Wilton Democrats meet

WILTON – Representatives Kermit Williams, of Wilton, and Steve Spratt, of Greenville, met informally on Saturday, April 12, with a handful of residents to discuss current issues and set some priorities for the fall elections.

The meeting was held at the Gregg Free-Wilton Public Library in Wilton. Carol Roberts served as facilitator, and had a list of questions from residents unable to attend.

Topics discussed were assistance to the needy, including Medicaid, increased aid for mental health, fuel assistance and rent subsidies, increased gas tax and the need to improve maintenance of state roads, and the casino bill, which now includes revenue sharing with cities and towns.

“In general, we are not a state that has much of a safety net for the needy,” Williams said. “We have a patchwork and food stamps are by far their biggest support.”

Spratt added, “There are a lot of programs out there for long-term care but they are fragmented. Fuel assistance is generally through the towns. We don’t have a state plan. New Hampshire has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement in the country.”

Williams said, “We are responsible for everyone. (For me) it’s a moral issue, but I think it’s a constitutional one. Everyone has rights.”

He noted while hospitals are required to provide services, cuts in reimbursements “result in cuts in services and lay-offs.”

Spratt added that “solutions are money-driven, not people-based. What a doctor says takes a back seat to cost.”

They noted the paperwork required by some insurance companies to have certain prescriptions filled, which could take days.

In the efforts to hold down taxes, Spratt said, “state revenue meets just the barest needs.”

In discussing the rise in gas taxes, Williams said for the average driver, it would “add about 80 cents to fill a tank.”

He noted that the state’s bad roads can add “$400 to $500 in damage to a car.” And, he added, “once a road is rated poor, you just can’t repave it. You have to tear it up and start over. Regular maintenance is cheaper. We lose about 50 miles of road to the ‘poor’ list a year.”

Spratt said the state “does a terrible job on cost avoidance.”

The casino bill is still under discussion by the Legislature. Both men stated the need for more revenue and liked the new section, which would reinstate revenue sharing. The state, they said, loses millions of dollars to out-of-state casinos in both Maine and Massachusetts.

It was agreed that Williams will write a regular newsletter featuring three or four pieces of legislation and will include explanations of why the bill matters, and will ask readers to contact him.

The group will take part “in some manner” in Old Home Days, scheduled from Aug. 16-23.