Rutigliano: Working for a solution

David Rutigliano
David Rutigliano

Talking to state Rep. David Rutigliano (R-123rd), it is generally not long before the word “work” comes up. The three-term incumbent enjoys talking about it almost as much as he enjoys participating in it.

“I’m a huge proponent of employment, and I aim to do everything I can to help people get it,” Rutigliano said Tuesday afternoon. “I’m a product of that system. I was washing dishes at 16 years old, learned from good people and applied to culinary school, and here I am.”

Rutigliano said his track record in Hartford bears out that philosophy. He was one of the GOP leaders in negotiating a pay equity bill in the last legislative session that bars employers from requesting applicants’ salary history on job applications.

“Proponents of the bill on the other side said that requesting salary history perpetuates someone receiving a lower salary, and I agree with that,” Rutigliano said. “This law should help minimize income inequality.”

Rutigliano also said he was proud of the work he had done to reform state licensure laws that require many different kinds of workers to get a state license to work in the state.

“Everyone agrees that doctors and nurses should be licensed, but you’d be surprised how many other jobs require them,” he said. “Beauticians and barbers, pool installers need a state license. They’re expensive and unnecessary impediments to getting a job. Why would you want to put hoops in front of people looking for work?”

Rutigliano even couches his positions on tolls, income taxes and the minimum wage in terms of work.

On tolls: “It’s a regressive tax on people driving to work. When you plan to place 22 tolls between New York and New Haven, you’re taxing people’s commute the farther they live from the more affluent towns down-county. You think the people living in Greenwich and driving to the city will even notice them?”

Income tax: “At least Bob Stefanowski is having a discussion about making it easier for people to live and work here. I’m not saying we’re going to be able to eliminate it, but I appreciate the conversation. Everything in life is a negotiation, and hopefully where we end up is better than where we are now.”

Minimum wage: “I don’t think Bob wants to eliminate the minimum wage. He said it’s best if the free market decides wages. I look at the minimum wage as a starter wage. For the vast majority of people, it’s their entry into the labor market. You want people to have the right job, but before that you have to get that first job.”

Should he win a fourth term, especially if Republicans make gains in the General Assembly and take the governor’s office, Rutigliano said he hoped to push to make Connecticut more competitive in attracting businesses and retaining educated workers.

“We don’t have New York City or Boston, what we always had was lower taxes to make us competitive,” he said. “That doesn’t really exist anymore; we’re about level, which puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Most of all, though, Rutigliano said he hoped voters would focus on their state races and not on the various controversies swirling around national politics.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in Washington,” he said. “We didn’t do great under Bush or Obama, we’re not doing great under Trump. Connecticut’s problems aren’t Washington’s problems. We have our own.”