A False Choice
We’re often told at the Capitol that we have a choice: We either raise taxes or cut services to our neediest citizens.
That’s a false choice.
A progressive society can succeed at both. By nurturing the private-sector economy and creating a business climate that’s competitive regionally, nationally, and globally, we can ensure good jobs and benefits and generate tax revenues to pay for essential services.
Those are the goals of the CT20x17 campaign, but we can’t achieve them if we keep driving up the cost of doing business.
Tax increases, for example, can’t be viewed in a vacuum. It’s important to consider that Connecticut is a high-cost state in many other areas.
We are one of the most expensive states for healthcare in part because we have legislated more insurance coverage mandates than most other states.
One reason our energy bills are higher than other nearby states is that we have the most aggressive requirements for incorporating renewable power into our portfolio of electricity sources.
That, in turn, has forced Connecticut utilities to enter into more expensive renewable supply contracts, the cost of which is passed onto ratepayers.
Connecticut employers who are trying to provide good wages, good benefits, safe workplaces, and stable jobs have to compete from a state where they’re not just dealing with one high-cost area.
They have to operate where all business costs—healthcare, energy, labor, and certain taxes—are among the steepest in the nation.
Somewhere, there has to be a breaking point.
Only through investment can we have the two critical components of economic growth: capital and talent. We’re not going to attract the capital if business people can’t make a reasonable return on their investment, and we’re not going to attract the talent unless we have good, stable job opportunities for people.
The legislature’s Appropriations and Finance committees proposed a budget that increases spending by $1.5 billion over two years. It renders the spending cap meaningless. And it raises taxes by $2.56 billion over two years.
The compromise budget deal worked out over the weekend did little to blunt the punitive nature of these tax hikes. It’s unaffordable, unsustainable, and untimely in that it is offered at a time when Connecticut is lagging the nation in recovering lost jobs and has the highest unemployment rate in New England.
That does not create an environment that attracts investment—which, in the end, hurts us all.
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