Will Legislature Make Connecticut’s Economy Stronger?

Issues & Policies

Less than two months remain in the 2013 session of the General Assembly and what lawmakers do from now until they adjourn at midnight, June 5, will go a long way toward determining if Connecticut will become stronger and more competitive.

Employers are looking for a clear signal that the time and conditions are right to create more jobs and increase their investments in the state.

Business confidence in the state is low, and job creation is stuck in neutral, reflecting an economy that’s struggling and state finances that are out of balance. We’ve regained fewer than half the jobs lost during a recession that technically ended two years ago.

Still on the legislative table this year are dozens of proposals impacting businesses in workplace costs and regulations, healthcare costs, energy and environmental regulations.

A few could improve conditions for employers, making it easier and less costly to do business in Connecticut. Many other proposals, unfortunately, would accomplish just the opposite.

So, what should lawmakers do from now until June 5?

The Biggest Issue

The biggest signal for businesses will be what happens with the state budget. We’re facing a combined, projected deficit of more than $2 billion over the next two years, even after the state’s largest tax increase ($1.5 billion) in 2011.

A bipartisan effort on a new state budget that avoids more increases in taxes and fees, avoids extending taxes set to expire, and takes strides toward making government more effective and efficient would go a long way to inspire business confidence.

Lawmakers have at their disposal the recommendations of the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, numerous state commissions, CBIA, and others on ways to control the budget’s biggest cost-drivers, such as long-term healthcare, corrections, and state employee retiree benefits. To his credit, Gov. Malloy this year called for all state agencies to implement lean principles to streamline their operations.

Deadlines for the budget-writing Appropriations (spending) and Finance (revenues) committees are April 23 and April 24, respectively.

Positive Potential

Some legislative proposals, outlined below, could improve the state’s business climate.

  • SB 1007makes some commonsense improvements to the state’s mandatory paid sick leave law; SB 1074 controls workers’ compensation costs by allowing employers and insurers to continue the practice of negotiating with hospitals based on the actual costs for medical charges.
  • Building up Connecticut’s skilled workforce is a huge issue for many businesses, especially manufacturers. This week, the legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus urged support for several proposals (see related story), and HB 5018 provides a tax credit for businesses providing scholarships for manufacturing training programs.   
  • Programs from the special jobs session of 2011 continue to help Connecticut businesses grow. For businesses stretching out to new foreign markets,SB 1004 gives them preference for Small Business Express loans and grants. SB 390 allows small businesses that are pass-through entities to participate in the DECD’s job creation tax credit program.  
  • On energy costs, SB 1138 takes steps to make Connecticut’s renewable energy portfolio standards more attainable and less costly. HB 6472 makes more commercial and industrial energy investments eligible for state financing under the C-PACE program.
  • Improving Connecticut’s regulatory climate is key for many businesses. SB 814 makes an important improvement in the environmental permitting process, and SB 1006 helps businesses by requiring greater clarity from state government in enforcement actions.

Boosting business confidence will not only require passing these positive measures this year but staying away from those that are harmful.

Virtually every legislator ran last fall on a jobs platform. It is time for them to keep their word to their constituents and only support bills that will strengthen Connecticut’s economy and improve the climate for job creation.

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests

The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.