Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Lesser Speaks to Westfield Residents
Representative Matt Lesser gave his perspective on the state’s budget woes and fielded questions from concerned residents at the Third Congregational Church in Westfield last night. Lesser, who represents about half of Westfield in the Capitol, was the featured speaker at the Westfield Residents Association quarterly meeting (disclosure: I am vice-chair of the WRA). About 25 residents came to hear from him about the impacts of decisions in the Capitol on Middletown.
Lesser blamed the state’s $3.3 Billion deficit on previous governors, in particular John Rowland, whom he said used “gimmick accounting” and borrowed money to finance too many pet projects.
Connecticut’s newly elected governor, Dannel Malloy, has agreed with the Democratic leadership in the State Legislature on a balanced budget which relies on $2 Billion in concessions from state workers, consolidates state agencies and raises taxes. Lesser said that these negotiations were not completed, but he seemed hopeful
Lesser acknowledged that state expenses must be cut, “We’ve got to cut spending, but you’ve got to do it intelligently.” He said about taxes, “Priority has to be to protect middle class and seniors.” He said Governor Malloy’s budget plan was fair, in that it requires a sacrifice from everybody, “The good news is that everybody is unhappy.”
Lesser said that the budget maintains last year’s level of funding for Middletown, most of which comes in the form of an Educational Cost Sharing grant.
Energy costs were another topic of concern to both Lesser and residents of Westfield. Lesser, who serves on the Energy and Technology Committee, said one of his priorities in the budget is to make sure that it contributes to a lowering of electricity prices. He also called for a reduction in the use of energy by the State.
Lesser said that he was opposed to a proposed 3 cent increase in the state gasoline tax.
The most vocal Westfield residents in attendance were concerned about the efficiency of government operations, expressing outrage about the number, the salaries and the performance of state workers. Ed Dypa also expressed his concern that in a state with an aged population of 20%, the State Department of Aging has only 4 or 5 employees.
At the end of the 90 minute presentation and discussion, Lesser received warm applause from residents, who were grateful to Lesser for the opportunity to hear what is happening at the State Capitol.