Can our would-be governors answer three critical questions?

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Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates deserve our thanks for seeking to become Connecticut’s next governor. For the benefit of all of Connecticut’s citizens, we hope that whomever among them is elected on Nov. 6 will be successful.

We’d like to pose three critical questions to the candidates, inviting their public response. State residents will be directly affected by your actions, and they deserve to understand what you would do as our governor. We encourage you to be specific and succinct in your answers.

Question No. 1: You have differing perspectives on the best approach to address Connecticut’s financial issues, but there’s no disagreement that these issues pose a serious impediment to the state’s future. As governor, what actions would you take to address the state’s financial and fiscal issues?

As newly elected governor, you can expect to have a mandate to follow through on the policy proposals made during the campaign. What proposals would you advance to the legislature for action? What, if any, reform of state services would you propose? Of the recommendations made by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, which do you believe should be implemented, and how would you go about doing so?

Formed last fall as part of the bipartisan budget deliberations, that panel was made up of leaders from business, education and government. Its charge was to review the state’s fiscal situation and make recommendations to set Connecticut on a path to prosperity. In March it delivered recommendations to Gov. Dannel Malloy and legislative leaders.

As governor, you would have a leading role in determining the disposition of these recommendations, so it’s important for voters to know your position on the commission’s recommendations before they go to the polls in November.

Question No. 2: What role should regional Councils of Governments (COGs) play in helping address these issues? Do you favor providing these councils with the ability to raise funds directly through regional taxation?

Connecticut is divided by statute into nine COGs, designed to function as regional planning agencies for their member cities and towns and to provide services to member municipalities and, in some cases, statewide services. Availing themselves of COG offerings often can allow member (and subscribing non-member) communities to save costs or provide better services to residents.

In many other states, COGs can institute a voter-approved time-limited regional tax to fund projects – for example, a transit project or regional communications system.

So how do you see the role of COGs in addressing the larger issue of the state’s fiscal issues? Also, do you favor the approach of raising funds through limited, voter-approved regional taxation?

No. 3 – Finally, we ask you all a favor. Especially at the national level, we have seen recent campaigns concentrate on denigrating an opponent as opposed to spelling out what a candidate would do if elected. We believe this does both candidates and the voters a disservice: candidates because they demean themselves and voters because they are left with a bitter feeling that none of the campaigners is worthy of support.

Please avoid this by aiming your campaigns to outline as specifically as possible what you would do if elected, not the bad things you insinuate your opponents would do. The three of us are current or former municipal elected officials, so we know that concentrating a campaign on the issues provides you a mandate. It gives citizens the confidence to understand what they can expect you to do in exchange for their vote.

Our state’s voters deserve a frank discussion of the issues, not personalities. We ask your help in seeing that this campaign meets that standard.

Stewart (Chip) Beckett III is Minority Leader of the Glastonbury Town Council, Jon Colman is a former member of the Bloomfield Town Council, and Dave Kilbon is former First Selectman of East Granby and currently chairs the East Granby Board of Finance.


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