EASTON, Conn. — Finding ways to fix what he called “the state’s budgetary woes" is one of the top priorities for Adam Dunsby, the newly elected Republican state representative for the 135th District.
“The state is in terrible financial shape. There is a $1.5 billion budget deficit for 2017-18. We have a roughly $18 billion budget despite having implemented major tax raises in 2011 to 2015," Dunsby said in an interview at his office at Easton Town Hall, where he serves as first selectman.
“This is a great honor,” Dunsby said of serving the dual roles in Town Hall and the State House. “I wanted to deepen my public service and the opportunity arose to run for the State House."
In his state role, he said Connecticut needs to focus on its spending. “The state has developed a very free-spending culture. If we doubled our revenue next year, we’d be in a deficit the year after that.”
To control spending, he said everything needs to be on the table, including employee costs, municipal aid and outsourcing some state functions to nonprofits.
“Ideally, we would work to modify some of the binding arbitration laws but Connecticut is a very labor-friendly state and that’s probably very difficult to do,” he said.
He has introduced legislation that would allow municipalities to publish legal notices on town websites instead of having to publish them in newspapers.
In addition, he has co-sponsored legislation that would require the state "to let the municipalities know what their municipal aid would be in March so they would have it for budget purposes," he said.
He has also co-sponsored a bill to use previously authorized bonds to make improvements on Metro-North's Danbury train branch.
“Electrification is the way to go, but there are probably simpler and less expensive things to do sooner rather than later,” he said of the needed fixes.
On the tax side, he said he would like to eliminate the state's estate tax. “Most states don’t have one and people are leaving. Having it in place is probably costing the state money," Dunsby said.
“If we can’t eliminate it, there are proposals in to raise the threshold to near the federal government threshold — and I would support that."
He said he also favors the complete elimination of state taxes on Social Security income, “though I recognize that this would require additional spending cuts.”
Closer to home, he praised work to replace two bridges on South Park Avenue and a plan to build a school bus depot behind Samuel Staples Elementary School.
“Easton and Redding use the same buses. The buses are currently parked in Bethel, but we were informed by Dattco that we are no longer able to park there," said Dunsby, a father of four children.
The town is also looking to build restrooms on the Moorehouse fields. “Those fields are in our recreation center,” he said.
Constituents can meet with Dunsby along with state. Rep. Gail Lavielle and state Sen. Toni Boucher at a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the G& B Cultural Center, 49 New St., Georgetown.
Anyone is welcome to attend to discuss issues and ask questions. For more information, call 800-842-1423.