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Republicans offer ‘year in review’ at Durham library

State Sen. Len Fasano and state representatives Vincent Candelora and Noreen Kokoruda, who each represent Durham at the state capital, gave a campaign-style overview of the recent Connecticut legislative session at a forum at the Durham Public Library Aug. 13.

The legislators began with a slide presentation, hammering on Gov, Malloy’s economic policies and Democrats in “the dome.” Fasano characterized the latest budget as the largest tax increase in state history. The legislators also criticized accounting in the Malloy budget. They criticized the removal of federal funds from the spending cap calculations and the shifting of dedicated funds to other purposes.

“They’re not serious about making any cuts,” said Kokoruda of the Democrats.

Kokoruda also criticized the addition of Keno gambling to the budget, noting that it was done at the last minute without public hearings.

The attacks, grim forecasts, and dire financial information gave the presentation the air of a campaign event from the party out of power. Fasano even referred to “one party rule” in the state capital.

The question and answer period started with a half-joke of a question - “Is there any good news?” — which provoked laughter from the small but largely sympathetic audience.

The legislators were able to come up with two examples of good news. Fasano replied that citizens were starting to see how bad the economy is. Kokoruda’s example of good news was that the no layoff agreement with state workers was set to expire so state workers could be laid off.

Roger Kleeman, of Durham, asked if state water testing could be resumed in Durham. Kleeman noted that areas in town have had problems with well water in the past, including the Super Fund site and the area around Brewster Elementary School. The legislators were not familiar with the issue but said they would look into it.

Rick Parmalee asked about more local control of a regional school budget. The discussion led to a failed bill that would require a regional school budget to pass in each town of the region, not just by a majority of all the voters in the region. Fasano said he would put the bill up for consideration next year.

Parmalee also asked about voting for Board of Education candidates on the regular election ballot instead of at town meetings. Durham First Selectman Laura Francis, who was in the audience, said that the issue could be revisited, but might require a referendum to change the process.

For local issues with follow up, residents gave their information to one of the four aides in attendance.

One resident voiced a theory about being out of power in Connecticut. “The inner cities are getting so much money for these benefits, they’re going to keep voting like this [for Democrats] because they’re getting the money,” he said. “Conservative votes just don’t count anymore because they’re getting diluted.”

Fasano later echoed the sentiment. “They want to take from small towns - the money - and bring it to the cities,” he said.

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