In his address at our Connecticut Economic Update conference last month, Pratt & Whitney president Bob Leduc emphasized the critical role of workforce development.
And he emphasized the responsibility we all have to help provide a pipeline of skilled workers for advanced manufacturing, particularly in aerospace and shipbuilding, but also in the automotive industry and other areas.
Leduc also spoke about the importance of having a strong business environment in the state, acknowledging that Connecticut already has some key competitive advantages—namely that we rank in the top 10 in productivity, the top five in school systems, and the top four in innovation.
He cautioned, however, that although those are strengths we can build on, we must build on them with "a cost base that's competitive."
Unfortunately, with less than a month to go in the 2019 General Assembly session, many legislators continue to push numerous proposals which, if approved, will drive up the cost of doing business in Connecticut and create more barriers to companies' ability to compete regionally, nationally, and globally.
Several tax bills intended to narrow the budget gap are on the table—proposals we believe will have the same impact as previous tax hikes: driving wealth, business investment, and jobs out of the state.
In addition, myriad new mandates and other legislation that add to employers' administrative burdens are now before the legislature, including the paid family and medical leave and minimum wage bills.
Our policy team is working diligently to mitigate the impact of those proposals, particularly on smaller businesses.
Many lawmakers, however, are making those measures their main objective, apparently failing to recognize the central importance of economic growth and job creation to solving Connecticut's debilitating fiscal problems.
It's the Economy...
While it was encouraging to hear so many positive stories from speakers and panelists at the April conference, the state's overall economic and jobs numbers remain troubling.
Preliminary first quarter statistics show that Connecticut lost 3,400 jobs through March this year, while most of the region and country continue to add jobs at a robust pace.
Connecticut's economy expanded last year for just the second time in the past 11 years, growing 1%—44th in the country. The national economy grew 2.9%, while the six New England states averaged 2% growth, led by Massachusetts at 2.7%.
In the face of that reality—and with just a few weeks left in the session—growing the state's economy must take precedence over feel-good measures that will only inhibit rather than encourage growth.
About the author: Joe Brennan is CBIA's president and CEO.