Where’s Connecticut Headed? An Open Letter to Lawmakers.

Issues & Policies

Dear Connecticut lawmakers:

As the legislative session winds down I’m compelled to share with you my concerns for Connecticut.

For too many years, our state’s economic performance has trailed the region and most of the nation, and not by a small amount. In 2018, both our economic growth and job growth were about one-third of the U.S. as a whole. We have grown at only half the rate of the rest of New England.

Two recent independent reports underscore the severity of the problem. Bloomberg’s study of the impact of state out migration shows Connecticut loses the highest percentage of adjusted gross income than any state in the country—1.6% of AGI—confirming concerns about wealth leaving the state.

A Pew Charitable Trust study may be even more alarming. Pew reports Connecticut is tied with Mississippi among the 50 states for the lowest rate of personal income growth since the beginning of the 2008-2010 recession. Although we have generally high personal income, that anemic growth points to an economy that has underperformed for too long.

This is unacceptable. The state we love and call home has so many advantages—from a world-class workforce and world-class companies to a great location and top-tier quality of life. It makes it all the more troubling and frustrating that we are lagging rather than leading the rest of the country in growth.

Take a hard look at where we are. The numbers don’t lie.

Given the talent we have here, Connecticut should be a leader in many of the areas where we trail, but too often policy choices hold us back.

My concerns for Connecticut are compounded by the General Assembly’s direction. There are way too many bills progressing through the legislature that will, quite frankly, make it harder rather than easier for companies to keep and add jobs here. This is particularly true for small businesses.

Not a day goes by when I don’t hear from a small business owner, often a small manufacturer—possibly from your district—about the impact that a steeply higher minimum wage and an expansive paid FMLA bill will have on their ability to continue operating here.

Do we really want to make it harder for these types of companies to compete and employ people here?

When you add to that the prospect of a captive audience bill, a so-called “public option,” higher taxes and fees, and other regulatory and administrative burdens, it’s time to ask, where is Connecticut headed?

Do we accept continued slow growth? Do we accept recurring budget deficits?

Do we accept continued slow growth into the future? Do we accept recurring budget deficits because we don’t have enough economic growth to bring in sufficient tax revenues?

I know you have enormous challenges and many competing constituencies. But I ask you to take a hard look at where we are. Numbers don’t lie.

On behalf of small employers across Connecticut, and the large companies making location decisions every day, I ask that in the last few days of the session you reject measures that make it more difficult to keep good jobs here.

The people of Connecticut can’t afford to trail the nation any longer.

Joe Brennan
President & CEO, CBIA


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