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Deb Heinrich Talks About Job Growth, Tax Reform, Government Efficiency

An interview with Deb Heinrich's challenger linked to the right.

Voter Resource Guide

State Representative Deb Heinrich, the Democratic incumbent in the 101st District, is seeking re-election to a fourth, two-year term. In this district, she is well-known for her door-to-door campaigning.

"It is the best way to find out what is on people's minds," she said. This year "people are nervous, concerned about our economy, and anxious to know how we can fix it."

To these voters and others, Heinrich talks about what she has done in the legislature during the past six years and what she will do if re-elected. She faces a challenge from Republican Scott Scherban, an attorney from Madison. The 101st District includes all of Madison and a portion of Guilford.

"Every candidate talks about fostering job growth. I have details and I have a record I'm proud of," Heinrich said.

She has introduced legislation to revise the state's business entity tax, "an important issue for small businesses," and supported legislation "that would allow small businesses to participate in the state healthcare system. The legislation passed, but was vetoed by the governor. I would love to revisit it."

She points to her support of a bipartisan jobs bill in this past legislative session. It included hiring incentives for businesses, partnering with community colleges to retrain workers, providing financial and technical assistance to start-ups, and making small business loans available, among other initiatives.

"And there is more that I will do," she said, "because small business is the backbone of Connecticut's economy. It is what moves us forward."

Heinrich is aware of the state's reputation as one not friendly to business.

"There is so much more we can do," she said, and lists such recommendations as investing in alternative energy technologies, establishing regional economic development districts, changing the state's focus toward better planning, and streamlining permitting processes.

Throughout her years in the state legislature, "advocacy for small towns and property tax reform have always been my focus." Heinrich represents towns that receive fewer state dollars, particularly in education funding, than some other municipalities in the state. It is a concern she said she understands.

"When I came into office, this problem had been building for many years. Madison saw a 44 percent reduction in funding in the years preceding me. Guilford's numbers were similar. I've worked hard to turn that around and...We have had historic increases," she said, noting that this includes revised formulas for education cost sharing dollars and "dramatically increased special education funding."

She added, "I have just been appointed to the State Board of Education Ad Hoc Committee on Education Funding and the State Special Education Advisory Council and I'll use these platforms to advocate for education funding reform."

In the legislature, Heinrich has served as vice chair of the Appropriations Committee.

"When I first got there, I saw the budget was a mess and one of my first priorities was to fight for better accountability and transparency. I worked with other legislators to create a results-based accountability task force and we have seen some success in this area. The state has very limited long-term planning capability and we need to improve that. With a strong accountability model, we can root out inefficiencies."

She is also concerned with the state's unfunded liabilities and said she will continue to sponsor legislation to address this looming budget issue.

With the state facing another budget deficit, Heinrich said the legislature will need to "focus on the basics...maintain a safety net for those who need it, address public safety and education...but we cannot balance the budget by shifting the burden to our cities and towns. Our focus has to remain on creating a sustainable economy."

During her years in office, Heinrich has served on the Smart Growth Task Force and continues to serve on the Municipal Options for Regional Efficiencies Commission. She has received awards from both the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Council of Small Towns for her work on behalf of small towns. She has also been recognized by the National Conference of State Legislatures for her work as a founding member of the Results Based Accountability Legislative Task Force.

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