The prospect of higher taxes worries many people, said U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District. But he does not believe people will flee Fairfield County because of them.

“I represent people, none of whom want to see higher taxes, most of whom understand that there need to be changes made to address the deficit. But it’s just not factual to say we’re going be an economic ghost town if taxes go up,” Himes said Wednesday during a wide-ranging interview with Main Street Connect reporters and editors about tough financial times for the state and the country.

The prospect of higher taxes is weighing on many Fairfield County residents, especially after Gov. Dannel Malloy announced his proposed 2011-12 spending plan. “If taxes grew completely out of control, that (relocation) would be an issue, but people move to a place like Connecticut for its quality of life and quality of schools,” said Himes, a Democrat from Greenwich. “Slashing budgets will damage both of those things.”

Getting the nation’s fiscal house in order will take looking at more than just non-defense discretionary spending, about 15 percent of proposed national budget, Himes said. “We should be talking about the whole picture,” he said. “Right now, we [Congress] are trying to balance the budget on the back of this tiny little pie slice.”

Himes also encouraged residents to be vocal about investments in high-speed rail service and education, which will be important for Fairfield County’s future.

“There’s no excuse for scaling back educational investment at a time when businesses in this area are having a really hard time recruiting qualified American graduates,” he said. “We can’t make changes we need to do in ways that will hurt our prosperity 20 to 30 years from now. Under-investing in education and transportation is a total recipe for hurting our prosperity down the road.”

Malloy’s proposed budget may have “managed to anger just about everybody,” the congressman said. But Himes said no single group was outraged disproportionately, and Malloy made “a level-headed effort at the principle of shared sacrifice.”

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