State Comptroller District

Edward Heflin

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Party: Green Party

CEP Status: nonparticipating

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Current Residence: Bridgeport

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Kurt Miller

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Party: Republican

CEP Status: participating

Website: www.kurtforct.com

Age: 48

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Seymour

Current Job: First Selectman

Previous Job: CUNA Mutual Group

Previous Job: Plymouth Rock Assurance Company

Education: Southern Connecticut State University, Bachelor's Degree

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What is the single best way for Connecticut to reduce the cost of state government while still honoring labor agreements?
Connecticut's stagnant economy over the last couple of decades has created an atmosphere where expanding government is far out-pacing growth in the private sector, including taxpayers' own personal wage growth. Rather than downplaying the fact that people and businesses are fleeing the state at an alarming rate, and thus taking their taxable incomes with them, we must make structural changes to our and tax and regulatory structure to increase the number of taxpayers in our state. Until that happens, meeting the state's obligations will continue to be a struggle.
How would you help to better manage the state's finances to avoid the structural deficits that are continually built into the budget?
One-time revenues and gimmicks is simply not a strategy that will long-term for our state. We need to create an environment friendly to investment and job creators in order to actually increase taxable economic activity. Clearly, the current administration has pushed the state beyond the point of diminishing return when it comes to taxes and regulations. We must reverse course, smartly, in order to be able to end the state of permanent budget crises.
In 2016 the Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created. It will give over 600,000 residents in our state a way to save for retirement at work. Knowing that employees are 15 times more likely to save merely by having access to payroll deduction, how will you continue the implementation of this important program?
Any policy aimed at increasing workers’ ability to save for retirement is well-intended and a step in the right direction. We know that having an automatic payroll deduction makes it 15 times more likely that an employee will save for retirement. We also know that if workers save an additional $1,000 per year, the state government could see up to $90 million in savings over the next 15 years. Given the budget deficits we have been facing every year, this would be a step in the right direction. It is important that we encourage employees to save, as well as employers to assist in their employees’ retirements. While the plan needs some small changes to ensure it is not a burden on job creators, I support the movement to help workers save for retirement.
What changes would you make to lower the cost of state employee healthcare?
We need to take a holistic approach when it comes to providing healthcare to our state employees. All of the stakeholders - labor, management, and insurance companies - need to come together in a meaningful way to develop a sustainable plan that works for our employees and their families, as well as the taxpayers of our state.
If elected, what are your top priorities in terms of what you will try to accomplish over the next four years?
I look forward to working with the executive and legislative branches of our state government to acquire an accurate overall view of all state spending and to work with our elected officials to ensure taxpayer money is being spent wisely, prudently and properly. One of the first items of business would be a forensic audit of the state prescription health plan and of all general obligation bonding approvals over the last decade. Any waste, fraud or abuse must be rooted out in order to get our state finances on a path to solvency.
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide an estimated 427 million hours of care each year. Nationwide, nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving, including arriving late/leaving early, cutting back their hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely. Would you support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes?
As we talked about with creating ways for workers to save more for their retirements, we should also incentivize employers and employees to help make caring for family members more manageable for our families. By allowing employers to voluntarily offer paid family leave and to be able to take advantage tax credits, we could help address this issue. Also, allowing employees who set money aside for family care leave situations to receive some tax benefit would be helpful in these situations. Mandating paid family sick leave may sound appealing, but the damage it would do to Connecticut’s already grim economy would be truly devastating.

Kevin Lembo

19 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status: participating

Website: lemboforct.com

Age: 55

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: Guilford

Current Job: State Comptroller

Previous Job: State Healthcare Advocate

Previous Job: AIDS activist

Education: Master of Public Administration degree from California State University

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Would you vote for a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana? Why or why not?
As state comptroller, I do not have a vote on legislative matters. However, I would be willing to support the legalization of recreational marijuana if the revenue generated was guaranteed to fund addiction recovery services and public education. Connecticut has consistently broken its promises to residents by raiding funds meant to curtail smoking, and failing to provide enough treatment to those suffering from addiction. Any legalization measures should be met with commitments to not misuse the resulting revenue.
How should the state balance the needs of vulnerable populations with the reality of another large budget deficit?
Helping our most vulnerable neighbors is a shared value of our state and must be maintained even in challenging financial times. I have championed efforts to build Connecticut’s reserve accounts during strong economic periods precisely so those services can be protected during downturns when they are most needed. The state budget should be targeting middle class growth by investing in key industries, job training, education and infrastructure. Government must be run efficiently and every dollar of state spending should be scrutinized to ensure it is being used for its best purpose.
In 2016 the Connecticut Retirement Security Program was created. It will give over 600,000 residents in our state a way to save for retirement at work. Knowing that employees are 15 times more likely to save merely by having access to payroll deduction, how will you continue the implementation of this important program?
As one of the authors of the Connecticut Retirement Security program, I am extraordinarily proud that our state is extending opportunities to private sector workers to save their own money and retire with dignity. The program must be self-sustaining and with no reliance on taxpayer resources. As a board member, I continue to work tirelessly to ensure the program launches effectively, in a transparent manner, and will adequately serve every Connecticut worker who needs it.
A recent report found 40 percent of Connecticut residents can't afford basic needs such as housing, food, health care, or child care. What would you do to improve their situation?
The tax code needs to be rewritten from a blank page to ensure our budgetary intentions are keeping pace with the modern economy. Too much of Connecticut’s tax burden is placed on working families as tax credits, exemptions and loopholes go unchallenged for decades. I support a top-to-bottom review to bring relief to those who need it most and guarantee the wealthiest among us are truly paying their fair share.
Will you support top-down efforts to regionalize local services with an eye toward more efficiency and reducing the state's obligations regarding ECS and/or other funding for towns? How would you go about it?
State government should be financially incentivizing regionalization and remove any unnecessary regulations or mandates that are impeding that process. I support empowering the regional Councils of Government to explore more equitable and sustainable revenue collections and reducing the reliance on local property taxes, which are notoriously regressive and punitive to working families.
The 459,000 family caregivers in Connecticut provide an estimated 427 million hours of care each year. Nationwide, nearly seven in ten caregivers report making work accommodations because of caregiving, including arriving late/leaving early, cutting back their hours, changing jobs, or stopping work entirely. Would you support a family leave law that provides paid leave to employees who have to take time off for family caregiving purposes?
I have been a vocal supporter of instituting a Paid Family and Medical Leave program in Connecticut. Workers shouldn’t fear for their job when they fall ill or have to care for a loved one. I will continue to work to establish a program that gives workers the support they need without placing undo burdens on employers.
Where and how should state government focus its efforts in order to grow jobs?
State government should stop picking winners and losers and invest directly in the people of Connecticut. Our emphasis should be on education and job training that will grow the middle class and lower unemployment. We should invest in infrastructure projects like high-speed broadband and renewable energy that will help bring about the next generation of our state’s economy.
Would you support legislation to "ban the box," prohibiting employers from asking the question about criminal convictions on a job application?
Allowing those who have served their time to apply for jobs without bias is both morally right and economically smart. I support ban the box efforts.
Based on estimates that out-of-state drivers would contribute 30-40% of overall revenue if highway tolls are implemented in Connecticut, would you support tolls with or without offsetting cuts in the state's gas taxes?
Connecticut’s transportation funding needs to be more equitable and ask more of the out-of-state drivers and trucks that utilize our state roads. Any new revenue options should result in a decrease of the gasoline tax, which is antiquated and undependable. We should also explore the legality of a state tax credit for Connecticut residents that minimizes the impact.
Eversource and some out-of-state entities appear to be attempting to buy control of Connecticut's water resources, and some of our quasi-public water agencies have signed away large amounts of water to commercial interests with little regard to future water shortages. What can you do to ensure that Connecticut residents maintain control of public water supplies in perpetuity?
The residents of Connecticut should maintain complete control of their water supply. I believe water is a public trust and that legislation is needed to cement that fact in state law.
Much of Connecticut is economically and racially segregated because many towns lack affordable housing and local zoning regulations prohibit multi-family dwellings. How would you propose incentivizing municipalities to start allowing multi-family units and other affordable housing options?
State government should incentivize smart affordable housing projects by rewarding municipalities who adopt smart zoning rules with enhanced municipal aid for corresponding economic development projects.
How should the state address disparities in the Education Cost Sharing formula? What specific modifications would you suggest, if any?
The state should laser-focus on the most in-need schools and work with cities and towns to turn them around as fast as possible. The recent changes to the ECS formula are a step in the right direction but more resources need to be directed to priority school districts to ensure Connecticut students aren’t being left behind due to factors outside of their control.
Should the government's response to the opioid crisis be to focus on law enforcement to stop drug dealers, or improving access to treatment for addiction and reducing the overprescription of painkillers?
Law enforcement should be given the tools they need to take harmful drugs, including opioids, off the streets. We also must give them the support needed to handle the growing population of addicted residents and increase the availability of counseling, medically assisted treatment and rehabilitation services.