38th District candidates share views with voters

House 38th District candidates Tony Siragusa, the Republican challenger, and incumbent Democrat Betsy Ritter share a light moment during a forum hosted by The Day at the Waterford Public Library Tuesday.
House 38th District candidates Tony Siragusa, the Republican challenger, and incumbent Democrat Betsy Ritter share a light moment during a forum hosted by The Day at the Waterford Public Library Tuesday. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Waterford - The two candidates vying for the 38th House District seat met Tuesday in a public forum at the Waterford Public Library to discuss the issues most important to their potential constituents.

The two candidates have met before. In 2010, Republican Tony Siragusa lost to incumbent Democrat Betsy Ritter, who is now seeking a fifth term in the 38th District, which encompasses Waterford and southwestern Montville.

Questions Tuesday centered around early voting, supporting laws that would require an ID to vote, whether the state legislature and the governor have done enough in implementing Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, and whether a 2 percent cut across all state agencies would be an effective way to balance the state's budget.

Ritter said that Connecticut hasn't had instances of voter fraud that would call for a change to the current law, which is lenient in the need to present an ID before voting. While she said that the early voting is a "positive" opportunity for Connecticut residents, Siragusa disagreed.

"I don't necessarily believe early voting does anything, but it's nice to have one day where everybody does it at the same time," he said. "Some of the candidates haven't even given all their spiels and people are already voting. I would think you would want to hear what they have to say completely before voting for them."

When it comes to the state's promise to convert to GAAP, Ritter expressed frustrations over how long it has taken the state to fully shift to those principles.

"Do I think we've done enough?" Ritter asked. "We tried to do a little more and had to scale it back, but we've paved the way to get there. On Jan. 1, 2013, we will be taking another major step towards utilizing GAAP."

She said that over time, the state has realized the "wisdom" of converting to a full GAAP accounting system and that significant cash-flow problems have been created because the state doesn't use "true GAAP."

However, Siragusa said that he would like the state to follow through on its promise to adopt GAAP and blamed the lack of follow-through on the state's budget problems.

"They promised it to us and we didn't get it. It's easier to work on your budget when you have it," he said. "I see it as slipping on doing the job right. We're not fiscally responsible. The state has been working at it for 20 years to get us this screwed up."

A former 29-year employee of the state Department of Transportation, Siragusa said he does receive a retirement pension but would propose a 2 percent cut to all agencies except state police and correction facilities.

"Some agencies may not be able to do it, but if they're told to try to do it by the governor and can't come up with good reasons as to why they can't do it, they'd be in trouble in my book," he said.

Ritter disagreed.

"Across the board, budget cuts with certain areas exempted might not produce a budget that is in any way related to results," she said. "You have to be flexible in how to find 2 percent and not find it from just cuts across the board."

j.hanckel@theday.com

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