesn’t reflect on a person’s ability to pay or the amount of services they receive. Until the legislature has a serious discussion about that, nothing will change, he said. Until then municipalities have two options, reduce spending or increase taxes, which all have done.
When asked about shared sacrifices on solving the state’s problems, Davis said the people who saw sacrifices were taxpayers who saw their taxes increases. He said he thinks there are four areas the state should invest in: public education; public safety; public transportation and public health. Everything else should be subject to some reductions, he said.
“I’ve always supported reducing taxes instead of increasing spending,” Davis said.
Bowsza said he thinks the state needs to reduce its debt service. He said the state should limit bonding to school buildings, roads and infrastructure and water safety. He said legislators should be open to each other’s proposals and work together.
“You can’t build a budget on one shot revenues and irresponsible cuts,” Bowsza said.
When asked about job growth and keeping businesses in Connecticut, Davis said he had been personally effected by the job market when he was downsized a month before his wedding. He said the company he worked for moved his job to another state. Becoming business friendly and do that by reducing the cost of doing business.
Bowsza said he would introduce a bill that would give grants to small businesses seeking to expand as long as they keep and create jobs in Connecticut. If they are willing to invest in Connecticut then Connecticut would willing to invest in them.