Rep. Srinivasan talks to seniors about state budget
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Jun. 23, 2011
State Rep. Prasad Srinivasan (R-31st District) spoke to a crowd mostly comprised of seniors at the Riverfront Community Center on June 20, to give an update on the state budget, but also to talk about his experiences during his first legislative session.
Srinivasan said he intends to hold several such meetings, including another on June 29 at the Welles-Turner Memorial Library, where he can get feedback from constituents.
A full-time physician, Srinivasan said he made special preparations to make sure he balanced coverage of his patients with his duties in Hartford.
“I wanted to give it all that I have when I go to the Capitol,” he said. “I wanted to be a voice. I wanted to be sure your message was heard loud and clear. I wanted to make sure I gave it my very best.”
Regarding his first legislative session, Srinivasan said he felt both fulfilled and frustrated. The fulfilling part is having been able to see a bill go from proposal to fruition, as well as seeing the process of how a bill does not pass.
“All of that has been very exciting,” he said.
However, Srinivasan said there were some aspects of the process that have not been as thrilling, such as a lack of a cohesive schedule during the session.
“Two days [ahead], I will not know if the chamber is meeting at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., or not meeting at all,” he said. “That has been, for me – an organized person – very frustrating.”
Even more difficult, Srinivasan said, was that the legislators often don't have a chance to research a topic up for discussion ahead of time, but rather they receive an agenda of the bills being discussed on a given day when they walk in the door.
“We walk into the chamber, and then we get a ‘go list,’” he said, adding that the representatives have a short amount of time to read up on the topic and often resort to getting the information on their computer screens while the discussion is taking place.
“Is that the most effective way to make decisions,” he asked, “after you have not had the opportunity to read about it?”
Although the legislative session has ended, Srinivasan said, that doesn't mean it's time to stop working.
“In technicality, the work is far from over,” he said. “The incomplete issues – of which there are quite a few – are what we will be talking about in the weeks and months [ahead].”
He added that a special legislative session has already been scheduled for the fall.
Srinivasan said a main concern of his is that the state budget was passed, but without an agreement on concessions from state employees.
“This entire budget that we've passed,” he said, “[with] the highest tax hike that we have had in the history of Connecticut, is still a work in progress. The assumption here is that $2 billion is the concession that we are going to be getting from the [state employee] unions over the next two years. That is already built into this next budget. [But] the unions have not decided.”
With the deadline for the union agreement set for June 24, Srinivasan said that the best-case scenario is that the concessions will net the state $1.6 billion, leaving still a gap of $400 million.
“We do not know where it is going to come from,” he said, “[even though] the constitution of our state demands that the assembly comes with a balanced budget.”
Srinivasan said one of the biggest challenges ahead for Connecticut is to go from being among the least “business-friendly” states to one that fosters business growth, benefiting the economy long-term.
“What has always concerned me is making small businesses more effective,” he said. “The way you do that is, first, by not introducing any more mandates.”
Srinivasan said the recently-passed paid sick leave bill is an example of a mandate that makes things harder for businesses.
“If you look at our present budget, our corporate taxes have doubled,” he said, “making the corporations less attracted to being in this particular state. We need to stay out of businesses and reduce their bill, as far as their taxes are concerned.”
Srinivasan said that although it seems like taxing businesses make the state's bottom line look better in the short term, he thinks the long-term gains are much greater if more businesses stay or set up shop in the state.