One of Connecticut’s weakest competitive links is an aging transportation infrastructure, but the state’s fiscal situation prevented the legislature from making many of the investments critical to fixing the problem.
Lawmakers did take some steps, however, that could reap economic rewards over time.
Most important, the budget-implementer bill (HB 5597) grants approval of the Department of Transportation’s five-year plan to improve the state's transportation infrastructure.
DOT intends to upgrade highways, bridges, and bus and rail systems in the state to boost economic development, reduce commute times and create thousands of construction jobs. Among other things, the bill includes funding for 33 new DOT engineers to facilitate those projects.
The legislature created a port authority to help develop Connecticut’s seaports and increase their economic impact (HB 5289). Businesses supported the measure because it could help widen the flow of commerce to the state and make it more competitive.
Connecticut is one of the few states that tax not only the purchase of a product or service but also what it costs to bring the product to the purchaser. Shipping, delivery, and fuel surcharges are all subject to the state’s sales tax, which creates a competitive disadvantage.
HB 5462 would have exempted the delivery portion from the state’s sales tax. And while the Transportation Committee held a public hearing on the issue, the measure subsequently died in the Finance Committee.
CBIA intends to raise this issue again as part of any future state tax reform effort.
Because one of the sources of revenue most often raided during times of state budget difficulties—including the present situation--is the Special Transportation Fund, a resolution (SJR 23) was offered to change the state constitution and stop the practice.
Unfortunately, with the latest budget problems and more deficits on the horizon, lawmakers chose not to take on the resolution and it died in the Senate.
Under HB 5461, the state’s airport authority would have been given more independence by helping it cut through red tape.
The proposal gave the authority an exemption from complying with certain employment policies and procedures from the state’s Departments of Administrative Service and the Office of Policy and Management.
Unfortunately, the measure failed to progress beyond the House.