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Opinion by Rep. Rob Sampson

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Since this column will come out just before the municipal elections and I am not on the ballot this cycle, I thought I might offer some perspective on serving in public office from my own experience.

Serving as our State Representative has been one of the highlights in my life. It’s a tremendous honor to be chosen as the voice for our community and the person entrusted to make the right decisions – not just when it’s easy, but also in times like these when it’s much more difficult.

Having served since 2011, I have experienced the whole spectrum of issues and the complications that go with them. I’ve been through four budget cycles, with “fix it” budget cycles in each of the intervening years. I have been on the forefront, and unfortunately the losing side, of many significant debates, including the repeal of the death penalty, the battle over the implementation of Obamacare in Connecticut, and the decision to give drivers licenses to people in the country illegally.

I was also there for the fallout after the terrible tragedy in Sandy Hook, which remains the most difficult period I’ve spent in the legislature. As if the horrific and painful nature of the event itself were not enough, the cravenly political and ineffectual response has only derailed real efforts to make our community safer. In one sense, these debates were not difficult: I always knew where I stood and how I would vote. I have strong convictions, and the considerable good fortune to represent a district where the vast majority of residents see the world much as I do.

The hard part, when it’s been hard, has been facing facts and circumstances that are so different from what the public is told by the press—and doing it at a time politicians are so widely distrusted. Politics has largely become a dueling set of talking points, mixed with accusations and conflicts made worse by the news media who dutifully regurgitate them. That’s nothing new: some of the most laudable of our founding fathers made brutal accusations against one another.

What’s different today is that the news media, in large part, has lost the shred of objectivity that made it worthy of its role in our democracy. Even worse, a seeming majority of people have lost the ability to disagree with respect and courtesy. If anything has made this job more difficult since I began my service, that is most definitely it.

I am a pretty outspoken person at the Capitol and in my personal interactions, never inclined to shy away from a spirited debate. However, I have always felt that a significant part of the greatness of America comes from our ability not only to blast our opinions from the rooftops but also to live and let live when others do the same, whether we are in agreement or not. I have made it a mini-mission of mine to restore respect for free expression, even when the disagreement is profound.

I think politicians should attack each other at campaign time – but only about the issues they stand for and against. To me, that is the purpose of campaigns: to let voters know clearly where the candidates stand. It is the attacks on character, misleading charges based on convoluted votes, and willful distortion of an opponent’s record that we could all do without. I have done my best to make my positions clear, and that approach has served me well.

I have also tried to do my part to restore public faith in elected officials. The vast majority of people who serve in elected office do it for good reasons and with some level of sacrifice–certainly of their time, and frequently financially – not to mention their sanity.   I am confident that virtually everyone who runs does so from a desire to make the world a better place and a conviction that they have something to contribute.

Let me end by thanking everyone who has served, and those who are running for office in my community this year. No matter what the outcome or office, I am sure it will come with rewards and challenges as well as good and bad days. I wish them all the best of luck.

Reps. Sampson and Fusco Enjoy Apple Fritters at Southington Apple Harvest Festival

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Representatives Rob Sampson and John Fusco attended the 49th annual Southington Apple Harvest Festival. The event featured apple fritters and long-lasting traditions that have drawn people from out of state.

Gov. Malloy Vetoes Bipartisan Budget, Backs CT Towns Into a Corner

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Not even two weeks has gone by since the General Assembly’s historic vote to adopt a bipartisan budget, and now Gov. Malloy has vetoed this legislation, backing Connecticut’s towns and cities into a corner.

Without a budget, the governor’s harsh cuts will go into effect this Sunday, October 1st, and local governments across the state, including Wolcott and Southington, will pay the price.

What happens next is on Gov. Malloy.

Two weeks ago, state legislators from both parties came together when eight Democrats joined every Republican in approving a two-year, no-tax-increase, balanced budget, that fully funded education for every town in our state.

Now, our state’s top official has blatantly rejected the will of the people.  Today, after much political posturing and misinformation designed to damage Republicans for making the hard choices necessary to fix the problems he created, Gov. Malloy followed through with his promise to veto the bipartisan budget plan.

Clearly his priorities are not shared by the majority of us.

Despite this significant obstacle, I am still committed to passing a responsible budget that does not raise taxes, makes structural changes, including caps on future spending and bonding, and requiring legislative approval for labor agreements, and fully funds education to the towns I represent.

I will keep you updated with any new developments and, as always, please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or concerns relating to the budget or any other state issue at rob.sampson@housegop.ct.gov or at (800) 842-1423.

Rep. Rob Sampson Defends First Amendment at SEEC Hearing – August 31, 2017

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Connecticut State Representative Rob Sampson (R80) testified at a State Election Enforcement Committee (SEEC) hearing on Thursday, August 31, 2017. Both Sampson and Sen. Joe Markley staunchly defended their first amendment rights to publicly criticize the policies of a sitting governor during the 2014 statewide elections.

RELEASE: Rep. Sampson Calls on Gov. Malloy to Uphold Will of the People, Sign Bipartisan Budget

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HARTFORD – State Representative Rob Sampson (R-80) joined a bipartisan effort in the Connecticut House of Representatives to pass the Republican, now bipartisan budget, approved late last week by the Senate in a 21-15 vote, and now en route to Governor Malloy for his signature. The vote took place during a special session of the House on Saturday, September 16, 2017 after months of discussions at the Capitol.

“Under the Governor’s proposal, the towns I represent would have lost millions of dollars, which would have led to huge reductions to education, damaging schools and punishing teachers and staff, while increasing our property taxes by maybe hundreds of dollars for each property taxpayer,” said Rep. Sampson. “Majority leadership was calling for tax increases on hospitals, vacation homes, cell phone bills, e-cigarettes, a reduction in the property tax credit and a surcharge on homeowner’s insurance premiums. Connecticut residents and businesses were always expected to give more, and receive less in return under Malloy’s leadership, but on Saturday we took a strong stand against the old way of doing things. The passing of this bipartisan document was the result.”

This budget balances the state’s $3.5 billion deficit by making structural changes to Connecticut’s financial structure, agencies and departments. Spending would be focused on core government functions including municipal aid, education cost sharing and services for those with mental and cognitive limitations, all without raising current taxes or imposing new ones. The core premise of the GOP’s proposals was to stabilize the state’s political and economic climate in an effort to retain current business leaders, and attract new investments. Several companies that have relocated to other areas of the country have cited Connecticut’s unpredictable tax and credit climate as major factors in their decisions to leave.

“This plan is actually remarkable in the way that it continues to protect the disabled community, seniors, and children considering the limited options available to us,” added Rep. Sampson. “Of course there are things each of us will find to disagree with in this bill. There are things I absolutely do not like in this budget. However, a budget is a document that requires a majority of legislators to agree with before it can pass and, therefore, is going to be a blend of positive elements you do like, and those you don’t like, but can live with. It’s not perfect, but it is the best and most responsible budget Connecticut has seen in a generation, and voting for it was the best decision I could make with the choices before me. Of course, I supported it.”

“If the governor vetoes this plan, what happens next is on him,” concluded Sampson. “October 1st will come, drastic cuts to municipal aid and education will take effect, and we will have officially passed this problem onto future generations. I hope every person in the State of Connecticut, including Governor Malloy, understands the historical significance of this moment, and the importance of the decision before us.”

The bill is now in transit to Governor Malloy who will either sign it into law, veto the bill, or take no action, in which case the budget becomes law. In order to override a veto, the bill must pass each chamber with a two-thirds majority. If a budget is not signed into law by October 1st, the governor’s executive order will go into effect, which is expected to have major implications for local governments and school districts.