Miner and Lawson face off again for the 30th senate district
Voters in the 30th state Senate District will see two familiar names on the ballot with incumbent Republican Craig Miner facing off against Democrat David Lawson.
Miner, 62, of Litchfield, just finished his first term in the state Senate, though he previously served eight terms as the state representative for the 66th District. He said he’s running again so that he can continue to improve on the state’s fiscal problems.
Lawson, 60, of New Milford, has served on the New Milford school board since 2003. He said he’s running because the state’s priorities need to be restructured, including more of an emphasis on education.
“Our priorities are skewed,” Lawson said. “We need to take a more holistic approach.”
The 30th District includes New Milford, Brookfield, Kent, Canaan, Cornwall, Goshen, Litchfield, Morris, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Torrington, Warren and Winchester.
Miner, who served on the appropriations committee sees consolidation and privatization as the key ways to cut state spending. He said certain state programs and efforts are duplicated and should be reviewed so that it can become more efficient.
An example is how people get government assistance or state funded health care through various departments and this could be streamlined into one entry point. While this would translate to fewer employees, he said the reductions would most likely be done with attrition.
He sees concession stands at state parks and registration through car dealers as ways to privatize certain government services and create revenue.
Lawson said private partnerships can be created, especially in health care, but the state needs to be careful because it means less control over that service.
He said they need short-term solutions like combining purchasing with various departments to save money and be more efficient, coupled with long-term solutions of expanding technical and vocational opportunities to attract people and businesses to the state to solve the budget problem.
Both said they need to do things to encourage young people who grew up and went to school in Connecticut to stay.
Miner said a way to keep young people in the state is to analyze the gift tax so that young people can use more of what’s given to them by their parents to buy real estate or pay off their student loans.
Lawson suggested forgiving the debt of students who went to a state college after they remain in Connecticut for five to seven years after graduating.
He said the theory is that they’ll have set roots down by that point and have been paying taxes. He said this worked with the GI Bill after World War II and boosted the economy in the 1950s and 1960s.
Miner also said the state needs to work more with schools and businesses so that students are getting the training they need to be better candidates when they enter the workforce and get well-paying jobs in Connecticut. The state needs to also make it easier to locate a business in Connecticut by streamlining the process and not increase taxes once the business is here.
Miner said the northwest corner is especially challenged because there isn’t public transportation to ge to these jobs. He said there also isn’t always housing near these jobs, whether its affordable housing to purchase or it might be too difficult to rent because they’re paying off student loans and don’t have a job yet.
“It’s hard to grow an economy and grow as a community if people don’t see a future here,”
Lawson agreed affordable housing is important and needed to look at existing housing, whether more needs to be built and possibly increasing the requirement of affordable units built using the state affordable housing statute, 8-30g.
He suggested amenities like a bike trail throughout western Connecticut and restore passenger rail on the Housatonic Railroad will encourage ecotourism and agribusiness to come to the northwest corner.
He said they also need to focus on bringing green energy jobs to the state and improving training for that in the schools.
Both said the state needs to look at solar energy but needs to be careful about where to put it.
A controversial project is being built on Candlewood Mountain in New Milford that would clear-cut about 60 acres of forest. Lawson said solar panels should go on landfills and roofs. Lawson said they should also look at state right of ways along highways and railroads.