Rivals agree on issues, split on solutions

Saturday, November 1, 2008 6:41 AM EDT
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

Three-term state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, a Republican, is facing a challenge from Democrat and longtime Old Saybrook Board of Education member Eileen Baker in the 23rd House District.

The district includes all or part of Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Lyme and Old Lyme. Both Giuliano, 55, and Baker, 56, live in Old Saybrook.

The candidates listed the current economic climate, tax reform, and keeping businesses and people in Connecticut as top priorities, but offered different policy solutions.

Giuliano said that she would like to make the state more affordable for seniors and young college graduates.

To do so, she is in favor of eliminating taxes on pension income and of creating a “first-time homebuyers’ trust fund,” which would allow graduates of the state’s colleges and universities to deposit income tax for their first 10 years working in Connecticut with the state treasurer and later withdraw it in order to purchase a home.

“This is a great state to live in but we are really in danger of losing our primacy as a very nice place to live, to work and to retire,” Giuliano said.

Baker said she thinks the state should be looking at property tax reform to help local residents during difficult economic times.

She said she would look for the federal and state governments to provide more education funding.

“When our education budget is not funded it ends up spilling out into the property taxes,” she said.

“(There is also) an opportunity to really begin working with our area on regional cooperation on issues that we could share and that might help with property taxes.”

Baker said she is in favor of expanding access to health care, and criticized Giuliano for voting against a bill last year that would have allowed municipalities, nonprofits and small businesses to access the same health care pool as state employees. The bill passed the legislature, but Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed it.

“I believe everyone should get health care and health care is not a privilege, it’s a right for everybody,” she said.

Giuliano said she supports making health care available to more people, but acted on advice from state officials that the plan could cost billions of dollars and cause some insurance companies to drop the state employees’ plan.

“I absolutely feel that health care should be accessible and affordable,” she said.

Baker also said she disagreed with Giuliano’s vote against the “Compassionate Care for Rape Victims” bill, which makes access to emergency contraception for sexual assault victims a requirement of standard medical care in all hospitals.

“She voted no against providing women quick and timely treatment should they be sexually assaulted, which means having access to all of Connecticut’s hospitals for treatment,” Baker said of Giuliano.

But Giuliano said she opposed the bill, which ultimately passed, because it included Catholic hospitals, and she supported an amendment that would have allowed a third party to provide the service for people being treated at Catholic facilities.

“I fully supported the emergency contraception,” she said. “I could not support an act of the legislation which supported religious intolerance.”

Giuliano is a school psychologist at Mile Creek School in Old Lyme and is married with two grown children. She is finishing her third term in the state legislature.

Baker is an adjunct professor of special education at Southern Connecticut State University and an education consultant, and has been a member of the Old Saybrook Board of Education for 19 years. She has two adult daughters.

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