Boucher ready for another round in 26th

Ask Republican State Sen. Toni Boucher what her top issues are for the 26th Senatorial District and she can tell you without blinking an eye: the economy, jobs and the tax affordability of the state, preserving the funds for the transportation system and keeping people riding the rails, and education.

“We need to put our efforts into education — that will solve the income problem. We are able to live in Connecticut because of our educational attainment,” said Boucher, who has represented the 26th District since 2008, after having served as the state representative from the 143rd Assembly District for 12 years.

The 26th Senatorial District includes the communities of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Boucher, who lives in Wilton, faces a challenge from Westport resident Carolanne Curry, a past opponent who has quite a lot of experience in government herself.

Boucher’s experience includes leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. In the state Senate, Boucher serves as a chief deputy minority leader. She is the Senate ranking member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, Education Committee and Judiciary Committee. She also serves as a member of the General Assembly’s Finance, Revenue & Bonding Committee.

As a member of the finance committee, Boucher is working to resolve the state’s existing fiscal problems and plan for the future in a bipartisan manner. She believes Connecticut must recreate an environment where businesses can grow and families can prosper. Boucher, who served on the Appropriations Committee as a state representative, said she is now on the front line of efforts to balance the state’s growing budget deficit while holding the line on taxes, reducing government spending, saving businesses, and growing jobs.

She calls on her experience in the business world when working with her legislative colleagues on state government fiscal issues. She holds a master’s degree in business administration from UConn Business School, is the founder and former owner of a small business and is a former member of corporate management for two Fortune 50 firms. Boucher also co-founded and served on the board of directors of a marketing design agency in San Diego, which specializes in clients working in biogenetic, aerospace and leading-edge computer applications. She is a recipient of the Southwest Area (CT) Commerce and Industry Association’s Community Leader Award.

“Being a voice for the small business sector is important to me — that’s why it was interesting I was endorsed by the CBIA. I really understand and support the business sector,” she said.

Boucher faces the challenge with a look at her achievements, for example, in the Danbury branch rail line. She said she assumed a leadership role on the Transportation Committee at a time when the state and nation is reaffirming its commitment to mass transportation. While serving as a member of the Transportation Committee as a state representative, she said, she worked to protect and improve the Danbury branch line and helped lead the way on traffic relief initiatives for Southwestern Connecticut, especially with respect to rail service.

Today, she said, she continues to work to modernize commuter rail lines by keeping public policy focused on parking, train station enhancements and more frequent, faster rail service. She was successful in securing funds to computerize the Norwalk-to-Danbury branch line signal systems after a decade-long battle to not only save the line from a permanent shutdown but also bring about the first upgrade in decades. She said she played a key role in the state’s purchase of new rail cars and in securing much-needed improvements, including new parking and plumbing, at area rail stations. She is also credited with helping to stop plans to build a Super 7 Highway, instead championing successful efforts to widen the road, build a greenway, and increase access for bikes and pedestrians.

On education, Boucher is the ranking member of the Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, and helps to oversee legislation relating to the state Department of Education and local and regional school boards. She previously served as a member of the Higher Education Committee, overseeing Connecticut public universities and community colleges and state libraries, museums and historical associations. Boucher also served as ranking member of the Select Committee on Children, working on legislation dealing with children’s issues. Boucher has also been appointed to the Planning Commission for Higher Education, the Committee to Review School Construction Regulations and Priority Listings for School Construction Projects, and the CT Allied Health Workforce Policy Board.

Boucher became known in the legislature as an outspoken advocate for education at all levels when she was a state representative. She authored and helped pass legislation to reduce the mandatory age at which a child must enroll in school from 7 to 5, reformed bilingual education, and helped institute the Connecticut College Trust Fund to help parents save for their children’s college education. She successfully worked for legislation to promote early reading success, to provide preschool education programs for disadvantaged children and to enhance educational accountability.

But the economy is her No. 1 issue. In her promotional flyer, she said the “one-party rule in Hartford” keeps pouring on the tax increases, including two of the largest tax hikes in state history: the retroactive income tax increase in 2015 and the corporate tax increase of 2016.

“And there have been so many more, including some you may not even be aware of … the car wash tax, parking tax, tap water tax, wedding tax, surgery tax, new tax on websites, property tax credit reduction,” Boucher said in her flyer. “And more are on the books for next year, including the extension of a corporate tax surcharge that was supposed to be temporary. They’re even studying the possibility of a new tax on every mile you drive. People have had it! It’s time to say enough is enough.”

Her idea is to restore confidence in Connecticut by building financial stability and growth.

“Our ‘Roadmap to a Better Connecticut’ is a plan that will correct the problems that are currently impeding growth and put our state on a path back to prosperity,” she said. “We know this plan will fix Connecticut’s problems,” she added, pointing out that the plan includes lower taxes on income, businesses, cars, pensions, real estate, and inheritance and stops the administration’s proposed plan for a mileage tax and highway tolls.