[NEW CANAAN] Nine Republican gubernatorial candidates convened at Sachs Middle School on April 18 in New Canaan to debate the toughest issues facing Connecticut and proposed solutions. The candidates who participated were: Prasad Srinivasan, Mike Handler, Peter Lumaj, Steve Obsitnik, Mark Boughton, Mark Lauretti, Dave Walker, David Stemerman and Tim Herbst. This was the fifth and final debate before Republicans gather at the State Convention on May 11 to nominate a candidate for governor.

The unfortunate reality is that Connecticut has been in a recession for 10 years. By some accounts, the state is the slowest to recover from the recession. Sadly, Connecticut’s problems began more than 25 years ago. Spending has gone up exponentially since 1992 – far faster than inflation; and Connecticut family incomes have not been able to keep up with tax and spend policies. There is no doubt, Connecticut is in crisis

The nine candidates represented a diverse mix of professional experience ranging from business executives, legislator, mayor, and physician. Each candidate drew upon his unique experience to highlight new and revolutionary ideas as to how to address budget and pension obligations, infrastructure, taxes, jobs, affordability for inhabitants and businesses, public safety, and education and addiction.

This is the most important race in the history of Connecticut” – Dave Walker

This election is about the next generation” – Tim Herbst

Budget, Taxes, and Pensions

Mark Boughton expressed a plan to phase out income taxes over the next 10 years and give Connecticut the marketing tools to attract people and businesses. Steve Obsitnik proposed using sovereign power to restructure pension and welfare programs and better leverage technology for customer services. Dave Walker cited his experience in actually shrinking the size of government…

Dave Walker

Posted by Wilton Republican Town Committee on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Transportation and Infrastructure

Tim Herbst noted that the transportation crisis is one of the worst issues facing the new governor. This year, the Governor had to cancel approved transportation projects. If Herbst were governor, he would call for the Commission of Transportation to answer questions pertaining to many mistakes including a busway to nowhere. All candidates said they would call for a stop to raiding the transportation fund, including true lockbox protections, and public-private partnership to rebuild infrastructure.

Connecticut, No Longer an Affordable Place to Live

Mark Lauretti pointed to the fact that Connecticut has become unaffordable because of taxes, regulations, and cost of services. All businesses need power, and light-manufacturing, a strength of Connecticut’s, especially so. He noted that electrical rates in Connecticut are some of the highest in the nation and that the state can’t keep giving tax incentives to get companies to stay.

Education and Jobs

Mike Handler proposed partnering with businesses and UCONN to build technology centers (utilizing available building space) where young people could acquire the necessary skills to get high-paying jobs with employers in the state. Steve Obsitnik proposed partnering with schools and business to create two knowledge corridors to help people acquire skills to fill thousands of open positions with Connecticut’s defense industry.

Steve Obsitnik speaking about the decline of manufacturing in CT.

Posted by Wilton Republican Town Committee on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

David Stemerman pointed to the Massachusetts model which raised standards to help close the achievement gap. Many candidates are in favor of having the money follow the child. Establishing free market choice will improve the quality of education. Additionally, Mark Boughton recognized, beyond the need to offer choice, accountability must be established not only by the schools but also by the parents.

Public Safety

All candidates expressed a need to balance and protect the second amendment and vulnerable citizens, especially children, at schools and in parks. Dave Walker recommended a holistic approach. While none of the candidates raised their hand in favor of arming teachers, all agreed for the need to protect children with resource officers, no matter the cost, and it should be the state’s priority even if communities cannot afford it. Peter Lumaj pointed out that everything we think is precious is protected by guns. Every school needs to have an armed guard. Mark Boughton added that the instrument of violence is not the cause of violence rather we need to address mental health issues and do training. He said the system failed people in Parkland and that in Connecticut, the mental health bills passed post Sandy Hook have not been funded. Prasad Srinivasan, a practicing physician highlighted that every school in Connecticut is supposed to turn in a school safety and lockdown program. Sadly, less than 50 percent have done so. He also pointed to mental health improvements that can be made to improve safety, without the need to compromise second amendment rights.

Drugs and Addiction

Prasad Srinivasan offers approaches to that Important steps to curve opioid crisis education choices, prescriptions should be monitored, make sure they are stored and disposed of safely – making emergency treatment of Narcan available (You can get a quote from video)

If you’d like to watch the debate in its entirety, please click here.

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