Republican Sen. Toni Boucher and John Hartwell , her Democratic opponent in the 26th District race, staked out dramatically different positions Wednesday for reducing the $3.3 billion state deficit. Boucher called for government cutbacks while Hartwell said such a move would result in loss of large numbers of jobs and more economic pain. The district takes in Westport, Weston, Wilton and New Canaan.
"Massive spending and the resulting debt are jeopardizing the American dream," Boucher said in a debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Westport . "I'm looking for state government policy makers to work together. Hartford must show cutbacks and must consolidate state agencies."
Hartwell agreed legislators must work together but cutbacks are not the best option.
"Cutting spending, wage revenue and borrowing more money -- none of this is what we want. They're all painful," he said. "Cutting the $3.3 billion budget could end up costing us 50,000 jobs lost as a direct result. That would increase unemployment by 50 percent."
The candidates agreed on the importance of environmental protection. Both were asked whether they would support projects like Broadwater, a proposal for a floating natural gas facility on Long Island Sound.
"As far as I know, Broadwater is dead. But, if it rears its ugly head, I'll be 100 percent opposed," said Hartwell. "We have to protect Long Island Sound: It's an environmental disaster waiting to happen."
Boucher said, "Protecting the environment has been a priority of mine since I won office. I've spent hundreds of hours on it. It's not just about talking, it's about working hard to get serious results."
The debate will be televised on Channel 79 every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and will be available on the town's website until Election Day.
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