As Election Day approaches, Fairfield Patch is committed to keeping readers up-to-date with the latest news, announcements, and Letters to the Editor related to the town's candidates for office.
Patch sent five questions to each candidate running to represent Fairfield on a statewide level. The following responses came from Chris DeSanctis, the Republican running against Democratic incumbent Kim Fawcett to serve Fairfield's 133rd District.
DeSanctis, who resides in Fairfield with his wife Deneen and three children, holds a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in public policy, according to his campaign website. He is the principal at Grace Christian School in Stamford and also works as an adjunct professor at both Sacred Heart University and Norwalk Community College.
In 2006, DeSanctis was appointed by Gov. Jodi Rell to the Merto-North New Haven Rail Council and has also worked on the state's Property Tax Cap Commission.
He served on Fairfield's Representative Town Meeting in 2011.
To learn more about DeSanctis' background and his campaign platform, visit his website, chrisdesanctis.com.
1. Why are you running for office?
All my life, I've been passionate about helping others improve their lives, which is why I have gravitated to the fields of education and public service. I have also always been interested in government and public policy, which explains my decision to major in government at the graduate school level, teach government at the college level, and serve on Fairfield’s RTM and a couple of state commissions and councils. I have been particularly motivated to get involved in public office in recent years because it seemed to me that our state, which has been effectively controlled by one party ever since our new constitution was adopted in 1965, has been headed in the wrong direction and was fast approaching a point beyond which a crisis would severely limit our options and severely damage our reputation. For example, Connecticut has had a declining population since 1990, it is one of only three states to have experienced a net job loss since 1990, and it was recently described by Barron’s as the worst managed state in the nation. Despite its serious problems, foremost among which are the fiscal and competitive problems that are driving seniors, young people, job-creating businesses and families out of our state, I believe that if we end one-party rule and send diligent, responsible, independent leaders to Hartford, we can put Connecticut back on a positive course before it is too late. I hope to make an important contribution to solving our problems, realizing our potential and making Connecticut prosperous once again.
2. What skills do you have that can help you represent your district in Hartford?
I believe the skills that will allow me to be an effective state legislator are: (1) my respect for the obligations I have as a legislator to listen to and learn from my constituents, to communicate effectively with them on the issues and the positions I am taking on their behalf, and to provide strong leadership in the Assembly on the most critical issues affecting them; (2) the expertise I have developed as an Adjunct Professor at Sacred Heart University teaching government and public policy; (3) my understanding of Connecticut’s problems and opportunities, and my ability to articulate them and to formulate and propose common sense responses; and (4) my appreciation of the need to work collaboratively with all members of the Assembly to find the best solutions and initiatives.
3. What are the three biggest issues affecting your district? How would you address them?
As I visit with my District 133 neighbors, the concerns I hear most often are: preserve the affordability, quality of life and property values in our town. We can only do this by sending diligent, responsible leaders to Hartford who will not relentlessly raise state taxes and fees, and will not raise our local property taxes with unfunded mandates that, for example, allow unaccountable arbitrators to decide what we pay our public employees, and force us to pay substantially more than we would otherwise to build or renovate our schools – Fairfield should make these decisions, not Hartford.
If elected, I will focus on the critical issues; exercise independent judgment; and provide responsible leadership. “Critical Issues” means the very serious fiscal and competitive problems we must solve; it does not mean, for example, reducing our dependency on plastic bags. “Independent Judgment” means that issues should be decided on their merits in the best interests of the State; it does not mean voting along party lines 97%-98% of the time. “Responsible Leadership” means strong advocacy for spending cuts to address our near-term budget problems, and for strong private-sector economic growth that will allow us to create jobs and to fulfill our intermediate and long-term goals; it does not mean casting symbolic votes against the budget, complaining briefly and timidly about too much spending, and then reverting to “business as usual,” nor does it mean showing up for less than half of your committee meetings and public hearings.
4. What is something Connecticut has done well in the past two years? What is something the state could have done better?
One thing that Connecticut has done well in the past two years is to implement (at long last, after the law was passed in July of 2007!) the so-called “e-recycling law” as of January 1, 2011. In the words of the State’s Web site on this subject:
“In July of 2007, the State of Connecticut was one of the first of a growing number of states to adopt a law concerning the recycling of household electronics. Under the e-waste law, residents will have convenient and free opportunities for recycling their computers, monitors, printers, and televisions. It requires manufacturers to finance the transportation and recycling of these electronics, and retailers to provide the consumer with recycling information. For more information on the e-waste law, please visit our Connecticut E-Waste Recycling Law web page.”
Meanwhile, there are many things the State could have done better over the past two years, starting with the massive tax increase ($1.8 billion) signed into law on May 4, 2011, and promoted to the citizens of Connecticut under the false banner of “Shared Sacrifice.” The other side of the sacrifice was supposed to be $1.6 billion in savings over two years (and $21.6 billion over 20 years) from concessions by state employees. In fact and to no one’s surprise, the administration could eventually document only $1 billion of savings, and the deal was so sweet for the unions, including a four-year no-layoffs guarantee, that their chief negotiator crowed that he was going to Washington DC to teach other unions how to replicate it.
When, again to no one’s surprise, we ended up with another deficit in fiscal 2012, the legislature, on June 30, 2012, passed what was called “An Act Making Adjustments to State Expenditures,” but should instead have been called the “Creative Accounting to Cover Up State Budget Deficits Act.” Among other things, this act covered a $144 million deficit with funds that had been set aside to repay debt that was incurred to balance the budget in fiscal 2009. By not paying back that money, our State effectively borrowed money to cover another operating deficit.
One bill that passed both the House and Senate with near-unanimous support and was signed into law on October 27, 2011 was entitled, “An Act Promoting Economic Growth and Job Creation in the State.” The good news is that it featured a wide range of measures designed to boost small business growth and job creation, which means that members of the majority party in Hartford are finally thinking about what the Governor calls “22 years of job stagnation.” The bad news is that, in a state that already has the highest debt and unfunded liabilities in the nation, these measures will be paid for with $626 million in new borrowing in fiscal years 2012 and 2013 (with another $75 million to come later), the total cost of which, including interest over 20 years, will be $1.1 billion (not including the $75 million). Although the Governor assured legislators that other borrowing would be deferred in favor of the “jobs bill” in order to keep the State within its bonding limits, only time will tell whether that pledge will be kept, just as it remains to be seen if the funds will be well spent (e.g., more than half of the initial bonding, $340 million, will be used to double the size of the Governor’s First Five Program, which is supposed to provide incentives to companies that commit to create at least 200 new jobs). If, as I believe, one of the greatest disincentives for any company (small, medium or large) to invest or reinvest and to create jobs in Connecticut is the prospect of substantially higher taxes in the future to pay off its humongous unfunded liabilities, then borrowing more money and raising taxes to pay it back, plus interest, will never work. To paraphrase what Winston Churchill said, trying to tax [and spend and borrow] ourselves into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle. At some point, we will simply have to make some tough choices and reduce the size of our bloated state government.
5. If elected (or re-elected), what would your primary focus be coming into the next term?
I am firmly convinced that the single most important thing any Connecticut state legislator can do is to focus on the very serious fiscal and competitive problems we face. I will not repeat all of the evidence of those problems, but it should be clear to anyone who reads or listens to the news that, by numerous objective measures, we live in one of the worst managed, highest taxed, least business-friendly, most indebted states in the nation.
Following the recent financial crisis, governments in neighboring states recognized the need for spending and tax restraint; here in Connecticut our one-party government, under a false banner of “Shared Sacrifice,” responded with higher spending, increased fees, and the biggest tax increase in the State’s history. Little wonder that our 9% unemployment rate is significantly above the national average, that we have regained only about one-quarter of the jobs lost during the recession, and that even our Governor, who is “paying” companies millions and millions of our tax dollars to stay in Connecticut, recently acknowledged that, “We’re not going to reverse 22 years of job stagnation in 20 months.” When the massive 2011 tax increase wasn’t enough to avoid a $144 million budget deficit in fiscal 2012, our State borrowed more money to pay its operating costs, and even bigger deficits are in store for the current and coming fiscal years. We should all be very worried about what all this means for our future quality of life, taxes, affordability and property values.
One party has controlled and badly mismanaged our state for over 40 years, and I hope the voters will agree with me that it’s time to try something different. Any reform efforts I attempt in Hartford will be much more productive if a majority of Connecticut voters decide on November 6 that one-party rule since 1965 has not served our towns and state well.