House: 37th District

CANDIDATES

Elbert M. Burr, Republican

Occupation

Retired

Town

Salem

Incumbent

No

Contact

Phone: 860-887-9510

Email: elbyburr@comcast.net

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

77

Family

Married, no children

Education

B S Business

Civic Involvement

Chairman, Salem school building committee; Treasurer, Salem Lions Club; Trustee Salem Land Trust; Past member Weston Kiwanis club; Past Fire Comm., Easton, CT; Barlow School Building Committee, Redding, CT; Exchange Club, Easton, CT; Chairman F.I. Harbor Committee; Member Niantic River Watershed Clean Water Program.

Elected/appointed offices held

Selectman, Salem; Past Member Salem P & Z; Past member Weston, CT, P & Z (Chairman for 8 years)

Other government service

9 years service in the U S Army Reserve as a First Lt.

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

Years of experience in business and public volunteer service. Good leadership qualities, a clear sense of right and wrong. A very good handle on current state issues. Willingness to work hard for programs that will strengthen the state's weaknesses. Some of the items I would like to address are the need for jobs, tax reform to encourage business to come to the state. health care costs, school mandates and special education costs and mental health programs.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

I would switch to some type of 401(K) plan. The state cannot continue to try to fund a defined benefit pension plan, as the private sector learned years ago.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

I would want to see more focus on mental health issues. As a pistol permit holder, the current paper work has made owning a weapon much more difficult to obtain, but I would need to read the current regulations thoroughly to ascertain what changes I would like to see made, if any.

Ed Jutila, Democrat

Endorsed - View The Day Editorial Endorsement

Occupation

Attorney

Town

Niantic

Incumbent

Yes

Contact

Phone: 860-739-7730

Email: Jutilacampaign@gmail.com

Age (as of Nov. 4, 2014)

59

Family

Married to Donna Jutila Three adult children Six grandchildren

Education

University of Connecticut - BA Psychology University of Connecticut School of Law- JD

Civic Involvement

Niantic Fire Department Deputy Town Meeting Moderator 1987-95

Elected/appointed offices held

State Representative 2005-present East Lyme Board of Selectmen 1995-97 Charter Revision Commission 1988-89 Democratic Town Chairman 1989-91

Other government service

Legislative Assistant to State Senate Majority Leader 1980-82

What makes you the best candidate for this office?

When I first became a candidate for the state legislature in 2004, I cited my extensive background in both government and business, and a long history of community service. That background included small downtown business owner and corporate attorney. Government and community service included volunteer firefighter, selectman, deputy town meeting moderator and charter revision commission member. Now seeking a sixth term in the General Assembly, I can add ten years of solid results and significant accomplishments as a seasoned legislator. During those ten years, I have served as a member and vice chair on a number of committees. Currently, I chair the Government Administration and Elections Committee. Some of my more significant accomplishments include leadership roles in obtaining improved commuter rail service on the Shore Line East line, and highway safety improvements on I-95. I have also been the strongest voice for completing Route 11, a project that at least is moving forward again, if not by leaps and bounds.

Other examples include:

  • Opposition to burdensome insurance company mandates on homeowners to install costly hurricane shutters

  • Preservation of open space, including most recently a $100,000 grant to acquire more land in Oswegatchie Hills

  • Reduction, elimination or prevention of burdensome taxes on businesses that impede growth and discourage job creation

During this past term, as chairman of the GAE Committee, I had the privilege of introducing on the floor of the House, and leading the debate on, the proposed constitutional amendment, which, if approved by the voters, will permit the legislature to consider new early voting initiatives.

The bottom line: I bring valuable experience to the job of state representative that is key to the solid results I have been able to achieve for my constituents in East Lyme and Salem.

Estimates of the state's unfunded pension and benefit liability for retired teachers and state employees are in the tens of billions of dollars. Should the state continue offering a defined benefit pension plan or switch to some type of 401(k) defined contribution plan, which has become standard in the private sector? Please explain why you do or do not support such a change.

Back in the 1990's, the state began reducing payments toward state employee debt obligations by approximately $100 million per year. If this poor example of fiscal policy had continued indefinitely, it would have resulted in a requirement to make a $4.5 billion balloon payment to the State Employees Retirement System in 2032. Meanwhile, the Teachers Retirement System had been similarly chronically underfunded. This resulted in accumulated combined unfunded debt for the two pension systems reaching $21 billion by 2011, representing gross underfunding for both state employee and teacher pensions. Experts generally consider pensions to be prudently funded at 80%. In 2008, the legislature, working together with the State Treasurer, shored up the Teachers Retirement System by issuing $2.3 billion in pension bonds. Bond covenants requiring full funding guaranteed stability going forward. By 2012, Governor Malloy took steps to restructure state employee pensions by increasing annual contributions and instituting a series of reforms. These initiatives are projected to save nearly $6 billion over 20 years, eliminate the balloon payment in 2032 and fully fund those pensions by that date. Ultimately, the cost of providing defined benefit pensions is anticipated to be comparable to the costs currently incurred by private sector companies to provide 401K type plans, or roughly 7% of payroll. The legislature should provide strong oversight on the health of state pension plans in the short term, making adjustments as necessary to remain on the path to full funding. In the meantime, we are just beginning to see the first wave of retirees in the private sector relying, at least partially, on 401K plans. We should monitor their experience closely and keep an open mind as to whether we should rely more heavily on those plans to provide retirement income to public sector retirees in the future.

If a bill came before the General Assembly to repeal or amend the gun control law passed last session after the school shootings in Newtown, would you vote to amend the law? If so, what would you want to change?

The gun control legislation adopted during the 2013 legislative session is currently being challenged in the courts on constitutional grounds. The Federal District Court has upheld the constitutionality of the legislation. That decision is now being appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Should the Court of Appeals hold any provisions within the legislation to be unconstitutional it would, of course, be the duty of the legislature to amend the law, consistent with the Court's ruling. Until such time that the Court has rendered its decision, however, the only amendments to the law that the legislature should consider would be in the areas of school safety and mental health, both of which could be further strengthened.

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