The 2021 Connecticut General Assembly session delivered a strong platform for driving the state’s post-pandemic recovery, the state’s largest business organization said today.
CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the session addressed most of the organization’s Rebuilding Connecticut policy priorities, designed as a roadmap for job creation and economic growth.
“From a state budget with no broad-based tax hikes, to significant targeted investments in our cities, workforce development, and childcare, to historic unemployment reforms—this session sets the course for the state’s recovery,” DiPentima said.
“We called for a change in thinking before the session began, for real collaboration and bipartisanship, so we can capitalize on the state’s many strengths and not only restore our economy, but make it more robust than ever.
“Overall, there are numerous reasons to be optimistic about the state’s future based on the actions the legislature and the Lamont administration took over the last five-plus months and the broad range of favorable economic news that is shifting the wind to our backs.”
DiPentima praised Gov. Ned Lamont and legislators from both sides of the aisle who spoke out against proposed tax hikes.
“We’ll finish this year with a $500 million surplus, a record rainy day fund, and billions in federal relief dollars,” he said. “We’re grateful that so many policymakers recognized that and resisted proposals that would undermine our economic recovery.
“We’re also grateful for the level of bipartisanship within the legislature this year, for the willingness to collaborate with the business community and other groups, and for the readiness of key legislative voices to speak out on critical economic and fiscal issues.”
In addition to avoiding tax hikes, DiPentima said state budget highlights included the allocation of $155 million to help resolve the unemployment fund debt crisis and restoration of the R&D tax credit to 70% of liability.
He said employers were disappointed that lawmakers elected to maintain the temporary 10% corporate tax surcharge, delay repeal of the capital base tax, retain the sales tax on personal protective equipment and training, and not restore the pass-through entity tax credit.
DiPentima called the unemployment reform bill, which passed both the state House and Senate unanimously and had the support of the administration, labor unions, and employers, “the most significant set of reforms in the history of the state’s unemployment system.”
"These reforms will help drive the state's post-pandemic economic recovery, easing financial uncertainty, preventing future tax hikes and assessments on employers to cover fund shortfalls, and strengthening our workforce,” he said.
“Such comprehensive reforms show what we can accomplish when the public and private sectors collaborate and develop solutions that benefit a wide range of stakeholders.”
Eric Gjede, CBIA’s vice president of government affairs, thanked the bipartisan group of 55 state lawmakers who signed the organization’s Rebuilding Connecticut pledge for following through by supporting those policy priorities throughout the session.
“Businesses are playing a critical role as the state continues to navigate the pandemic,” Gjede said. “There was real recognition of that this year and a focus on addressing the critical issues impacting the recovery, the state’s competitiveness, and the particular need to support small businesses.
“The legislature’s adoption of many of those policy priorities will help employers manage the high costs of navigating COVID-19 restrictions, create and retain jobs, and lead the state’s economic recovery and growth for the benefit of all residents."
Gjede cited the lack of broad support for a series of costly proposed workplace mandates as another indication of a shift in tone at the state Capitol, with a greater understanding among lawmakers of the role businesses play in the state’s recovery.
“That was apparent in the debate over expanding state-run healthcare through the proposed public option,” Gjede said.
“That proposal failed as lawmakers were not willing to put taxpayers and small businesses at risk.
“We also saw that same pragmatic approach during the debate over legalizing recreational marijuana, with the inclusion of workplace safety protections in that legislation, ensuring that employers can continue to maintain safe work environments.”
DiPentima said the state faces “numerous challenges in the months and years ahead,” as it recovers from the pandemic.
“From the very beginning of this session CBIA advocated for bipartisan solutions for rebuilding our state and we are committed to continue working with policymakers to sustain this positive momentum,” he said.
“We cannot lose sight of what’s important. We must continue the fiscal discipline of recent years that has seen revenue growth, a healthy rainy day fund, and recognition from Wall Street through upgrades to the state’s credit rating.
“We must continue to fuel economic growth through policies that nurture businesses and the opportunities they create for our communities and all of our residents, as the pandemic highlighted.
“And let’s make sure we continue attracting residents and businesses to the state, taking full advantage of the competitive advantages New York and Massachusetts are giving us through their tax policies.”
CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with thousands of member companies, small and large, representing a diverse range of industries from every part of the state. For more information, please email or call Joe Budd (860.244.1951).