State lawmakers finished the 2010 legislative session by passing historic education and regulatory reforms, along with a jobs bill, that will move the state forward.
However, they also approved a massive energy bill that could cost ratepayers millions. And while a $19 billion budget revision has no direct tax increases, legislators failed to address structural changes needed to address long-term budget deficits in future years.
“Legislators took several positive steps to help improve our economy, public education, and the regulatory climate in Connecticut, which will make the state a more attractive place for business investment and job creation. But they did little to secure the state’s fiscal health,” said John Rathgeber, CBIA president and CEO.
“They borrowed money, deferred payments, increased spending and relied on federal stimulus funds to close more than half of the remaining 2011 deficit.
“The next legislature must address the state’s long-term fiscal problems by reforming state government to make it smaller, less expensive and more effective in order to meet the challenges of the future.”
Among the bills that will help Connecticut’s economy and jobs:
- Regulatory reform: The landmark regulatory reform bill protects environmental quality, while streamlining the permitting process and improving the efficiency of the Department of Environmental Protection.
- Education: A major education bill will help close the achievement gap in public education in the state and make high school courses more rigorous to better prepare students for college and/or the workforce. Another bill will help improve the state’s vocational technical high schools.
- Economic development: A bill that will help Connecticut’s small businesses includes a small-business assistance revolving loan program, angel investor program, a pilot program to help manufacturers implement green and lean strategies, and a loan forgiveness program for Connecticut graduates pursuing careers in green technology, life science, or health information technology.
CBIA applauds the Rell administration and legislature for supporting these bills that will help move Connecticut forward. The education bills will bring real reform to the state’s high schools, in order to build and maintain a highly-skilled workforce for the 21st century and position the state to win this year’s round of Race to the Top federal education funding.
Legislators did, however, pass a massive energy bill that will dramatically increase the already high cost of electricity for Connecticut ratepayers—by up to $200 million a year—and expand state government’s role in electricity markets.
Because Connecticut already has among the highest electricity rates in the country, ratepayers can’t afford this kind of legislation--they need relief, not an expansion of state government or further increases in their bills. CBIA will ask the governor to veto the bill.
Several mandates that would have hurt all businesses, the economy, and jobs were not called for votes. They included mandatory paid time off, several harmful tax measures, and workers’ compensation proposals.
Although it is good that these bills were not called, the fact that legislators consider so many anti-jobs bills each year reinforces the perception that Connecticut is not a business-friendly state.
“We appreciate Gov. Rell and those legislators who understand that the economy and jobs are the top priority and responded to the call by supporting a pro-jobs agenda,” said Rathgeber.