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EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Brian Ohler Talks GOP Budget, “Trial-by-Fire,” and Repping Small Towns

April 28, 2017 By Staff
EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Brian Ohler Talks GOP Budget, “Trial-by-Fire,” and Repping Small Towns

Rep. Brian Ohler (R-North Canaan), a freshman member of the legislature, talked to Reclaim Connecticut about the state's "downward" budget spiral, leading by example, and adjusting to his new job.

“It’s trial-by-fire.”

That’s how Rep. Brian Ohler (R-North Canaan) described the first few months of his new job, representing Connecticut’s 64th Assembly District, which includes nine towns in the northwest corner of the state.

Still, Ohler, said it’s been an “eye-opening” experience, and one where he’s putting his “nose to the grindstone.”

“It’s a challenge I’m certainly up for,” Ohler said.

Reclaim Connecticut talked to Ohler about his new position, the GOP budget proposal, representing small towns, and connecting to constituents on Friday.

THE DEFICIT

Ohler said the news that Connecticut’s deficit is soaring 30 percent was disappointing, but not shocking.

“We’ve been preaching to anyone who would listen that these projections are on a downward spiral,” Ohler said. And the “reverse course is only gonna happen when we start making some strong changes … to our budgetary practices.”

THE BUDGET

Ohler said the GOP budget is a good start to getting Connecticut on the right path.

“What we’ve put forward is a great starting point,” Ohler said. “I’m proud to say that our party led by example yesterday.”

The freshman representative noted the GOP budget proposal puts town aid “right on par where it should be,” but also recognizes “that there needs to be strong, structural changes.”

“It’s all hands on deck,” Ohler said.

REPPING SMALL TOWNS

Ohler had praise for the small towns that he represents in Hartford.

“We’ve run our small towns in an efficient and cost-effective way,” Ohler said, calling them “the bread and butter of Connecticut.”

Connecticut needs a “budget that works for everybody,” Ohler concluded. If Connecticut wants to keep families and small businesses here, he said, the state has to make sure aid to small towns isn’t cut to bone.

FEELING CONNECTED

Ohler is one of the state representatives really attempting to harness modern technology to reach his constituents. He uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and live-streaming to share updates on his work in the legislature.

It’s about “accountability and transparency,” Ohler said.

“For the northwest corner, we’re an hour-and-a-half away from Hartford,” he added. “They often feel disconnected.”

If he can reach his constituents in new and quicker ways, Ohler suggested, he’ll do so.

“Whatever I accomplish in Hartford, they’re a part of that equation.”