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136th House District / Steinberg a voice for energy, environment

Published 7:39 pm, Thursday, November 1, 2012
  • Jonathan Steinberg of Westport, Democratic State Rep. in the 136th District. Photo: Contributed Photo
    Jonathan Steinberg of Westport, Democratic State Rep. in the 136th District. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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I've had the honor to represent Westport in the state legislature, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished on your behalf during my first two years. I've had a hand in crafting important energy legislation, served on task forces examining issues critical to the state, and brought state funding back to the town and local businesses.

Four Westport businesses have received grants from the Small Business Express program in recent months, and I directly helped one company secure sufficient funding to achieve critical future growth and add in-state jobs.

Westport is rarely the recipient of much discretionary state funding. As a freshman legislator, I worked hard to obtain $500,000 for the Levitt Pavilion renovation -- funding we've sought for many years -- and $300,000 to repair the leaky roof at The Saugatuck Co-op Apartments, which is affordable senior housing.

Like many legislators, I've endeavored to develop areas of expertise, meeting with experts and doing research to become knowledgeable on energy and environmental issues. On the Energy & Technology Committee, I helped craft the language for the "Lead by Example" program which, in just over a year, has generated 41 energy-conservation projects in state buildings, estimated to save the state over $1.7 million annually. The new performance contracting language we wrote into the bill sets the stage to help towns and cities as well. Conservation is one of the pillars of the state's new energy policy, which will bring down energy costs and improve the business climate.

I've helped the town secure approval by the DOT to install a solar array on the Eastbound train station roof at the Saugatuck train station, which will both power the station house and potentially up to 20 electric-car-charging stations. I also helped Westport win one of the four coveted pilot slots for the new SolarizeCT program, which guarantees below-market energy rates for homeowners who install solar panels.

I've also leveraged my background in senior care to be an informed and progressive voice on the legislature's Aging Committee. I was the only legislator who participated in the Governor's "right-sizing" summit, seeking to reduce state spending while affording seniors the chance to stay in their communities for as long as possible, to age in place. Sooner or later, we will all need quality senior services, and I'm committed to making sure that Connecticut has a plan to meet these growing needs.

Looking forward, I intend to stay focused on improving the state's recovering economy, promoting the conditions for companies to create more quality jobs, and addressing the concerns of our area, particularly repairing and improving our aging transportation infrastructure. Fairfield County's highways and rail lines bear the brunt of regional traffic and must be state-funding priorities.

We also must work harder at making government more efficient, transparent and responsive. I ascribe to the Results Based Accountability methodology which holds programs accountable each year to show whether they've achieved their stated objectives -- based on clear metric measures. If they don't, the programs face budget review or potential outsourcing to third-parties. It's a better path to streamlining government than arbitrary, across-the-board budget cuts. It's hard work, but it's imperative that we find ways to manage state spending without an annual budget deficit crisis, yet still preserve the social compact and the quality of life which makes Connecticut a great place to live.

I'm a member of the legislature's Moderates Caucus because I believe that solutions are often achieved by those in the middle, rather than on either extreme. This philosophy has made advances like the bipartisan jobs bills possible and represents our best prospect for tackling the thorny issues still before us. And I have a good list of potential bills, some broad and some to address constituent problems, which I'm ready to introduce next session, given the chance.

Westport is a great place, but I admit I'm a little biased -- I grew up here! I chose to settle in Westport with my family and, for the past nine years, I've dedicated myself to helping make it an even better community through public service.

I ask you, the citizens of Westport, for the opportunity to continue serving your interests. I've been honored and proud to represent Westport and will always strive to justify your faith in me. Everyone should vote on Nov. 6 -- we have much at stake as a town, state and nation. I hope you will include me as one of those who will endeavor, on your behalf, to turn things around.