Race for the 125th district: Tom O’Dea
Although being the 125th Connecticut House District representative for Wilton and New Canaan for the last six years has been frustrating at times, Republican Tom O’Dea said, it’s also been “the most rewarding … job of [his] career” — and that’s one reason why he’s decided to run for re-election.
The other reason the New Canaan resident is running is because there’s more work to be done.
“I happily have 20,000 bosses [constituents] that I am truly honored and humbled to represent, but getting things done in Hartford is not always logical or a straight path,” said O’Dea.
Although the Connecticut General Assembly has made “excellent strides in correcting some past mistakes,” he said, “much more needs to be done.”
“I have been successful in earning a reputation as a hardworking bipartisan legislator who makes the state’s long-term interests a priority,” said O’Dea, who became a deputy leader at-large, as well as the first House deputy leader from the 125th District, this past legislative season.
As a deputy leader, O’Dea said, he is “better able to represent and promote the priorities of New Canaan and Wilton.”
If re-elected, O’Dea said his top three priorities would be to grow private-sector jobs, improve transportation, and reduce state spending and taxes.
When it comes to private-sector job growth, O’Dea said he would fight to “reduce government regulation on businesses by having each agency review all regulations and eliminate those that are not necessary,” as well as “streamline occupational and professional licensing and allow students under 21 to work for less than minimum wage.”
O’Dea said he would also push for the reformation of Connecticut’s unemployment and workers’ compensation laws “so that employers can add employees without exorbitant expense.”
Once the constitutional lock box is “voted on and approved this November,” O’Dea said, “we will need to make sure the funding sources are also kept in place for the transportation fund.”
The transportation funds need to be prioritized to “help the largest groups of people possible,” said O’Dea, adding that “instead of funding a busway between New Britain and Hartford for $700 million,” the state should have funded public transit initiatives in high-use areas, such as “along I-91 in Hartford and I-95 in Fairfield County.”
O’Dea said he would also create legislation that encourages public-private partnerships (PPPs).
“Instead of spending billions on targeted corporate incentives, use that money to guarantee investments in PPPs,” he said.
“An option would be a PPP to build an additional tolled lane in each direction of I-95 that will be built privately in less time and at no cost to taxpayers.”
O’Dea said the state could also explore a PPP with The Boring Company, a infrastructure and tunnel construction company that is “willing to build a tunnel from New Haven to Manhattan at no cost to taxpayers.” If such a tunnel were built, O’Dea said, “the trip from Stamford to Manhattan would take about 12 minutes.”
Spending and taxes
O’Dea said he has several proposals to reduce state spending and taxes — one of which is a 20% budget cut “across the board for each agency,” except the Judiciary and Department of Developmental Services (DDS). These two entities, he said, would not be cut “as long as overtime is reduced by 50%, a plan for closing Southbury [Training School] within four years is implemented, and spending on day employment for the intellectually disabled population increases, along with spending on private nonprofits and group homes …” According to O’Dea, a 20% cut across agencies could save approximately $2 billion a year.
Another way in which he would work to reduce spending and taxes, O’Dea said, is by proposing legislation to eliminate:
- The Citizens Election Program, resulting in an estimated $60 million in savings; and
- The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, and instead “leave it to the EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] like many other states,” an estimated $7 million in savings.
O’Dea said he would also “impress upon the next governor to negotiate [a number of] concessions with the public unions in exchange for putting all the savings into unfunded pensions,” including, but not limited to:
- Cutting the number of deputy commissioners — which have average salaries of more than $120,000 to $2 million a year — down to one per agency.
- Putting a moratorium on pension cost-of-living adjustments until the funded ratio hits 80%.
- Eliminating overtime and mileage reimbursement from pension calculation and cap pensions at $100,000 a year.
- Increasing employee contributions from 5% to 8%.
- Implementing a wage freeze after 2021.
- Removing pension and healthcare benefits from collective bargaining.
To help “stabilize the real estate market” and make Connecticut “one of the best states in which to retire,” O’Dea said, “we should also eliminate the estate tax, gift tax, and tax on social security by 2022 … along with the tax on pensions.”
O’Dea said the state should also “phase in a reduction of all Connecticut tax rates to the United States average, or lower,” and allow municipalities to “enact up to a 0.5% sales tax and collect revenue, as long as property taxes are reduced by the amount raised by said increase,” and “reduce Board of Education budgets if they are ranked in the top 40%, as opposed to the current limit to the municipalities in the top 10%.”
Additionally, O’Dea said, 20% of lottery proceeds should be put into unfunded pensions “by cutting administrative costs and reducing monies to libraries and the Department of Corrections.”
O’Dea said people should vote for him because “experience matters.”
“I have taken my bipartisan work ethic that I demonstrated on the New Canaan Town Council for seven years to Hartford, and have improved the quality of life for people throughout the state by promoting legislation that helps those most in need, while at the same time reining in spending and preventing additional taxes that were proposed by the majority and Gov. Malloy,” said O’Dea.
“I believe my record proves that I have successfully improved things for all of the residents in the 125th District. That said, there is a lot more to do, and I am the most qualified person to continue the progress made over the last few years.”
O’Dea said people should vote for his opponent if they believe “the state has been well run for the last 38 of 40 years under Democratic control in the legislature, [their] house is overvalued; and [they’re] under-taxed.”
But, he said, “if you believe getting the first bipartisan budget with no pork that made essential structural changes was a good start, please give me another two years.”