Cautious Welcome For Jobs Bill | Connecticut Public Radio

Cautious Welcome For Jobs Bill

Oct 28, 2011

Business organizations in the state have given a qualified welcome to the jobs legislation that passed the General Assembly this week. As WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports, it’s been dubbed a “good first step.”

The jobs bill, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, shifts the state’s focus on economic development. It aims to support small businesses with grant and loan programs, and it gives tax credits for hiring. It also puts a new emphasis on workforce development, attempting to replicate best practice, especially on manufacturing training. Joe Brennan of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

“Job training, workforce development issues, again, largely focused on manufacturing, because as I know the Governor has heard, and we have heard, a lot of advanced manufacturers are having trouble finding people, even with a nine percent unemployment rate.”

The bill reduces the tax burden on small businesses somewhat, cutting the business entity tax in half. Andrew Markowski of the National Federation of Small Business says he welcomes that but it’s not comprehensive enough.

“What we’ve been saying the state needs is broad based, across the board tax reform that’s going to benefit all small businesses. Some of the other tax provisions in the bill last night focused more on tax credits for job creation, which are certainly welcome, but it remains to be seen whether a tax credit alone is enough to incentivize a small business owner to hire.”

Both organizations approve of the attempt in the bill to streamline regulation and cut permitting times for businesses. Andrew Markowski says he hopes it will induce a culture change

“What it really comes down to is small business owners are the customer or the client of state government. State government agencies exist to serve those clients, whether it be small business owners or citizens.”

But he says this $626 million bipartisan package of measures can only be a first step.

“Connecticut hasn’t seen any net new job growth in over 20 years, so while this problem certainly has been festering for a while, it’s foolish to think it can be cured in one night, or with one piece of legislation. There needs to be a concentrated, sustained effort.”

Joe Brennan of the CBIA says more than any single measure perhaps the most encouraging thing about the bill was the process through which it was written, during a series of bipartisan meetings.

“The fact that the Governor reached across the aisle and got ideas from both the Republican side and the Democratic side – if that continues going forward, then I think that’s a very good sign for Connecticut.”

And he says he hopes the legislature and the executive branch can change the conversation about economic development in the state.

“Our economy discussions in Connecticut have largely turned into a zero-sum game, that if somebody wins somebody else has to lose. If business wins, labor looses, or if labor wins, business looses. And we have I think lost sight of what we really have to do to nurture an economy that could benefit everybody.”

For WNPR, I'm Harriet Jones.