Senator Len Suzio has earned a reputation at the state Capitol over the past 17 months as a tax-cutting fiscal conservative.
As such, Suzio surprised many Tuesday night when he was the only Republican who voted in favor of the Democratic-written budget that increased spending. Only one hour before the vote, he had led the fight to cut the state’s gasoline tax in a move that was soundly rejected by the Democratic majority.
When asked about his vote on the Democratic budget, Suzio joked, “I’ve become a liberal.”
In all seriousness, Suzio said he needed to vote in favor of the budget because it provides extensive funding for the four communities that he represents: Meriden, Middletown, Middlefield, and Cheshire. All of those communities will receive increased education cost-sharing money under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education package. In addition, the Edison School – a popular magnet school in Meriden – will also receive a funding hike.
“Meriden, itself, is a poor city, and we need all the help we can get,” Suzio told Capitol Watch on Tuesday night. “It’s a win-win for my district. The Republican alternative budget contained all that same funding.”
In the end, Suzio said he must think first about his district.
“I’m a conservative. I don’t deny that,” he said outside the Senate caucus room. “I’m proud of it. But if you’re not practical in politics, you’ll never be successful in politics.”