State’s Business Climate: What Voters Say

Issues & Policies

An overwhelming majority of Connecticut voters are concerned about the state’s economy and business climate based on the results of a new poll released today.
Three-quarters of voters surveyed by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll described the state’s economy as “not so good” or “poor” (an 11-point jump since March), with 24% saying it was good.
Q-Poll_101415.pngAnd 72% believed that Connecticut’s business climate was not so good or poor, while 26% said it was good or excellent.
Voters also were lukewarm about the state’s economic prospects.
Almost half (48%) believe Connecticut’s economy will remain the same, 41% think conditions are worsening (a 16-point jump since March), and 10% said it’s getting better (down from 22% in March).
That’s despite a summer of steady job gains and an unemployment rate that’s fallen to 5.4%. However, Connecticut’s economy grew 0.6% in 2014, while the New England economy grew 1.6%, and the national economy, 2.2%.
Budget fallout?
Just 8% of voters told the Q-Poll that the state’s business climate is improving, with 45% believing it remains unchanged, and 45% saying it’s getting worse.
The poll is Quinnipiac’s first measurement of voter sentiment since the General Assembly narrowly passed a new state budget June 30.
That budget featured the second-largest tax hike in state history–four years after the legislature approved Connecticut’s largest-ever tax increase.
The June 30 vote rolled back more than $150 million in business tax hikes (after Governor Dannel Malloy first proposed about $220 million in rollbacks) included in the original budget package adopted earlier in the month.
Lawmakers reopened the budget following widespread criticism, including rare public comments from a number of large Connecticut-based companies.
The budget debate led General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt to form an internal team charged with finding options for moving its headquarters out of Connecticut to a state with “a more pro-business environment.”
The Q-Poll found that 82% of voters were concerned that GE may leave Connecticut. If GE does leave, 80% of those surveyed said they would blame the state’s business climate for that decision.
Overall direction
In terms of the state’s overall direction, only 36% of voters said they were satisfied, while 63% said they were somewhat or very dissatisified.
That represents a big change since March, when 47% said they were satisfied and 53% said they were dissatisfied.
A third of those surveyed said the economy was the most important problem facing Connecticut today; 28% nominated taxes as the biggest issue; 11% said it was the budget; 4% said education; and 3% said transportation.
Voter approval for state lawmakers was just 27% (a 12 percentage point drop since March), with 57% disapproving of the way the legislature is performing (15% either didn’t answer or didn’t know).
When asked if they were better off financially than they were a year ago, 44% said they were worse off (up eight points since March), 31% said better, and 24% responded that their financial situation remained unchanged.
Economic summit
The day before the poll results were announced, CBIA, the Connecticut AFL-CIO, and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities jointly announced a November 12-13 economic summit to develop solutions to the state’s economic and fiscal challenges.
CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan said those issues were a catalyst for bringing the three organizations together, despite a history of often being on opposite sides of policy debates.
“We know the state of Connecticut has some really big challenges going forward, both from a fiscal standpoint and from an infrastructure standpoint,” he told the Hartford Courant.
“If we just continue to butt heads on everything, we’re just going to continue the … cycle of not having any forward progress.
“This gives us an opportunity to explore some discussions in a different environment with different partners at the table, on how we can all work together to see more growth in Connecticut.”


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