Candidates in the 67th District state House race came together Tuesday for their only scheduled debate of the issues.

The program at New Milford Library was sponsored by the Litchfield Hills League of Women Voters and drew a quiet audience of about four dozen people.

On topics from tax reform to job creation, Democrat Andy Grossman and Republican Cecilia Buck-Taylor often butted heads, while Green Party candidate Nicholas Payne went his own way.

"I agree with a lot of what Mrs. Buck-Taylor says about runaway spending in Hartford," Grossman said. "Drastic steps have to be taken. We're facing a ticking time bomb."

But he bristled at Buck-Taylor's assertion that the tax breaks Connecticut gives to attract new businesses to the state have failed and are the kind of wasteful government spending she would work to stop.

"A $291-million tax break was given to Jackson Lab -- a company that failed in Florida and has not produced the jobs promised here," Buck-Taylor said.

Grossman rebutted that Jackson Lab is a "bio-science magnet that will attract more bio-science business to the state" -- a ripple effect he will work to create in the state if he is elected.

All three candidates agreed the state budget deficit must be cut.

"I want to take New Milford to Hartford," Buck-Taylor said, "to bring the kind of A-plus review to finances there that New Milford was recently given by a Webster Bank executive for its fiscal management. I'm part of that in my role on the Town Council."

Grossman said raising taxes is not the answer.

"We're already taxed to the limit. The answer is through cuts in spending, and the best way to make that cut is through cuts in health care (costs)" reached by initiating better health care programs, he said.

"Someone has to pay the taxes. Someone has to feed the state," Payne said. "The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce government spending, and that can best be done by reaching efficiency in health care.

"The Green Party advocates streamlining the whole health-care delivery system. Having a single-payer option removes 20 percent off the top of health care spending," Payne added.; 860-355-7322