As part of‘s coverage of the elections on Nov. 4, and of the campaigns leading up to that day, we have set out some guidelines. Candidates are invited to submit up to two op-ed pieces before the elections. This is the first of State Sen. Toni Boucher‘s submitted editorials.

Listening to the residents of our district is important in my role as your state senator.

Families and seniors are struggling. Connecticut has been the only state with a negative GDP. Life here has become unaffordable with residents and businesses, which are taxed beyond tolerance, moving away in droves.

Unemployment in our cities is in the double digits. There are few jobs for young people and no job security for people lucky enough to be employed. While the national GDP growth rate for urban centers was 2.5 percent in 2012, after inflation, it was 0.4 percent in Fairfield County, and it shrank in our other counties by anywhere from 2.2 to 0.4 percent.

With diminishing disposable income, people cannot buy houses, goods, or services. What people expect from state leadership is clear. They want to be able to afford to live and work in Connecticut – to own or rent a home, raise a family, run a business, and retire here. They can’t afford the increased taxes on income, pensions, gas, business profits, real estate, inheritance, and gifts.

They want a job market that offers opportunity and security. They want their roads, bridges, and trains fixed before the state builds anything new. They want affordable higher education for their children. They want their high-performing schools and healthcare plans left alone, and they want to ensure that vulnerable populations, like seniors and the disabled, are well served.

Lowering taxes would make it attractive for people and businesses to come here, thereby preserving and expanding Connecticut’s tax base. Business creates value for everyone, because jobs are the best antidote to poverty. A pro-business climate is possible only if leaders believe that business is good, and that profit is good. Government should create a supportive climate for business, and then get out of the way.

The first step in reducing taxes is reducing state government spending. Other states have done this successfully, getting costs under control and ensuring the solvency of retirement and healthcare plans. We must identify services that can be performed better and more cost efficiently by community-based nonprofits. We must restrict borrowing to essential capital improvements and infrastructure investments, and bring debt in line with guidelines for strong agency ratings. We must spend strategically on transportation and education.

The objective of our state’s leadership should be to make Connecticut once again the envy of the country for its low taxes, friendly business climate, excellent schools, and a superior quality of life, and to ensure that it’s a place where hard work and success are rewarded and people feel they have a future.

State Senator Toni Boucher represents the 26th Senatorial District comprising Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton. She is Chief Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Transportation, Education and Higher Education Committees and Member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee. She is running for re-election.