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GOP Lawmakers Tackle Budget, Wineries In Shelton Town Meeting

State Rep. Ben McGorty, Sen. Kevin Kelly and Rep. Jason Perillo
State Rep. Ben McGorty, Sen. Kevin Kelly and Rep. Jason Perillo Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
State Sen. Kevin Kelly and Rep. Jason Perillo
State Sen. Kevin Kelly and Rep. Jason Perillo Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
State Rep. Ben McGorty and Sen. Kevin Kelly
State Rep. Ben McGorty and Sen. Kevin Kelly Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

SHELTON, Conn. — The city’s Republican state representatives and state senator sat down with residents for a Town Hall meeting Monday night, addressing issues such as transportation funding, the probate court system, emissions testing and what they see as Gov. Dannel Malloy’s wrongheaded approach to the state budget.

“If your house is falling down, you don’t need a new garage,” said Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21).

Kelly said he worries that the Special Transportation Fund, set aside to be used solely for transportation-related expenditures, might not be as protected as it should be.

“The problem is when that money leaves your wallet, it has to get into the lockbox,” and not be intercepted for other uses, Kelly said.

Kelly and state Reps. Jason Perillo (R-113) and Ben McGorty (R-122, which also includes Trumbull and Stratford) told about 20 residents gathered that they are also concerned about the governor’s attitude toward balancing the overall budget, saying the numbers and estimates just don’t add up.

“They aren’t just wrong. The governor knows they’re wrong,” Perillo said. “The problem isn’t the revenue. The problem is we spend too much.”

How does Connecticut differ from other states when it comes to expenditures? The state offers a “ridiculous level” of employee benefits that costs taxpayers too much, Perillo said.

“Those union contracts are really strong,” he said.

One resident asked about Connecticut’s regulation of car buying, which currently means residents must buy through dealers and not directly from manufacturers. The legislators said they would look into options, but McGorty wondered how that would work over state lines.

“If you’re buying online from out of state, who’s going to collect the taxes?” he said.

They also discussed the many rules governing farm wineries, such as the business at Jones Family Farms in Shelton. For instance, a family picking out a Christmas tree at Jones at 10 a.m. Sunday could taste a sample of the farm’s wine, but would have to wait until 11 a.m. to buy a bottle. Package stores are allowed much longer hours.

Perillo said he suspects the topic will come up in the next session.

“Every year there’s a huge battle over farm wineries,” he said. “We fight that every year.”

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