BY Citlalli Godinez
Professor Gary Rose held a discussion panel featuring Senator Tony Hwang and Representative Cristin McCarthy Vahey to discuss his latest book, “Connecticut in Crisis: Policy Challenges and the 2018 Contest for Governor.” The event took place in the Martire Forum on Sept. 25.
“I felt it was time to write a book that really called attention to lawmakers and governors. I want policymakers in particular to read this and recognize that we really do have serious problems going on in Connecticut,” said Rose.
“ ‘Connecticut in Crisis: Policy Challenges and the 2018 Contest for Governor’ took an election perspective. It took policy decisions and summed up that governing is a lot different than politicking,” said Hwang.
At the forum, there were many issues brought up, including taxation, pension liabilities, a spending problem, healthcare, and minimum wage. Rose said that “taxation is the most suppressing issue Connecticut is dealing with today.”
“We can’t dismiss the fact that the taxes are so high in Connecticut. We’re ranked as the most heavily taxed in this country,” said Rose.
Aside from taxation issues, according to portal.ct.gov, the state of Connecticut is going to raise their minimum wage to $15 by 2023. Governor Ned Lamont has signed off on this agreement.
Senator Tony Hwang gave an example and referenced McDonald’s. He made a point in saying that at McDonald’s customers can order for themselves on a computer, which requires one less employee.
Rose, McCarthy, and Hwang all stated different opinions on each topic, raising an unsureness in Connecticut residents on the future of the state.
“Even though the leaders all have different opinions, there’s a lot of more bipartisan agreements. Especially because our taxes are so high and I don’t know if I’m going to stay here after I graduate,” said sophomore Sean Martin. Rose said that there is a plan of action that should be taken into consideration.
“My observation is tax reform. I think tax reform is key. Unless we have meaningful tax reform, we are going to see a continuation of the problems we have,” said Rose. Another issue that came up was population growth.
“For the past 40 years, the state of Connecticut population has been flat,” said Tony Hwang.
Throughout the forum, Gary Rose kept referencing taxation. He said that the state should “lessen the burden on business and consumers.”
Connecticut needs “lower taxes on businesses to invest, create more, and innovate,” said Rose.
People in the audience raised questions and concerns as well.
“I’m really concerned for the future of the state and I hope that we can find ways to fix the crisis in the state. I’m also worried about my brother who has severe autism and I’m worried about his future in the state of Connecticut,” said sophomore Ryan Conte.
Healthcare was another issue discussed at the forum. Health insurance like Medicaid and Medicare were brought up in context of how Connecticut funds them.
“The state of Connecticut does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” said Tony Hwang.
Member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, Cristin McCarthy Vahey said, “Government is not a business.”