Last month, I was fortunate to participate in the kickoff meeting of the Lamont-Bysiewicz transition policy committees at Eastern Connecticut State University.
Convened to help the governor-elect frame his agenda, with a focus on actions he can take in the first 100 days of his administration, the 15 committees represent various policy areas, from education, energy, and healthcare to transportation, the environment, and jobs and the economy—the committee on which I was asked to serve.
Committee recommendations for actionable items are due Dec. 12, with public discussion scheduled for Dec. 17–19.
In addition to the committees, the governor-elect appointed a separate team to tackle the state's ongoing fiscal troubles.
Although at this writing the committees had just begun their work, I believe a priority for the Jobs/Economy Committee should be recommending the adoption of a more specific strategic plan around economic growth and focusing on talent development and recruitment to alleviate Connecticut's labor shortage.
Fiscal Stability, Business Climate
We also need to take a hard look at our state agencies—not only the Department of Economic and Community Development, but all agencies that have an impact on businesses—to ensure they're all pulling in the same direction to create a better climate for our companies to invest and grow.
An economic resurgence in Connecticut also requires revitalizing our cities, including developing a plan for providing residents with educational and training opportunities that better prepare them for the fulfilling, well-paying jobs that will drive Connecticut's economic future.
The legislature's pivot away from tax hikes had a positive impact on the #CTeconomy says CBIA's Joe Brennan. "The key now is to maintain that focus on fixing our fiscal problems." https://t.co/ftr8Q7Iigo #ctbudget
— CBIA (@CBIANews) November 30, 2018
By the end of the meeting, it was not hard to see that Lamont faces a tough challenge—not only changing the long-term trajectory of Connecticut's economy but also instilling in people a stronger sense of optimism about the heights our state can reach if we all work together toward a common goal.
As I have said in the past, Connecticut has enormous economic potential, but we've been held back, most significantly, by our fiscal problems.
Focus on Jobs, Economic Growth
Although it's widely understood that those problems won't be solved overnight, the process can begin in earnest if the governor-elect and lawmakers are willing to make the very hard choices to show the people and employers of Connecticut that the state is headed down a sustainable fiscal path.
So far, according to most of the media reports of post-election press conferences, there seems to be a focus by the new majority in the legislature on issues largely unrelated to growing our economy and creating jobs.
In contrast, despite the differences in the focus of the 15 transition policy committees, all of them—not just the one on which I serve—are required to indicate in their reports how implementation of policy in their areas will spur economic growth and create jobs.
That shows a recognition of what Mary Kay Fenton stated so eloquently at CBIA's Annual Meeting last month: "Jobs improve individual lives, jobs turn around communities, jobs turn around states—and they don't come from government, they come from businesses."
About the author: Joe Brennan is CBIA's president and CEO.