Marlborough, Connecticut 06447



State Legislators Visit Marlborough
Written by Sheri Dursin
Spectrum Writing Services

On Thursday evening, June 15, two State Legislators visited the Marlborough Business Association at their monthly meeting.  State Senator Mary Ann Handley and State Representative Pam Sawyer met with local businesses to listen, discuss and respond to their concerns for the future.

Before Handley and Sawyer spoke, MBA members were given the opportunity to express their concerns to these representatives of our State government.  It quickly became apparent that an overwhelming pattern of apprehension was shared by everyone.  The cost of taxes, energy, and gas are skyrocketing.  Small businesses are sacrificing a significant portion of their income to these costs.  In turn, local residents are also suffering from these price increases, and finding themselves with fewer discretionary funds to spend.  Tourism and consumerism are both down, in turn affecting the profits of our local businesses.  Business owners worry about their ability to “stay afloat” with the competition from big businesses, the rising costs of taxes and energy, and the loss of customers and tourists.  Almost everyone present echoed the necessity of adequate funding for the sewers in Marlborough as a critical element in moving Marlborough forward. 

Other concerns brought before Senator Handley and Representative Sawyer were the costs of health care and prescription medication, the overall wellness of our residents and their children, violence in Hartford, the rising cost of college education, and the way the budget surplus is being spent.

Senator Mary Ann Handley (D), is serving her fifth term representing the 4th Senatorial District, which includes Marlborough, Manchester, Glastonbury, and Bolton.  She began her remarks speaking about the “great unease in our society.”  She realizes that people are gravely concerned about the economy and how they will make ends meet.  Handley admitted that there are certain things over which we have no control.  “We can’t do a lot about Exxon… we can’t do anything about what’s going on all over the world.”  But she wanted to focus on what could be accomplished at the State level.  “We can talk about how the State can help small businesses.”

Handley acknowledged that taxes are high, and believes we need to commit ourselves to property tax reform.  Tax relief is not enough, she stated, as she talked about the possibility of shifting the burden to the State for education, roads, etc.  But she also cautioned that “it’s not an easy conversation to have.”  Connecticut has to either shift how we spend our money or raise some more tax money from other sources in order to reduce the burden on small towns.

“My promise is that we in the State must recognize the uneasiness,” Handley stated.  She believes serious conversations need to take place on the State level about how to assist towns.  Handley also believes that the State must work on a comprehensive energy bill, and she wants to see health care addressed in the next legislative session.  “We need to address this ourselves.  We can’t leave it to Washington.”

Pam Sawyer (R) is currently serving in her seventh term as State Representative for the 55th District which includes the towns of Andover, Bolton, Hebron, and Marlborough.  Sawyer echoed many of Handley’s sentiments about tax reform and the need for an energy bill.  “I believe that we should be reducing the taxes on electricity for small businesses.”  Sawyer expressed regret that an energy bill was not part of the last legislative session.  She also made some of the following points:

·    Small businesses (50 or fewer employees) are eligible to be part of MEHIP, the Municipal Employees Health Insurance Pool.  MEHIP was created by the Connecticut Legislature in 1996, so that the State could create a cost effective health care plan for municipalities.  This State Employee Health Plan is open to, but not mandatory for, municipal and small business employees.

·    The State Teacher Retirement Fund is $5 billion “in the hole.”  This year, it was fully funded out of the surplus, but we did not build it into the budget for years to come.

As for the Marlborough sewer project, both Handley and Sawyer indicated that sufficient money to fund the sewers is currently in a bonded bill.  Handley stated that the Legislature is not going to take up the bill because it is likely that Governor Rell will veto.  Sawyer added that Governor Rell wants to “look very carefully at the bonding package.”

Many thanks to John Spellman for hosting the meeting at the Marlborough Tavern and to Selectman Sharon Reiner for bringing the legislators to our meeting.

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