WESTPORT, Conn. – State Senate candidate Tony Hwang and Kim Fawcett addressed government spending and education issues in a recent debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Westport.
Republican Hwang and Democrat Fawcett are both seeking to replace outgoing Republican John McKinney as the state senator for District 28, which covers Westport, Weston, Easton, Fairfield and Newtown. Fawcett and Hwang both currently serve in the State House Representatives for Districts 133 and 134, respectively.
“We as a state have not done a good job in generating jobs and creating a vibrant and growing economy. It put such tremendous pressure on our taxpayers,” Hwang said. He said that the state has borrowed too much and increased its spending instead of cutting back and reducing taxes.
“We need to recognize, in a struggling economy, in a struggling revenue situation, we have to function as households do. Households sit down at the dinner table and they talk about reductions and sacrifices they need to make,” he said.
“I would like to see Connecticut stop and, before the next budget process, take another look at how we prioritize spending before we budget,” Fawcett said. She said it is important that the state legislature identify its priorities and stick with them. “That means that programs that don’t fulfill the critical mission of government don’t necessarily get funded every year, and especially don’t get funded when we are having budget crunches or need to reduce spending.”
Hwang said he would like to focus on where the state is duplicating services. He said that many communities have strong non-profit organizations that deliver the same services for half the prices. While he is not in favor of total privatization, he would like to see where the state can utilize these organizations to reduce costs.
Fawcett said that the state also needs to focus on results-based accountability. Line items in the state budget should have measurements put in place to evaluate how effective they are, she said, so that state legislators can know if departments are achieving their goals and justifying their expenses.
Both candidates took issue with the implementation of Common Core in schools, and whether it is achieving its goals of setting standards for education.
“The Common Core roll out has not been at all what any of us expected. It has, as far as we can tell, completely age-inappropriate curriculum in some grades and the flexibility that we were promised is not in place,” Fawcett said.
“A top-down approach does not account for the unique characteristics, the unique challenges and initiatives of each child, each community, that’s so different. The one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t work,” Hwang said.
The candidates also discussed transportation, and the need to invest in infrastructure in order to improve transportation in the state and grow the economy.
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