Hwang vs. Dean in 134th District race
After two terms representing the 134th District, Republican Tony Hwang said there is still much he hopes to accomplish in Hartford.
"We've already started the process of making a difference, but I know we can do more," Hwang said. "I want people to be proud of their representative and how hard I work for their interest."
Hwang is facing a challenge from Democrat Heather Dean representing the district, which includes parts of Trumbull and Fairifield. Both are Fairfield residents and Dean is a member of the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting.
Dean, who owns a day care center that employes five people, said her top goal in Hartford was to give incentives that enabled small businesses to expand.
"Most small businesses have one employee, the owner," she said. "With proper financial incentives, some of these businesses can grow until the owner has to hire someone to help them out and we start getting people off the unemployment rolls."
Dean said low-interest loans for businesses that are seeking to expand and hire more employees would be a good start.
"We started this business in our home when I was student teaching, and now we have one full-time and four part-time employees," she said.
Both Hwang and Dean favor streamlining state government. Hwang said there was money to be saved in the information technology structure.
"Did you know every single state department has its own IT system?" Hwang said. "Some of these departments are running a system so old that they had to rehire someone who was retired because he was the only one who could program in COBOL."
COBOL is a computer language that dates back to the mid-1950s.
Hwang has proposed merging IT systems in Hartford and also doing away with longevity bonuses, which essentially give cash payouts to state employees for not leaving the job.
"Can you imagine that, in this day and age?" he said.
Dean pointed to another area where she saw wasteful spending — drivers for elected officials.
"Other than the governor, do they really need someone to drive them to events?" she said.
Dean said she favored spending cuts before raising taxes. Other cost-cutting measures Dean supported included moving state employees onto defined contribution plans and away from pensions.
"That's something Fairfield is already doing with its employees," she said.
One area she said she would not cut, though, is state support for public education.
"If we're going to bring 21st Century businesses into the state, they need workers with a 21st Century education," she said.
Hwang said the key to bringing businesses and workers into Connecticut is making it more affordable to live here. He also touted the role small business will play in the state's economic recovery.
"These small business owners are the most intergral part of our community," he said. "They are our neighbors, our friends, our Rotary volunteers and Little League sponsors. This needs to be the Year of the Small Business."
The best way to help small business is to give them confidence that the state won't continually make it more expensive to conduct business, he said. One way is to work toward making health care more affordable, without adding to the financial burden of any taxpayer.
The current budget is $60 million in deficit just four months into the fiscal year, raising fears that another tax hike is imminent," Hwang said.
"We continually place a disproportional tax burden on these businesses and their owners because we aren't willing to make real, discernable cuts," he said.
Finally, Dean said the state needs to address its transportation infrastructure as a way to help businesses operate efficiently.
"I've talked to Gov. Dan Malloy and we need to get freight off our highways," she said. "The federal government, New York and Connecticut need to rebuild the Poughkeepsie Bridge and get some tonnage off the highways and onto rails. We still need trucks, but we can take the bulk of interstate freight off our highways."
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Full text of Heather Dean's candidate statement here.
Full text of Tony Hwang's candidate statement here.