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Four State Senate Candidates Face Off

Candidates for the two state Senate seats gave different visions on how to get through a difficult economy as they met in a combo debate sponsored Thursday night by the New Canaan League of Women Voters.

Republican incumbents Sen. Toni Boucher of the 26th District mixed it up with Democratic challenger John Hartwell, and Sen. L. Scott Frantz of the 36th District tangled with Democratic candidate Nancy Barton.

Frantz said that economic improvement will take jobs, and the best way to attract jobs is to make it easier for employers by "rolling out the red carpet" and lowering taxes.

"There's no cushion left in the state of Connecticut. We need jobs and we need them yesterday," he said.

Barton, his challenger, said government should cut its spending. Among her ideas is to save on Medicaid costs by shifting some institutional care for long-term and end-of-life situations to home-based and community-based care.

"It is much more cost effective and much more humane for the people in question," she said. Though she supports funding for education and social services, Barton said the bureaucratic waste that has grown under Republican governors should be cut.

Boucher agreed with creating a better business climate. She also said the state could get employee concessions and consolidate services. "We've borrowed to the hilt. There's no room there," she said. "Where we didn't go is state concessions and consolidation."

Hartwell, Boucher's opponent, said it would take more than just cuts to turn things around. "We have to cut spending, there's no doubt there has to be spending cuts. But there's also probably going to be some borrowing for the short term and probably tax increases as well," he said.

The 26th Senate district represents New Canaan, Weston, Westport, Wilton, Bethel, Redding and Ridgefield. The 36th Senate District includes parts of Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford.

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