WESTPORT, Conn. – State representative candidates Gail Lavielle and Keith Rodgerson discussed keeping businesses in Connecticut and keeping taxes down in a recent debate in Westport.
Incumbent Republican Lavielle is facing Democratic challenger Rodgerson for the state House of Representative seat for District 143, which covers parts of Westport, Wilton and Norwalk. They met with other candidates in a debate hosted by the League of Women Voters of Westport.
“At this point it is not attractive for new businesses to come into Connecticut because of the cost structure for one, given the tax burden and other payroll costs that make structural overhead very difficult to control,” said Lavielle. “We’ve had some incentives and other things in place, but if we make our cities a destination for new businesses coming into Connecticut, by giving them some tax breaks and other ways to reduce their structural costs, we can keep that activity.”
“The state needs to do more when it comes to revolving brownfields funds, when it comes to covering finance gaps with regards to large developments on the water, when it comes to this whole state and its development patterns,” Rodgerson said. “We haven’t been able to come up with a coherent development strategy that can be supported by transportation.”
Lavielle said it is important that the state set goals and keep with them and that its regulations be friendly to businesses.
“More than 70 percent of our businesses are small businesses in Connecticut, with fewer than 20 people. They want predictability of regulations, predictability of tax policy, not changing every five minutes. Let’s set the goal, let’s set the bar and stay there,” Lavielle said.
Rodgerson said it’s important to look at what kind of businesses the state wants here and make sure that Connecticut is attracting businesses that will make people want to stay here. He said it is important to protect the towns’ heritage and look out for small business.
“We have to help our small businesses retool or we’re going to lose them. We need to see to it that we don’t lose our character, that we don’t lose our vibrancy, that we intervene. We intervene as a government to see to it that we meet the public’s need and our need for historic preservation, our need for small businesses to survive,” he said.
Lavielle also talked about the importance of renegotiating state employee fringe benefits as a way to cut costs. Rodgerson discussed the importance of the arts and how they can create vibrancy and a return on the government’s investment. Both also discussed the need to provide housing for young professionals and seniors.
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