Consistency, predictability, fairness, and a long-term vision: If state government would apply those qualities to tax, regulatory and workplace public policies, Connecticut would have a great start on rebuilding—and keeping--jobs, say business leaders.
Hundreds of business leaders fanned out to four breakout sessions at Connecticut Business Day for open conversations with lawmakers on top issues: Taxes, manufacturing, small businesses and labor.
For taxes, lawmakers heard that businesses look down the road at least 5-10-20 years and more in terms of planning, and usually many more. Job growth comes from a company being confident that it will be able to make a reasonable return on a long-term investment in a location. Uncertain tax policy dampens that confidence.
While some lawmakers have said that the budget deficits mean Connecticut has a “structural” problem with taxes, businesses said that’s just not so. They pointed to the fact that from 1992 to 2008, Connecticut reaped more than $6 billion in state budget surpluses—that were interrupted only when the economy went sour.
What Connecticut needs, said business leaders, is to adjust state spending and deliver services in a more efficient and cost-effective manner—something that businesses have to do all the time.Manufacturers
Connecticut manufacturers most want a fair and consistent regulatory policy. However, many manufacturers in that breakout session believe that the Department of Environmental Protection is concerned more with enforcement than fairness.
Executives also reminded lawmakers that manufacturing is still one of the most important economic drivers in Connecticut--with 5,000 manufacturers employing nearly 200,000 people and creating 8.3 other jobs in the state’s economy jobs for every $1 million in additional manufacturing output each year.
That’s a powerful economic player.
Small companies said they also want to see sound tax and regulatory policy from the state--along with responsible actions to take care of Connecticut’s dangerous fiscal situation.
With businesses constantly hearing from other states and locations about their lower-cost allures, one executive asked lawmakers what incentives would be available to make additional hires here in Connecticut as opposed to in the South, for example.
Lawmakers from the Commerce Committee replied that they were in fact working on a proposal to make the state’s current tax incentive program more applicable to small businesses so they can recoup up to 60% of the income taxes they pay if they hire even two or three people.
Another legislator challenged her colleagues on not only what pro- business measures they would support but “What will you do to combat anti-business bills?”
In fact, businesses of all kinds are unhappy that some lawmakers are again concentrating on the wrong kinds of proposals—such as mandatory paid time off—at a time when jobs are in danger.
Legislators urged businesses to contact them about their most critical issues. In a show of hands, most small business attendees indicated that in fact they had. But a few expressed frustration that their reaching out to legislators had not gotten a response from Hartford.