Economic Development: Focus on Jobs Proposals
Following up on last year’s Jobs Session, the Commerce Committee proposed a bill (SB 1) that would have expanded some key jobs initiatives and introduced new ones. SB 1 sailed through the Senate but was denied a vote in the House.
Other committee proposals that won approval and are designed to help Connecticut’s economy include efforts to expand research and development at colleges and universities and to widen a program to keep talented young people in the state.
Jobs Bill in Limbo
Disagreement between the two chambers’ respective leaders over a separate issue doomed SB 1 without regard for the bill’s likely positive effect on job growth.
SB 1 would have expanded eligibility for business loans and grants, provided incentives to hire and train returning combat veterans, promoted tourism and Connecticut-made products, and doubled the “First Five” financial incentive program to the “First Ten” companies that create at least 200 new jobs in the state.
There may be a summer sequel to SB 1, however, as legislators prepare for a special session. Negotiations at the Capitol could revive parts of SB 1 in forthcoming legislation to implement the revised state budget.
CBIA encourages legislative leaders to include the important pro-jobs measures contained in the bill as part of the implementation bill in order to provide a boost to our sluggish economic recovery.
A measure to strengthen research and development efforts at state colleges and universities (SB 80) passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature.
SB 80 expands the authority of the top executives of Connecticut’s higher education institutions to create technology “test beds” at their schools by purchasing emerging technology for testing and evaluation.
This will allow the universities to test new technologies, products, or processes to, among other things, assess their commercial potential and possible benefit to the state’s economy.
Keeping Talent Here
SB 78 will expand an existing state program aimed at keeping educated young people in Connecticut. Approved by the legislature, SB 78 is now awaiting the governor’s signature.
The measure expands the Live Here, Learn Here program to graduates of in-state private colleges, universities, or healthcare training institutions. Qualified participants will be able to get help through the program to purchase their first homes in Connecticut.
The state allows them to save money for a down payment on a first home by segregating a portion of their income tax payments in a first-time home buyers’ fund.
A missed opportunity was a proposal that could have helped reduce unnecessary or untenable state business regulations. SB 222 passed nearly unanimously in the Senate but died in the House.
SB 222 would have created a regulatory fairness board of business representatives to advise the Department of Economic and Community Development and legislature on how various state business regulations and enforcement activities were impacting businesses.
This new board would have held a number of forums in different parts of the state to gather information from the business community about potential regulatory reforms. Then the board could have proposed reforms to the Commerce Committee on an annual basis beginning in 2013.
Despite dying this session, SB 222 was a good idea—one that other states are using to good effect. Lawmakers should revisit the concept in the next legislative session.
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