CBIA Outlines 2013 Legislative Priorities, Warns of Rising Government Spending

The state's largest business organization today urged lawmakers to take decisive action during the 2013 General Assembly to boost Connecticut's struggling economic recovery and stimulate job growth.

"It's now been five years since the recession began and two years since it technically ended," said John R. Rathgeber, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. "It's time to work together and resolve the state's serious economic and fiscal challenges."

Rathgeber urged policymakers to address state government spending, which has surged 153 percent since 1992, far outpacing growth in inflation, population, and median household income.

"Setting appropriate spending priorities and efficiently using state tax dollars will energize business investment," he said. "If we're going to fix our economy, we must deal with our fiscal issues without further increases in taxes and fees.

"Only by improving Connecticut's competiveness can good jobs be created and sustained. And that starts with giving employers the confidence to increase their investments in the state and grow their businesses here."

In releasing its 2013 Government Affairs Program, CBIA outlined a series of recommendations for this year's legislative session, which convened yesterday and runs through June 5:

  • State spending. Adopt a two-year budget that reduces the size and cost of government while improving its effectiveness without new tax or fee increases. Goals include implementing reforms recommended by the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, adopting best practices from other states to reduce spending and improve government services, and negotiate additional modifications to state employee retiree benefits.
  • State taxes. Make state tax policy simpler, fairer, and more predictable to help drive our economy by promoting business investment, jobs, innovation, and productivity. Specific steps include clarifying the manufacturing exemption for mixed-use businesses and repairs, phasing out the corporate income tax surcharge as planned, and ending the 70% cap on corporate tax credits for research and development.
  • Energy. Promote a comprehensive energy policy that provides our economy with reliable, diverse, and affordable power. Lawmakers should implement aspects of the state's new Comprehensive Energy Strategy that reduce costs for manufacturers and other businesses and allow greater flexibility to meet the state's Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Healthcare. Reduce costs while increasing quality and access by reducing existing health benefit mandates, rejecting future mandates, and encouraging competition and a level playing field by offering employers more choice within and outside the state's new healthcare exchange.
  • Environment. Better align environmental laws, regulations, and policies with economic development goals. Key goals include clear, reasonable cleanup standards that promote economic development and continuing to encourage private-sector development of brownfields.
  • Labor and employment. Remove barriers to job creation by controlling business costs and reducing administrative burdens. CBIA's recommendations include modifying the paid sick leave law so employers can administer it more effectively, controlling workers' compensation and unemployment compensation costs, and rejecting captive audience and card check proposals.
  • Corporate governance and liability. Make Connecticut's corporate laws consistent with those of competitor states, including updating state antitrust laws.
  • Education and workforce development. Implement the landmark education reforms passed last year to improve education, close the achievement gap, and strengthen workforce readiness. Key goals include streamlining certification programs to attract and retain qualified teachers and administrators, increase the number of available pre-K opportunities, and expand manufacturing internships.
  • Transportation. Upgrade infrastructures through strategic, priority investments. Steps include working with the Connecticut Airport Authority to ensure that the state achieves the full potential of our airports, and a strategic plan to bring all roads and bridges into good repair.
  • Manufacturing. Adopt policies that allow manufacturers to grow, create jobs, and drive economic recovery. CBIA urges policymakers to support the state's manufacturers through commonsense improvements in education, environmental, tax, and economic development policies.

Joseph F. Brennan, CBIA senior vice president for public policy, said those priorities recognized Connecticut's strength as a home to innovative companies, with high value-added products and services produced by a highly skilled, well-paid workforce.

"Without a strategy to address spending and long-term liabilities, we're looking at a dramatic reduction in the quality of life for all Connecticut citizens," Brennan said. "Failing to create a more competitive Connecticut makes us less attractive to much-needed investment and risks a future of low-cost, less productive industries with declining wages and benefits."

Download CBIA's detailed 2013 legislative and regulatory program or contact Joe Budd (860.244.1951; joe.budd@cbia.com) for a copy.

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CBIA is Connecticut's largest business organization, with 10,000 member companies. For more information, please contact Joe Budd (860.244.1951; joe.budd@cbia.com) or visit CBIA's Newsroom.