Economy among chief concerns in 98th

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 6:05 AM EDT
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Coming off what she called a “very interesting, successful session,” state Rep. Patricia M. Widlitz, D-Guilford, said she is looking forward to a 15th term.

Widlitz pointed to the passage of an electronic recycling bill and a climate change bill in the past two years as accomplishments in the most recent session. Now, she said, state legislators will have to put most of their focus on addressing the poor economic climate.

Widlitz, a Democrat who lives in Guilford, is running unopposed in the 98th District, which covers parts of Guilford and Branford. She is the House’s assistant majority whip.

While campaigning, Widlitz said the most common concerns she hears are economic ones.

“In these difficult economic times, we’re going to need to help people,” she said. “We need to do more with fuel assistance and energy assistance for people who really, especially those living on fixed incomes, find their costs just escalating out of control.”

She added, “There will be difficult budget decisions along with that,” but said she thinks the government should work to help people struggling financially.

After Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a bill in June that would have allowed municipalities and small business to access the same health care plan as state employees, Widlitz, who voted for the bill, said she thinks the legislature will revisit the issue tin the next session.

Rell vetoed the measure as poorly written, but said she supports the concept, according to a news release from her office.

“The economy is going to be the key discussion coming up in the upcoming session, and there are many pieces to that, including health care,” Widlitz said. “There were some concerns around (the bill), so that will be back on the table, and we hope to make that a better bill coming forward.”

Widlitz added that, despite the adverse economic climate, another of her priorities is increasing state funding for education. She said that she would like to see the state offering more support for special education, a cost that towns currently assume.

“You have to look ahead to building a stronger economy in Connecticut and you do that by giving our kids a solid education, preparing them for the work force, so that we do have a good work force climate here and our industries can survive here,” she said.

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