Senate race preview: Anthony Musto

The legislature has done some good work in the last two years, but there is much more to do, according to state Sen. Anthony Musto, D-22nd District.

Musto is seeking a third term representing the district, which includes Trumbull and parts of Bridgeport and Monroe. He said voters are expressing concern about the state of the economy, but they are encouraged by the steps the state has taken.

"When they find out about our jobs bill and the steps we're taking with some of our job training and incentive programs, they seem happy," he said. "Generally, they like that we didn't cut aid to municipalties, too. We could have cut the budget if we'd let the towns fend for themselves, but we didn't do that."

The biggest challenge the legislature may face in its next term is health care. Musto said the federal and state health care mandates have resulted in some positive changes, such as the prohibition against denying someone coverage for pre-existing conditions and the mandate that adults up to 26 years old may stay on their parents' policies.

"We've spent a lot of time looking at how the state will implement the federal health care law," he said. "But if Mitt Romney wins the election and is able to get portions of the law repealed, it could be back to the drawing board."

Musto said his biggest goal for this year's budget is to start putting money aside, but he said the state has had trouble meeting its revenue goals.

"It's not like having a property tax, where you can just raise the tax rate to meet your revenue needs," he said. "There are a lot of things we have to look at, but the goal is to save money without cutting services."

An example of maintaining services while saving money is the new home health care option, where non-psychiatric patients may receive nursing care at home rather than being admitted to nursing homes.

"It benefits seniors because they can stay in their homes, plus it saves the state money," Musto said.

The state also must follow through on some of the grants it gave to businesses looking to relocate or expand in the state.

"We need to ensure those projects pay off with an increased tax base," he said.

One thing Musto said he did not favor was an increase in the tax rates, saying he would be "very hesitant" to support any tax hikes.

"I don't speak for the Democratic caucus, but I have said the state can't do that and shouldn't do that," he said. "If we have to cut more from the budget, we'll cut more, but we can't keep changing the tax rate."

Businesses and individuals need a sense of stability to feel comfortable making investments in Connecticut, Musto said.

"We have to say this is appropriate and we'll stick with it," he said. "We can't change the rate every year."