What Will Legislators Do to Boost Connecticut’s Economy?
Jobs and a stronger economy are what voters want state policymakers to focus on, what Connecticut needs–and what competitor states are moving more quickly to address.
Last week, New York State passed major tax relief for manufacturers and all businesses and Massachusetts continued to move forward on significant unemployment compensation tax help for Bay State businesses.
Also recently, two-thirds of Connecticut voters responding to the latest Quinnipiac University poll said jobs and the economy should be lawmakers’ top priority.
So how have our state legislators reacted to those developments and how are they doing on improving Connecticut’s economy as the 2014 session of the General Assembly moves into its final three weeks?
Some of the answers are promising, with progress is being made in some key issues. But on other issues, good opportunities to move Connecticut up the competitive ladder are still being missed—so far.
Moving Connecticut up is the reason for a new campaign supported by CBIA and more than 50 other leading business and professional organizations across the state. The CT20x17 campaign specifically is aimed at improving Connecticut’s competitiveness and making the state a top 20 state for business in national rankings by the year 2017.
With three-plus weeks left to the 2014 session, there’s still time for lawmakers to adopt proposals that would make Connecticut’s economy more competitive, and reject others that will harm that effort.
High costs and a burdensome regulatory environment are among the biggest competitive hurdles to doing business in Connecticut. Much work is needed on both in order to significantly improve the state’s economy and national business climate rankings.
Yet the legislature passed another hike in the state’s minimum wage this year, and legislators are still considering another costly mandate on many businesses–to administer a new, state-run retirement savings plan for their employees (SB 249).
What’s more, despite facing ever-increasing healthcare costs, employers are looking at the possibility of another new tax as contained in SB 21.
Rejecting these new tax, mandate and discrimination-complaint measures would help improve Connecticut’s economy and business-friendliness. That’s what the Appropriations Committee did, by deciding not to advance a potentially costly proposal to expand the state’s family and medical leave (HB 5283).
Also before legislators this year are some measures that can prevent Connecticut’s competitive rankings from slipping any further–and a few that could help move us up the ladder.
Some of the biggest cost factors facing businesses are for workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation. HB 5314 gives Connecticut employers some much-needed relief from their unemployment compensation tax burden, and SB 61 will prevent workers’ compensation costs from skyrocketing.
Manufacturers and other small and midsize businesses in Connecticut would benefit from two proposals designed to help them grow. The bills extend certain state tax credits to pass-through organizations, including SB 303 which expands the state’s research and development (R&D) tax credits, and SB 420, which allows access to the state’s apprenticeship tax credit.
And some commonsense fixes to the state’s paid sick leave law are contained in HB 5269—changes that won’t affect the benefit itself, but will help businesses comply with the mandate.
What our state lawmakers do in the next few weeks on these and other issues will send a message not only to Connecticut businesses, but also to businesses and governments in other states, about our commitment to being as competitive as possible.
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