New Group Sets Out to Improve State’s Business Climate
A new state commission this week started on its mission to make Connecticut more economically competitive.
Despite Connecticut’s powerful assets—such as headquarters companies, great communities and quality of life, and one of the most talented workforces in the nation—the state is not viewed as one of the friendliest to job creators.
Even state lawmakers themselves admitted as much when this year they saw the need to create a permanent Commission on Economic Competitiveness.
They’ll have to roll up their sleeves, says CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan, a member of the commission.
Connecticut has enormous economic potential, he said, “But we’ve got challenges that are keeping us from getting the traction we need to be as successful as we should be.”
Specifically, the job of the new commission is to analyze the implications of state tax policy on business and industry and develop policies that promote economic growth.
Conditions in the state have developed such that major Connecticut employers are reconsidering their commitment to the state.
The tax policy most in question before the panel is the new wave of tax increases on job creators that lawmakers approved during the June special session.
These are the tax hikes that businesses strongly opposed and said would have a negative impact on Connecticut’s economy and jobs.
Lawmakers heard the concerns of the business community and launched the commission.
The group must:
- Examine and report on the impact of the tax revisions contained in the new state budget on Connecticut businesses and industry
- Study what large and small businesses and industries need to maintain their competitiveness
- Offer legislative proposals promoting the growth and prosperity of state businesses and industries, including recommendations relating to state tax policy
Economic momentum is building in Connecticut, with some experts expecting that in 2016 the state will have recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession.
But results of a new statewide survey of businesses showed that employers said that the tax hikes enacted this year are both a big concern and evidence that state lawmakers are out of touch.
Finding solutions and creating a better path is on the commission’s docket. Brennan says CBIA is happy to have a seat at the commission’s table.
“We need to keep reminding ourselves that Connecticut is a great place to do business, and that if we make better policy choices we can restore confidence and make our state stronger and more competitive.
The commission, which is to meet monthly, includes:
- State Rep. William Tong (D-Stamford), co-chair
- Joseph McGee, vice president, Business Council of Fairfield County, co-chair
- DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith
- DRS Commissioner Kevin Sullivan
- Joe Brennan, president and CEO, CBIA
- Steven Glazer, economics professor, Norwalk Community College (NCC)
- Jeffrey Hyde, senior state tax counsel, IBM.
- Lori Pelletier, president, Connecticut AFL-CIO
- Seth Harold Ruzi, vice president and associate counsel, Starwood Hotels and Resorts
- Ellen Shemitz, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children Heather Somers, business owner and former GOP nominee for lieutenant governor
- Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-Fairfield)
- Rodney Williams, owner, Mr. Rock Drywall, LLC
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