The last few weeks, I have been meeting with people throughout the 26th State Senate District to talk about the lack of a state budget and the financial situation facing Connecticut. I enjoy talking to my constituents about these issues, but mostly at these events, I listen. Listening is one of the most important aspects of my role as an elected official. This is what I am hearing. Families, seniors, young people, and businesses are struggling. Connecticut is the only state in New England with a negative GDP, high unemployment, and lagging job growth. We regained only about 70% of jobs lost during the recession, while Massachusetts regained 260% of its jobs. This does not include the jobs GE brought from Connecticut. Life is unaffordable in Connecticut. Residents and businesses are taxed beyond tolerance, causing them to move out of state in droves. Double-digit unemployment in our cities means few jobs for young people and no job security for those who are employed. With diminishing disposable income, people cannot buy houses, goods, or services. Unfortunately, Democrats and the unions don\u2019t recognize the distress that years of tax-and-spend policies inflicted upon the state. They\u2019re looking for more money! Last month, Democrats in the House proposed increasing the sales tax. Last week, state employee unions proposed a 19% tax on income earned from managed investments! In April, the Hartford Courant called this outrageous, job-killing idea \u201ca danger, not a benefit, to the state's financial future.\u201d Union leadership suggested the tax when announcing approval of a concession deal for wage freezes and increased employee contributions toward health care. The Yankee Institute warns that the agreement \u201cguarantees budget deficits and \u2014 by limiting future options \u2014 virtually guarantees future tax increases.\u201d We must do better! We can do better with bold leadership and courage to move Connecticut in a new direction. Legislators must restore public confidence by creating stability and predictability in our state budget process! People want to afford to live and work in Connecticut \u2014 to have a home, raise a family, run a business, and retire here. They can\u2019t afford increased taxes on sales, income, pensions, gas, business profits, real estate, inheritance, and gifts. People want a job market that offers opportunity and security. They want their roads, bridges, and trains fixed before the state builds anything new. They want affordable higher education for their children. They want high-performing schools and good healthcare plans. Connecticut can accomplish this by: Voting against the union labor agreement gives the legislature more options for labor savings. Some changes can be made statutorily without opening the contract. Lowering taxes to make our state attractive for people and businesses, thereby preserving and expanding Connecticut\u2019s tax base. Business creates value for everyone, because jobs are the best antidote to poverty. Believing business is good and profit is good, which creates a pro-business climate. Government should create a supportive climate for business, and then get out of the way. Capping state spending to reduce taxes. States have successfully done this, getting costs under control and ensuring solvency of retirement and healthcare plans. Identifying services performed better and more cost-efficiently by community-based nonprofits. Restricting borrowing to essential capital improvements and infrastructure investments, and bringing debt in line with guidelines for strong agency ratings. Spending strategically on transportation and education. Our state\u2019s leadership should strive to make Connecticut once again the envy of the country for its low taxes, friendly business climate, excellent schools, and superior quality of life. Connecticut must become a place where hard work and success are rewarded and people feel they have a future. Senate Republicans have a budget proposal that begins taking Connecticut in a new direction toward these goals. You can read about it at NewDirectionCT.com. Decide for yourself if this is the path we should take. I would love to hear your thoughts.