The 2014 General Assembly took some steps toward improving Connecticut’s economic competitiveness but did not address sufficiently many of the barriers to growing the state’s economy.

“While we saw some modest progress this session, we are not aggressively attacking those areas that hurt our ability to attract much- needed private investments that lead to job creation,” said John Rathgeber, CBIA president and CEO.

"We have to be mindful that other states, including several in our region, are actively improving their business climates to attract the very investments that we want to attract to Connecticut," he added.

Positive measures

Among the measures approved this session to help the state’s economy and business climate are those:

·         Creating a Manufacturing Innovation Fund to help manufacturers with capital, workforce and other needs improve their competitive position

·         Providing training assistance, particularly for manufacturing apprentices

·         Approving an agreement to solidify Connecticut’s standing as a leader in aerospace research, development and manufacturing  

·         Creating the Connecticut Port Authority to enhance usage of the state’s deepwater ports

·         Preventing escalation of workers’ compensation-related hospital charges

·         Making administrative fixes to the state's paid sick leave law

Harmful measures

CBIA worked with Republican and Democrat lawmakers to defeat or amend other costly measures that threatened the state's economic competitiveness, including a large number of workplace, employment and healthcare mandates.

However, the outcome of many of those harmful measures wasn’t determined until the very last days of the session.

What’s more, the beginning of the session was marked by legislation raising the state's minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017, despite strong opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers.

Also of concern are falling revenues and looming state budget deficits. Lawmakers had to scramble in the final week to plug a new, $285 million hole in the budget for fiscal year 2015, and a greater deficit is projected for fiscal year 2016.

Greater urgency

The challenge is that while Connecticut makes some incremental changes—and continues to battle large deficits—many of our regional neighbors, including New York and Massachusetts, are moving forward with greater urgency to attract the business investment and jobs.

Public opinion polls have shown that Connecticut voters want elected officials to focus on jobs and the economy.   

"This is much more than a business issue—a strong, growing economy means more opportunities for good, well paying jobs,” said Rathgeber. It means protecting our quality of life and guaranteeing a brighter future for generations to come."

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 | | @CBIAbonnie