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Friday, July 21 Opinion

State Sen. Tony Hwang: No tax increase solutions in solving Connecticut’s budget crisis require discipline and courage

“After two major tax increases, obviously that’s not working. What’s left? Pain and suffering.”

“Yes, we did raise taxes, and maybe it didn’t necessarily have the effect that we were hoping for. We’re still in this situation.”

Both quotes are blunt. Both quotes are brutally honest. So, who said them last week?

The answers might surprise you.

The first quote is from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s tax commissioner Kevin Sullivan.

The second quote is from another Democrat: Connecticut’s Speaker of the House of Representatives.

They are stark admissions from state Democrats that the tax more-spend more strategy has failed. In fact, those policies have brought Connecticut to a tipping point. Uncertainty reigns, even more crushing tax hikes loom, and the exodus of state taxpayers continues to occur.

So, what now? How do we escape the quicksand of debt and tax hikes that is stifling economic growth and opportunity? How do we bring sustainability and confidence back to Connecticut?

Republicans have put forth a plan which seeks to break the vicious cycle.

It makes structural changes to the way state government spends your money.

It enacts a cap on state spending and bonding.

It requires the legislature to vote on union contracts.

It streamlines the state bureaucracy.

It begins a transition of critical social services to nonprofit community partners.

The Republican plan seeks to end Connecticut’s addiction to spending. At the same time, it does not raise taxes. Connecticut does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending discipline problem. Nutmeg State taxpayers pay enough in taxes as it is.

Our plan restores education funding for cities and towns, preserves vital services for our most vulnerable and at-risk residents, and protects state non-profit hospitals.

Breaking free of the quicksand won’t be easy. It will take discipline, courage and a willingness to confront state government’s systemic problems. It will require state lawmakers to take to heart the warning from Connecticut Business and Industry Association CEO Joseph Brennan, who said, “If this isn’t the wake-up call, I don’t know what is. If we can’t get this right now, I’m afraid we’re going to lose a generation.”

My conscientious colleague in the legislature, Sen. Toni Boucher, has sounded alarm bells. Those bells are finally being heard at the State Capitol.

You sent me to Hartford to make tough decisions and fix our chronic budget problems. You did not send me to Hartford to raise your taxes and cut school funding. As your state senator, I remind myself of that every day.

For our children and grandchildren, we can — and we must — drag Connecticut out of the quicksand.

State Sen. Tony Hwang represents Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston and Westport. Contact him at 800-842-1421 or Tony.Hwang@cga.ct.gov .

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