The business community is disappointed that the 2011 legislative session didn’t improve Connecticut’s economic competitiveness or help create a climate in which businesses are more willing to invest and create jobs.

“It’s discouraging that the concerns of Connecticut residents and employers regarding jobs were not addressed,” said John Rathgeber, CBIA president and CEO.

“Both clearly identified the economy and jobs as their top priorities, but the legislature failed to put us on a path that would improve Connecticut’s ability to attract and retain jobs.”

Instead, lawmakers passed a nearly $2 billion tax hike -- biggest in Connecticut history -- which significantly hurts small and midsize businesses counted on to drive economic growth.

They also made Connecticut the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave on certain businesses, regardless of whether they can afford it.

The new administration and Democratic-controlled legislature did little to reform state government. Instead, their budget increases spending and raises taxes more than originally proposed, and relies on union concessions not yet ratified by state employees.

On a positive note, legislators passed an energy reform bill to help lower Connecticut’s electricity rates, a bill to help attract private-sector investment to revitalize abandoned or contaminated brownfields, and a bill changing the governance of Bradley International Airport to help make it more competitive.

Lawmakers also did not move forward with a healthcare proposal that would have created a large state bureaucracy to administer health insurance under a public option.

“Still, the fact that the legislature considers so many anti-business bills each year continues to reinforce the perception that Connecticut is not a business-friendly state,” said Rathgeber.

“We need to take actions to renew business confidence so that our employers will invest in Connecticut and grow their companies and jobs. We also need to attract new businesses to the state.”

CBIA appreciates the Republicans and those Democrats who understand that the economy and jobs are Connecticut’s top priorities, and who responded to the call by supporting a pro-jobs agenda to meet the challenges of the future. 

Policymakers should speak with their local businesspeople in advance of this fall’s special session on jobs, to hear firsthand about the issues facing private-sector employers.

They must listen to the people who make investments and create jobs in the state and act on their concerns to fulfill the promise that Connecticut is open for business.

CBIA looks forward to working with the administration and leaders in both parties to help shape an agenda that will address business concerns and get Connecticut back on track.