As the clock winds down to Election Day, candidates for the Connecticut state Senate and House are crisscrossing their districts in last-minute efforts to get their message out.
Here's a sampling of what some of those candidates are saying in forums, debates, and media interviews in towns and cities around the state.
Sixth Senate District
(Berlin, Farmington, New Britain)
Democratic incumbent Terry Gerratana faces two challengers in the Sixth Senate District, Republican Charles Paonessa and petitioning candidate Sharon Beloin-Saavedra, who lost the party primary election to Gerratana.
In an October 25 Hartford Courant interview, Gerratana acknowledged that "tough decisions in terms of spending cuts" will be needed next year to resolve projected billion dollar-plus state budget deficits.
She told the Courant she wants a more progressive state tax system, taking more from the wealthy and less from the poor and middle class.
Paonessa said Connecticut needs more fiscal conservatism and less regulation of business. He favors cutting the state workforce through attrition.
"The state is spending its way to financial disaster," said. "I will refuse to increase any taxes on the people. Instead, I will insist on more efficient government to save money."
Beloin-Saavedra said she'd consider scrapping some appointed state jobs to save money.
"I would look to reduce any budget line item not directly connected to quality of life services, public safety and economic development," she said. "Raising taxes without raising personal income is a losing proposition."
12th Senate District
(Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison, North Branford)
“We already have a mileage tax and it is called the gas tax," Wilson said.
"And if we stopped raiding the revenues from that tax we would have enough money for us to keep our roads and bridges in good shape."
Kennedy said it was time for Connecticut to consider tolls at the state's borders, "to capture the revenues whizzing by, filling up in Rhode Island and driving right beyond us.”
“There are millions of cars every year using our roads," he said. "Every other surrounding state has tolls, except Connecticut.
"I voted for a [transportation] lock box in last legislative session. I think people would be willing to pay a little more so that money is safe and locked up and go toward fixing roads and bridges.”
13th Senate District
(Cheshire, Meriden, Middlefield, Middletown)
Both addressed the state's fiscal issues in October 24 interviews with WTNH News 8, with Suzio pointing out that Bartolomeo voted for the second largest tax increase in state history in 2015.
"The budget was in a position that we’re in because of past pension liabilities to a large extent as well as a volatile level of income tax reliance," Bartolomeo said.
The budget taxed so many things that everyday, ordinary people use and so it was really heavily borne by the middle class.
“It taxed so many things that everyday, ordinary people use and so it was really heavily borne by the middle class and the lower income people, disproportionately so," he said.
14th Senate District
(Milford, Orange, West Haven, Woodbridge)
“With the budget as it is, we’ll have our challenges in the next session,” Slossberg told the New Haven Register.
“We need to continue to make Connecticut a strong place for businesses to grow our economy."
Libero said she decided to run for the seat because “so many of my friends were leaving Connecticut because they can’t afford to live here any longer.”
"We should change our business environment,” she said. “In West Haven, our taxes are skyrocketing, and cutting taxes would attract more business."
17th Senate District
(Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden, Naugatuck, Woodbridge)
Logan told the paper he was running for state Senate because he is concerned with keeping businesses in Connecticut, saying "the state needs a new direction."
“There are areas where the current leadership in Hartford is failing; particularly jobs and the economy,” he said. “We have to get our fiscal house in order.
“Companies are leaving our state in droves and we’re not doing enough to stop the outflow of companies leaving. We have a very unfriendly climate for business.”
Crisco said he was proud to serve because, “I want to make life better for people in the 17th District and the state of Connecticut.”
“Everyone is concerned about the economy, healthcare and senior issues; there are lots of things that affect peoples lives,” he said.
28th Senate District
(Easton, Fairfield, Newtown, Weston, Westport)
Hwang said fiscal and policy unpredictability were among the reasons General Electric moved its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston this year, saying “businesses have to plan in five-, 10-, 15-year cycles. The state has not done that.”
Dwyer said the biggest issue with the state's business climate was over-regulation and a lack of friendliness in solving problems.
On taxes, Hwang said while taxpayers don’t begrudge paying their fair share, “people simply think the state spends too much. There is no true fiscal accountability. People feel as if they’re being taxed and that money is going into a black hole.”
The state legislature should do its job and say what is economically sustainable, what we can afford, and pass a real budget.
“I think the state legislature should do its job and say what is economically sustainable, what we can afford, and pass a real budget,” he said.
Hwang noted that voters overwhelmingly supported a constitutional spending cap more than two decades ago, a cap that lawmakers have not enforced.
“Unfortunately, for the past 25 years we did not have an enforceable spending cap,” he said. “Let’s honor that commitment, let’s honor that vote. We have a responsibility to live within our means."
29th Senate District
(Brooklyn, Canterbury, Killingly, Mansfield, Putnam, Scotland, Thompson, Windham)
French who lost in 2014 to Flexer by just 520 votes, said the state’s current fiscal health was in critical shape, with the legislature failing to implement long-term spending reforms.
"As a businessman, that's the problem I'm seeing here," he said. "There are no plans. We are overspent."
Flexer said capping pensions for non-union employees was an example of curbing spending, while adding that doing the same for unionized state employees required “a conversation that is respectful."
She also reiterated her support for a paid family leave program, which French called an unfair burden on businesses.
38th House District
During an October 12 debate, McCarty said voters in the district were frustrated with the state's ongoing budget crisis.
“I’m hearing the same from all of the doors that I knock on,” she said.
“They want to live here, they want to retire here, but they’re worried about the fiscal health of Connecticut and are asking, ‘Can we please get something done?’”
Palmer, a former union president who recently retired as the state's labor commissioner, said she wants to see “everyone” come to the table to help bring down healthcare costs for state workers and address wage stagnation.
“I think that the cost of labor in Connecticut is high, the cost of benefits in Connecticut are high," she said.
"Not just for unionized employees—that’s for all employees. We need to look at everything in this budget crisis.”
Shaw said she has noticed apathy among voters in the district, saying she’s trying to represent the Green Party as an option for those disenchanted with the two major parties.
60th House District
(Windsor, Windsor Locks)
Storms told the Hartford Courant he will focus on prioritizing spending, balancing the budget, easing restriction and taxes on small business, and eliminating unfunded mandates on towns, while maintaining funding for safety nets and education.
We need a new voice, a voice of common sense.
Curtis said that he will focus on finding ways to maintain funding for schools without increasing taxes, making it easier for small businesses to access loans and other programs, expanding manufacturing programs at the state's community colleges, and helping seniors.
"One of the things I know from going through the budget wars in Windsor was there was always talk about the education budget being too high," said Curtis.
64th House District
(Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Kent, Norfolk, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington)
Ohler called for overhauling the state's budget process, suggesting a number of structural reforms, including moving public employees from defined benefit pension plans to 401(k) retirement plans.
Riiska suggested adopting long-term budgeting using 10-year projections to avoid revenue fluctuations and having non-profits manage more state services.
105th House District
(Beacon Falls, Derby, Seymour)
Asked how she’d balance the budget without raising taxes, Klarides-Ditria said her philosophy was simple.
“Spend no more than you make," she said.
"If it ain’t broke don’t fix it; if it is broke, get rid of it; and keep government out of it as much as possible."
Conroy said budgets are never easy, and she supported a number of difficult spending cuts this year, including cuts to mental health services and technical high schools.
“When times get tough, we need to make cuts. And yes, services have been cut, but to the least common denominator,” she said.
“I will continue to fight for funding for our technical schools, our hospitals, and our mental health programs.”
Conroy also said she was focused on ensuring technical school students get training to fill skilled manufacturing positions.
Klarides-Ditria said incentives to small businesses, in a state that is “not business friendly,” were critical.