DECD’s Smith: Budget Done, Jobs in Focus
Growing jobs in Connecticut is going to be the next major focus of the governor’s administration, says Catherine Smith, the new commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Speaking on a live radio broadcast of WNPR's Small Business Project this week, Commissioner Smith said the governor is committed to accelerating job growth in the state. WNPR’s John Dankosky moderated a discussion between Smith and CBIA economist Pete Gioia before an audience of about 40 small business leaders in Bridgeport.
(Commissioner Smith will also speak to Connecticut manufacturers at Manufacturing & Technology Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 25.)
She acknowledged that the state has “some work to do to improve the perception that Connecticut is not friendly to business.” And while Connecticut’s economic recovery has been slower than desired, “I think we’re starting to see a turning point,” said the commissioner.
Smith has high hopes for several legislative proposals that could “give the state more tools … and access to more dollars to invest in small businesses.”
Referring to the new state budget, Smith said that while “no one's wildly enthusiastic about raising taxes, the approach the governor has taken is good for the state.”
If the state’s economy continues to improve, she said, it’s likely the state tax burden can be reduced.
CBIA’s Gioa noted that the $40 million, two-year budget, which includes large-scale tax and fee increases, contained no “smoke and mirrors,” no borrowing, and embraced GAAP principles.
On the other hand, Gioia said that by restructuring the state's income tax, the budget significantly increases the tax burden on the thousands of small and midsize businesses that pay their business taxes through the personal income tax.
Businesses are very concerned, said Gioia. The income tax hike will mean “less money for investment, particularly job-creating investment — and our [economic] recovery is a fragile recovery.”
Audience members also took part in the discussion, with local manufacturer Kathy Saint, president and owner of Schwerdtle Stamp Company, telling the panel she was forced to cut her workforce from 50 employees to 24.
“You look at the number of groups up in Hartford advocating for taxes on businesses, it's no wonder that we feel like we're under siege,” she said. “There's just too big a burden on too few people.”
For more information about Manufacturing & Technology Day, call Toni Holmes at 860.244.1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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