117th District: Connecticut needs forward-thinking leaders

By Cindy Wolfe Boynton

I’m running for state representative because now, more than ever, Connecticut needs forward-thinking leaders with a vision on how to make our state a healthier, more affordable place to live and work.

Connecticut needs progress, not politics. My plan for moving Connecticut forward includes us simultaneously growing state revenue; increasing our investments in education, job training and apprenticeship programs; and creating a pipeline to good-paying jobs in fast-growing industries.

It’s a plan that has us looking at our problems holistically, rather than individually, and puts the economic health and wellbeing of our residents first.

Many legislators seem to have forgotten that at the other end of most budget decisions are people – people who need jobs, people who need health care, and people who should be able to afford to live and work here.

We also seem to have forgotten that not every person has the same abilities, background, beliefs or desires. Case in point: How we view our school systems.

The current way we judge the success of our public schools is by counting the number of graduates who go on to college.

But what if, instead, we decided to view the goal of high school as not just to prepare students to get accepted into the best colleges — something that today is seen as a must, rather than a choice — but to help them become their best selves. School would be where students gained knowledge, discovered their talents, and were guided toward the best next step.

For some, that next step might be college. But for others, it might be to learn a trade or enter an apprenticeship program.

Aside from our vastly under-supported vo-tech high schools, no statewide pipeline currently exists to educate young people about the benefits of learning the skills needed to enter fast-growing, good-paying fields like advance manufacturing. Yet the benefits of creating this kind of program could be far reaching.

Connecticut manufacturers currently employ approximately 160,000 workers. The industry is growing so fast, however, that up to 14,000 new skilled workers are expected to be needed over the next few years. Right now, there are 2,000+ good-paying, open manufacturing jobs available across the state, but no skilled workers to fill them.

Creating programs to guide people of all ages toward the training needed to take on these positions will help grow our economy, increase our tax base, and reduce the number of people receiving state assistance.

Filling these jobs will also mean more people staying and living here. The benefits of providing our manufacturers with the skilled workers they need, and perhaps even attracting new ones, go without saying.

Changes like these take time, but the results become long term and can serve as the foundation for even more positive growth.

As state representative, I will never vote to increase taxes. I am against turning to taxes to solve our problems. Rather, Connecticut needs to be open for business, progress and new ideas, which is currently not the case.