Former State Sen. Toni Boucher. Toni Boucher

Over the last few years, our politics have become polarized in a way that I’ve never seen and never would have expected. Civility, kind gestures or words seem to be in short supply. Too many people in our country have developed an “us against them” mentality and believe that our government institutions no longer work for them.

If you identify yourself as a Republican or Democrat, people immediately make judgments about what you believe and support. Both sides have ugly labels they apply to their counterparts based solely on party affiliation. But do they really know what you believe in and why?

When I joined the Senate Republican Caucus in 2009, Connecticut, like other states, was facing the worst economic crisis since the great Depression. We had a new, Democratic governor, a Democratic super majority in the house and senate, and a massive budget deficit.

Being in the minority party, the task ahead appeared daunting. However, instead of deferring to those who controlled the process, the budgets, and the votes before our legislative body, Republicans were proactive. We rolled up our sleeves and proposed one alternative budget after another. We did that every year in an attempt to sway our colleagues toward what we believed were more fiscally responsible solutions.

These were not gimmicks created merely to show opposition. We presented real budgets offering real change. We believed then, and now, that our budgets would move Connecticut toward a robust economy with growing job opportunities. We believed responsible taxing and spending policies would create a more business-friendly environment, and would give taxpayers needed financial relief.

We were called obstructionists. We were called the party of ‘no.’ We were called the party of old, white men. In fact, Democrat colleagues spent a tremendous amount of time telling the public what it meant to be a Republican. They could not be more wrong!

For one thing, Connecticut Republicans have and continue to increase diversity in our ranks. Our party includes members from the LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and even short Italian females. In fact, there have been more Republican women than Democratic women in our House of Representatives.

A compassionate conservative vision

As for me personally, being a Republican means having a vision of a better Connecticut. It means being self-reliant, industrious, fiscally responsible and compassionate to those that need our help. It means being forward thinking, not just to the next year or next election cycle. It means thinking about the impact that decisions we make today could have on future generations. Are we leaving them a legacy, or a burden?

I am very proud to say that part of this legacy is a unanimous passage of our nation’s toughest hate crimes law, crafting Connecticut’s landmark gun bill and spearheading the holocaust and other genocide education mandate. Our legacy includes legislation that protects our environment and open space, healthcare, women’s rights, marriage equality, civil rights, as well our children.

A party’s budget reveals its priorities. What services do you prioritize when spending taxpayers’ money?
Republican budgets include an Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula that provides state funding for all of Connecticut’s students, urban and suburban. It supports providing necessary funding to care for our elderly, and residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Republican urban agenda calls for funding programs that help people go back to work and maintain employment. These include childcare, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and multigenerational programs that meet the needs of both teen mothers and their children. I believe we must continue to support programs that help people become self-reliant.

Republicans support a state budget that provides funding for our municipalities without asking them to pay for bad financial decisions made by the state. Republicans proposed a transportation plan that contains bonding for crucial infrastructure needs and mass transit: one that does not include tolls, more taxes, or fees.

Republicans believe that tax policy is the key driver of the state’s economy. Taxes should not be the first thing policy makers go to when looking to balance our budgets. We need to keep costs as low as possible for taxpayers and businesses, so that our economic climate is more competitive than the other states that are attracting our diminishing population. If we are able to create an environment for private job growth, we will have the tax base to fund the critical social services that residents need.

Republicans will continue to present ideas to save our state from financial ruin. We advocate for reduced regulations and a more business-friendly climate that will create job opportunities for everyone.

No matter the setbacks or national headlines, Republicans will continue to listen to what people want and press forward with a vision for what our state can be: a Connecticut with an expanding middle class, where all children receive a good education, where everyone has the opportunity to find a good job or to create and grow their own business. That’s what being a Connecticut Republican means to me.

Abraham Lincoln , the father of the Republican Party, says it best “ The people will save their government , if government itself will allow it.”

Toni Boucher is a Connecticut businesswoman and former Connecticut State Senator, State Representative and with a long career of public service.

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  1. Toni deserves our thanks and appreciation for her service, and, as usual, her comments are very reserved, kind and generous. I have attended numerous town halls with Toni and she is the personification of what she is preaching here – Civility and respect. The type of hatred that comes from the left, by both the politicians and the media were never practiced by Sen Boucher.
    She is very kind saying that the “other side” characterizes conservatives as “the party of No” and obstructionists. Actually, it is must more detrimental and hateful than that. The Daily News claimed Republicans were “The party of Death” and it is impossible to quantify the number of times conservatives have been characterized as “Nazis” or “Hitler”, or as when our Senior Senator claimed that Trump’s border security plan was identical to the “holocaust”.
    We have lost, not only a very good senator, but one of the few decent, civil, and respectful persons in the State Senate, and replaced her with a 22-yo trust baby who promises “progressive ideas” and like so many career politicians has never held a “real job”. So he arrives with reservations WRT his ability to identify with the hard-working people of this district.
    Nevertheless, I wish Will Haskell well, and while I don’t support his socialist ideals, and don’t expect him to continue Toni’s advocacy for small biz or for the working taxpayers, I do hope that he will continue to maintain Toni’s legacy of civility and respect for all.
    Thanks, Toni

  2. For the foreseeable future measured in decades CT will remain a “blue State”. So even if GOP ideas were given high marks by economic and financial professionals CT voters will continue to do what they did after Gov. Malloy’s troubling 8 years. Continue to elect another Democart. With the same troubling Democrat vision.

    Anyone who doubts our most successful and capable citizens do not fully understand the prospects for resolving CT’s troubles ought pull up Zillow and view the astonishing number of high end homes for sale in the Gold Coast – 4,000 and counting.

    Democrats have a vise grip on CT. New ideas from the GOP however enlightened or professionally based will not move the needle.

  3. Just for the record, when Toni Boucher joined the State Senate in 2009, the Governor was Jodi Rell, not Dan Malloy. The “worst economic crisis since the great Depression” began during Republican leadership, and two years later she left with a massive deficit looming. Republicans like to talk about how the Democrats had a “veto proof majority” during this time, but not once that I remember did Rell actually veto a budget and have it overridden. In fact, the last budget went through without any action on her part at all, as she neither signed it nor vetoed it. She simply walked away.

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