Steinberg ready to make unpopular decisions
Published 2:29 pm, Thursday, December 1, 2016
WESTPORT — While the state faces yet another uphill battle against a crushing debt, freshly re-elected state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-136, understands significant cuts need to be made.
Recent numbers released by the state show Connecticut with over a $1 billion General Fund deficit for the next fiscal year, while Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced on Nov. 15 he is considering tax alterations to make the state more amenable to businesses, according to the Associated Press.
Steinberg said he supports the governor’s idea of reducing business taxes “in theory,” but “in a vacuum.” He said the proposal is attractive, but it begs the question of how Malloy plans to make up the lost revenue from cutting such a tax. The answer, Steinberg believes, is to eliminate programs such as those dealing with seniors and those with developmental disabilities because the “cost of providing them adequate care may run six figures.
“And this is exactly what we’re up against at this point. We’ve run out of things that are easy to cut or perhaps nice to haves,” he said. Potential eliminations include everything from third party private nonprofits to the state agencies and the programs of the state agencies, Steinberg said.
He said he is prepared to make unpopular decisions to get the state out of its steep financial turmoil, adding it is better to cut entire programs, rather than to reduce funding across the board by 10 percent.
“So when you talk about being a bad guy, you know, maybe we’re going to have to have a bad guys club, because somebody’s going to have to sift through this, in conjunction with the administration and say, ‘This is a good program, but it’s nice to have, not need to have’,” Steinberg said. “And maybe it has to take a sabbatical for three, five, seven years while we get our act together.”
About to start his fourth term in the state House as the longest-tenured Democrat to represent the 136th District, Steinberg is counting on his colleagues to understand the gravity of the state’s fiscal status and hoping they join him in making “some really hard choices” that could result in their not getting re-elected.
The 2017 state General Assembly Regular Session begins Jan. 4.