The Connecticut General Assembly concluded a turbulent and protracted 2017 regular session with a rare achievement: a two-year budget forged through bipartisan effort and approved by a clear majority of lawmakers.
Its reforms will begin to put the state on a path toward fiscal stability, although challenges remain.
As the short 2018 session begins, the focus at the state Capitol must be jobs—training for them, filling them, and creating an economic climate that grows them.
State lawmakers must continue cooperating with a focus on building Connecticut's workforce by:
- SUPPLYING manufacturers with the talent to fill the estimated 13,000 jobs in companies large and small
- REJECTING costly and complex workplace rules and taxes that make job retention and creation more expensive
- INSISTING that state technical high schools and community colleges expand faculty pools with real world experience, as called for in legislation last year
The tools are there. The mission is clear:
Make Jobs Job One of the 2018 Legislative Session
Lawmakers can solve a lot of problems by putting more residents to work. They must provide a consistent revenue base that encourages stable budgets.
They cannot adopt laws that impede job growth or discourage companies from investing here. And they must help grow the workforce through job training.
Sustainable State Spending & Tax Policy
- Stabilize long-term finances by adopting the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth recommendations that reform state pensions and collective bargaining.
- Reject harmful tax hikes, and expand budget reforms enacted in 2017.
- Remove barriers blocking municipalities from sharing services and collaborating.
- Implement Lean management efforts at major state agencies.
- Expand the use of nonprofit health and human service providers.
- Explore other functions of state government to privatize.
Education & Workforce Development
- Increase apprenticeship programs and incentives for employers.
- Strengthen training programs in correctional facilities to grow the state's manufacturing workforce.
- Streamline teacher certification and expand the number of alternative routes to certification.
- Develop a common framework for evaluating workforce development programs to ensure efficacy and alignment with the state's economic development goals.
Labor & Employment
- Make long overdue benefit reforms to restore solvency to the state's Unemployment Trust Fund.
- Ensure state wage and hour laws and regulations are more consistent with federal law.
- Allow employers to suspend without pay salaried workers who violate workplace violence or harassment policies, as they do now for nonsalaried employees.
- Ensure recommendations from the Governor's Committee on Climate Change and/or the new Comprehensive Energy Strategy don't increase the state's high energy costs.
- Keep directing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy projects to private, market-based approaches to ensure the jobs provided are less reliant on ratepayer subsidies and less vulnerable to budget pressures.
- Expedite environmental permits required for business starts, expansion, or new product development.
- Achieve the state's recycling goals by focusing on consumer education and behavior, with fewer burdens on manufacturers or retailers.
- Update Connecticut's hazardous waste regulations to mirror federal rules.
- Have state agencies provide penalty relief for first-time violations of laws or regulations that don't threaten human health or the environment.
- Work with businesses and state agencies to address the regulated community's priority concerns.
- Dedicate and protect a sustainable, affordable transportation funding stream.
- Enlist the private sector to expedite planning and completion of priority projects.
Healthcare & Bioscience
- Shape healthcare policy using innovative best practices that reduce costs and increase quality and access.
- Conduct a cost-benefit analysis before passing any new health benefit mandate.
- Implement an economic development strategy that addresses critical obstacles to growth identified by bioscience and technology employers, including access to venture capital.