By: Claire Bessett
The two candidates for the 19th District state Senate race sparred
frequently during an hour-long radio debate this morning over taxes,
leadership and the recent Norwich Public Utilities rate increases
opposed by residents and businesses.
Democratic Sprague First
Selectwoman Cathy Osten and Republican 47th District state Rep.
Christopher Coutu appeared on the Lee Elci show on 94.9 FM, and by the
end of the hour had only gotten through three of the 15 questions the
radio show host had prepared. A second debate is planned.
debate turned heated when Coutu accused Osten of running an autocratic
town hall in Sprague in which employees and volunteer commission members
are uncomfortable. He started to point out that two town employees have
resigned, when Osten interrupted and accused Coutu of making a libelous
statement without facts.
"That is a flat out lie. An absolute lie," Osten said.
said one worker left after being accused of stealing money from the
town. She said most board and commission members have served in their
positions for years.
Coutu repeatedly painted Osten as a labor
union leader and supporter of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's tax increases and
spending increases that included "corporate welfare" to hedge fund
companies and other large corporations and tax increases that have hurt
residents and small businesses.
He said Sprague has an 11 percent
unemployment rate, higher than the state and national averages. Coutu
said he has been fighting to reduce taxes for working families.
But Osten repeatedly pressed Coutu for what specific cuts in services and state spending he would propose.
"Are you going to let me speak?" Coutu said after repeated interruptions.
Coutu, who prepares income tax returns for residents, said he
opposes Malloy’s new Connecticut Earned Income Tax Credit. He said
residents would be better off with lower gasoline taxes, sales taxes and
without the expanded taxes on services ranging from dog grooming to
clothing under $50.
Osten quickly fired back that Coutu’s proposal would hurt low income families who could least afford it.
“So you’re going to take away the earned income tax credit from
the people who can least afford it,” Osten said. “… Thank you. I
Later Thursday, Coutu said the state’s $1,700 earned income tax
credit comes on top of a federal earned income tax credit to qualifying
families of $6,000 and said the state cannot afford the extra boost.
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