Friday, October 13, 2006
State Senate 22: Robert Russo
Part of an occasional series on challengers for seats in the General Assembly.
Bridgeport Born and Raised
Republican challenger Robert Russo was born and raised in Bridgeport. "I come from a long line of doctors and I thought I was going to be a doctor too." Russo explained, but after just two weeks of attending Georgetown University he changed his mind. While in college Russo interned with Rep. Chris Shays, beginning a political relationship that continues to this day. He has held positions as Shays's assistant, and headed Gov. Rell's Bridgeport office. Additionally he recruited Rick Torres to run as Mayor of Bridgeport. Russo ran against his current opponent Bill Finch in 2004, losing by just under 8 points. Currently he lives in Bridgeport and has his own law practice.
A Call For Oversight
Russo would like to see the creation of a GAO for the state of Connecticut. "I think we've got a waste issue, and I think what we need to do is something along the lines of what the federal government has done. The federal government has a General Accounting Office. They are essentially some really mean lawyers and accountants that are constantly combing through the government for fraud and abuse."
The most interesting aspect of Russo's vision for a GAO is that in addition to overseeing how money is spent at the state level, it would also look into the spending of towns and cities. "We need better financial oversight not on a state level so that it can save us money as state tax payers, but on a local level so that we can make sure that the state money is going where it's supposed to go."
The Car Tax
Russo supports the repeal of the car tax as a first step in property tax reform. "The bottom line is that it is too expensive to live in Connecticut. And people do need relief. The car tax is the first major piece of property tax reform ever proposed. And it was proposed by Governor Rell." When asked about the skepticism from several local communities about the car tax Russo suggested that concerns could be addressed in the bill. "You've got to make sure when the bill is written that it's written fairly." he said. He also pointed out that Rell's car tax plan would take the burden of collection off of communities. "No town collects 100% of its car tax, but under the Governor's plan they're going to get paid for 100% of their car tax."
"I totally support the Governor's 1.3 billion." Russo said when asked about transportation. He believes that Rell is on the right track in regards to mass transit and as a State Senator would follow her lead.
Expressing disdain for transportation studies, Russo would like to see a more direct approach to fixing Connecticut's traffic problem. "I'm actually dying to find the reporter who'll take the time to figure out how much money in the last ten years this state spent on transportation studies. For awhile it seemed like every year there would be two or three." Russo also has an idea for combating gridlock on I-95. "Let's close just half the entrance ramps just during rush hour. At non-peak times we can open them up. And let's see what happens. It'll cut out people like admittedly me who are using the highway to go short distances when they should be using the town roads."
Expressing support for programs like Husky and Connpace, Russo said that access to affordable healthcare was indeed an issue for Connecticut. He argues that the biggest obstacle to keeping healthcare costs down are malpractice suits. "We need to get the trial lawyers out of the hospitals and out of the doctor's offices. Medical malpractice rates in Connecticut are through the roof and it's driving doctor's out." Russo wants non-economic damages for malpractice suits capped at $500,000 and more scrutiny for Doctors who are accused of it. "You really want to punish a doctor? Take away their license. They're not trained to do anything else. My father wouldn't make a decent gas station attendant. He's only trained to be a doctor."
There's no denying that Robert Russo is a passionate guy who cares deeply about his district. If you'd like to learn more about Russo and his campaign, be sure to check out his website.
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