$100 MM here, $100 MM there, and it adds up
Updated: Oct 29, 2020
I believe it is important that the state government be run efficiently and public capital be deployed prudently.
Earlier this month, the legislature approved $189 MM. to rebuild the high school in Norwalk with 80% of the funds coming from the state. The school building is old and it can either be renovated by spending $10 MM. or be rebuilt. The community prefers to rebuild it. That is a reasonable choice. Investing in education is a good idea.
What is wrong about this spending is the price tag - a similar sized school in Connecticut should cost $ 75 MM. What is wrong about this spending is that the state government is going to pay 80% of the price tag - instead of the standard 30% to 50%. What is wrong with this spending is that it did not go through the standard due diligence process. What is wrong with this spending is that it was passed in a special session as a back room deal to accommodate the Democratic Senate majority leader from Norwalk. What is especially wrong is that the Democrat legislators from Greenwich rubber stamped it and looked the other way. I was the only Greenwich representative who stood up and objected. I asked for appropriate due diligence and I insisted that the cost be brought in line with the norm.
The stated reason for the abnormally high cost was that this was necessary to attract IBM's PTech program. The PTech program is already in place at the high school. The true reason which is an open secret is that a brand new building was the pet project of the majority leader from Norwalk and he pushed the project through. The special session and COVID was the perfect opportunity to push this through with minimum scrutiny.
Your vote for my re-election is a vote for fiscal prudence . My opponent has launched a dirty campaign against me and the Hartford establishment is helping my opponent because they do not want such scrutiny. This $100 MM. is not an isolated one time event. There is a long history of poor capital allocation and imprudent spending which over time has resulted in Connecticut being heavily indebted. By re-electing me, you will have a check on such egregious spending.
As your State Representative, I will fight for prudent spending and careful vetting. I will not be shy about advocating for investments in education and infrastructure. However, I will make sure we do not allow such grandiose projects at such high costs to go through. I will advocate for efficiency in our state programs. I ask for your vote to be able to work for you and to make sure that your tax dollars are spent wisely.
Harry Arora is a state representative in Greenwich’s 151st district.