Rose seeks fifth term; cites experience

State Rep. Kim Rose, a Democrat, is running for her fifth term as representative of the 118th District, hoping to return to tackle the budget, make sure vital social services are not dismantled, and ensure her constituents are represented in Hartford.

She said she knows how to get things done, and points to her start in politics as a member of a grassroots fight to prevent the construction of an affordable housing project in an area many people viewed as too dense. From there, she got involved in other local issues, was elected to the city’s Planning & Zoning Board, and then elected to the state representative seat.

The state has a huge deficit problem, Rose said, but there is good news in Connecticut too: Jobs are up, and there is $2 million in the state’s rainy day fund, “which is the first time in a long time,” she said.

She’s proud that the state has started funding pensions, saying that Gov. Dannel Malloy and Democrats “inherited a mess” where state pension funds are concerned.

“I came in the same year Malloy was elected, and that was the first time we actually started funding pensions,” she said. “It was a step in the right direction. We have a really long way to go.”

She is proud of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, which re-opened in 2015 after major reconstruction, and some of the infrastructure work that has been accomplished while she’s been in office. And she said there have been huge strides toward ending homelessness among veterans. She also noted that the state is phasing out the income tax on Social Security and pensions, “and that’s a step in the right direction for seniors.”

Businesses have moved out of the state, but Rose doesn’t necessarily believe taxes and policies are driving them away. “A lot of these businesses have moved out because of incentives that other states are offering,” Rose said. “They’re offering crazy amounts of money to move.”

Politicians have to stop bad-mouthing Connecticut, saying the state is broken: “If you keep repeating that, who is going to want to move here?” Rose said.

The state is not broken, though it does have problems, she said: “Millennials want to live in cities that are fun. Hartford has one of the best job markets, but until we start investing in some of the cities, we’re still going to have a difficult time attracting millennials.”

She’s fought the affordable housing law 8-30g, which many people in Milford believe allows developers to construct inappropriately dense developments on small parcels of land. While she sees changes made to the law as a major accomplishment, she thinks some local decisions compromised the intended effect of the revised legislation.

“The governor vetoed my bill, and I led a historic override,” she said, referring to 2017 legislation that loosened up some of the 8-30g regulations and allowed cities, like Milford, to more easily reach numbers that would allow a moratorium on affordable housing projects. “But the next month, [Milford’s] Planning and Zoning Board voted to take affordable housing out of the Post Road zones, to allow developers to build without affordable housing, and the Post Road would have been the perfect place to build, rather than pocket developments,” Rose said.

Rose said the state budget is her number one priority: “We need to continue to get on a path where we are able to fund our debt obligations and keep the state moving forward.”

Rose said there are areas to look at cutting spending, but she said often times cuts have unintended consequences.

“I spend a lot of time running interference,” she said. “Many seniors, and there are many in my district, were sick to their stomachs thinking they were going to lose Medicare or that premiums would be so high they would be bounced. I was able to work with leadership to get that money restored. Our seniors shouldn’t have to be so scared.”

She said the state has cut spending across the board, but the result has been many outraged citizens, for example those facing long waits at the Department of Motor Vehicles. She said, cuts have led to “atrocious” overtime costs at the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Service and the Department of Corrections.

These days she gets complaints from people about waiting hours to file unemployment claims because that department’s call center has been cut to 25 people from 60.

“If you cut people you aren’t going to get great service,” she said, adding that the people at the state working overtime “are exhausted.”

“There are so many things to consider,” she said.

The state has to focus on not spending where it doesn’t have to, like the $9.1 million Silver Sands State Park improvements, which Rose fought. “I’d love to take my credit card and buy an entire new wardrobe but I can’t do that,” Rose said. “The park is lovely, but we don’t need it right now. I get sick at the bonds coming through: Some of the projects are totally unnecessary.”

“We need to tighten our belts and get real,” Rose said.

Regarding state tolls, Rose noted that she tried to squash a toll study. She pointed to a political flyer she found in her mailbox, accusing her of supporting state tolls, and then she pulled up a letter on her computer that she wrote July 26 to the speaker of the House asking for a special session to stop the Bond Commission's approval of $10 million for the study of tolls. Efforts to stop the study failed and it is moving forward, but Rose said she tried to derail it, and the flyer had her rattled.

“I get upset when people lie,” Rose said.