My Citizens Agenda: Audrey Blondin on property taxes, health care, student debt
What issues do you want to see covered and debated in Connecticut's 5th District race this year?
Editor’s Note: We are asking voters throughout Connecticut’s 5th District to help us decide what issues to focus our coverage of this year’s congressional race on. Instead of assigning reporters to cover the “inside politics” of the campaigns, we’ll be picking the top three to five issues as decided by our readers, and providing an in-depth look at where the candidates stand on them. Today, we’re presenting the “Citizens Agenda” of Audrey Blondin, local attorney, member of the Connecticut Democratic State Central Committee, 30th District, and a former member of the Litchfield Board of Selectmen. Blondin toyed with a run for the 5th District seat herself, but opted not to and has endorsed Dan Roberti.
By Audrey Blondin, Special to The Register Citizen
I think here in Torrington a major issue is the large drop in property values and the number of people who own houses where they owe more than they’re worth, coupled with a very high property tax rate in relationship to what the houses are now worth.
I recently looked at a house that is on the market for half of what it was worth five years ago, yet the taxes are over $6,000 a year. That is a situation that is repeated throughout the local area here, and once the property values have dropped now as much as they have, you have so many people that are just walking away from their properties rather than keep throwing good money after bad. I think this is a situation that you’re going to find throughout the more urban areas in the 5th congressional district and once re-evaluation comes around again and the properties are so devalued, the amount of taxes owed per household will drop, making it even more difficult for the municipalities to sustain the level of services they’re currently struggling to maintain.
I think health care is another area where the individual cost of health insurance is unsustainable, causing a huge crisis for those who are uninsured and unable to get the healthcare they need. There is also a huge lack of health care providers unwilling to see Medicaid patients, resulting in long waits for appointments and often a long way to travel to find a provider willing to treat Medicaid patients. This is not right and the issue of quality healthcare for all has either got to be upheld by the Supreme Court or dealt with by Congress in another manner.
Massive student loan debt is another area where we as a country have saddled an entire generation with huge amounts of student loans that are going to take decades to pay-off, if ever. As long as millions of 20- to 30-year-olds owe thousands and thousands of dollars each in student loans, the economy will never be able to sufficiently recover because these individuals are too burdened with debt to ever get ahead financially in any way.
I also think we have failed as a country to take the bull by the horns and make a serious and sustained effort towards green energy. Since the 1970s we have failed, decade after decade, to take advantage of opportunities to wean ourselves off of our dependency on foreign oil, but rather than doing something other than paying lip service to the cause, we have done nothing to grow our economy in a green way and here we sit in 2012 with $4 a gallon gasoline with no end or hope in sight to a situation that should have been dealt with decades ago.
Connecticut I believe has the largest disparity between the rich and the poor of any state in the nation. I believe a major cause of this disparity is an unequal educational system that pits rural against urban and wealthier against poor cities and towns. We need a sustained commitment from the Federal government to fund educational programs from birth to 3, preschool for all, and K-12 programs that benefit all children equally regardless of where they were born or where they’re from. If we as a nation don’t address these educational inequities that have grown worse instead of better, we will continue as a nation to fall further & further behind our world counterparts.
Lastly, I think the refusal of Congress to provide a path to citizenship for the over 13 million people living and working here illegally, and to further refuse to pass the Dream Act so their children can benefit educationally is something that we should all be ashamed of and should immediately be addressed to help not only these individuals, but this will also greatly enhance and improve the local, state and national tax base as well as Social Security and Medicare. It’s just plain stupid to think that this situation is going to go away or is going to be ignored forever. Except for the descendants of the Native Americans living here today, we all came from somewhere else, and it’s shameful that we as a country have not stepped up to the plate and taken the actions necessary to correct this wrongful situation.