How to Keep Connecticut Open for Business
Next Wednesday, 40 Connecticut manufacturers–representing tens of thousands of good jobs and the promise of even more–will showcase the expanse and energy of the state’s economy during a Manufacturing & Technology Day exhibit in the first-floor halls of the State Capitol.
It’s a day (May 25) that is a source of state pride—and an opportunity for policymakers to affirm that Connecticut is really “open for business.”
When state lawmakers visit the exhibits, will they be reminded of how their decisions impact the ability of those businesses, and many others, to stay, compete and create jobs in Connecticut?
In fact, how legislators vote on numerous proposals between now and adjournment on June 8 will go a long way to determine how committed the state is to a renewal of economic growth and job creation.
Their votes also will reveal whether lawmakers’ “pro-jobs” campaign pledges last fall were true.
Experts say the confidence of businesses and consumers will be the deciding factor in states’ economic recovery. But Connecticut businesses are facing higher taxes in the state budget, millions more in unemployment compensation taxes and charges, and proposals in the legislature that will raise costs even higher and make it harder to succeed here.
That certain proposals—such as mandatory paid sick leave and captive audience—are still being considered is already undercutting business confidence.
Here is a quick look at the good and the bad of proposals still alive in the legislature.
Open for Business
A few key proposals could strengthen Connecticut’s identity as a good place to do business.
Streamlining state government—Connecticut taxpayers are facing the biggest tax increase in the state’s history. The bipartisan Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes has many ideas (SB 1059) for reducing the size but increasing the effectiveness of government.
Brownfields redevelopment– HB 6526 would establish, among other things, incentives for private-sector investment in brownfield remediation including limiting liability for eligible developers, municipalities, and others who take ownership or control of the property that have no connection to the entity responsible for the contamination.
Concierge— HB 6316, awaiting action in the House, takes a first step toward making it easier for Connecticut companies to do business with state agencies. The business-portal, or concierge, idea is one that other states are already adopting.
Manufacturers Reinvestment Account– This program (originally contained in HB 6584), would make it easier for manufacturers to reinvest in their businesses so that they can expand their operations and workforces. Lawmakers and others are now negotiating a new legislative vehicle for this concept.
Closed for Business
Other proposals will set Connecticut back on the road to recovery and increase the perception that the state is closed to business.
Mandatory paid sick leave—This new business tax (SB 913) will cost employers in dollars, administrative burdens and lost productivity. No other state has this mandate—by itself a clear signal that this is not a wise idea.
Captive audience—Connecticut businesses are known for their teamwork, ingenuity and competitive adaptability. This mandate (HB 5460) is an employer gag order that stifles those qualities.
Healthcare mandates— One of the most significant healthcare cost drivers in Connecticut is the state’s high number of health benefit mandates—laws that require state-regulated insurance policies to cover certain medical procedures and services. If lawmakers want to reduce the cost of healthcare, they can start by limiting mandates.
Double damages–Penalizes employers by requiring them to pay twice the full amount of wages to an employee in a civil action to recover unpaid wages (SB 798). Connecticut judges already have the discretion to award double damages in cases where they determine that an employer acted in bad faith.
This is decision time for state legislators. Are they really pro-jobs? Will they adopt proposals to help Connecticut’s economy grow and create jobs again, or will they abandon their campaign pledges and take the state down a different path.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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