Connecticut’s business community sees solving the state’s seemingly ever-present fiscal crisis as key to economic recovery in the new legislative session. But the Connecticut Business and Industry Association is also focused on a couple of specific priorities for lawmakers.
The landscape will look a little different under the golden dome as the session gets underway on Wednesday, said Joe Brennan, the CBIA's President and CEO.
“Having a tie in the senate for the first time in over 100 years and the closest margins in the house in many years, it’s really going to be incumbent upon legislators to work together, get the best ideas from both sides of the aisle," said Brennan. "Our members feel that is where the best legislation comes from."
As it has for the last few years, the state budget deficit is going to dominate, and Brennan said getting to a point where we have fiscal stability is key to providing a predictable business climate and growing the economy.
“If we have any kind of sizeable tax increase on individuals or businesses, I’m afraid we’ll drive wealth and jobs out of Connecticut,” he said.
Brennan sees the recent deal reached between state unions and the governor’s office as a necessary first step, but he’s still looking for more sustainable ways of restructuring the state’s longterm pension and benefit obligations.
He also wants more strategic cuts and more efficient ways of delivering government, though he recognizes the state must focus on its key services.
“We haven’t been able to invest adequately in transportation," said Brennan. "I don’t think we’ve been able to invest adequately in our cities, as well as education. But the problem is, in order to raise revenue, you really have to raise revenue through economic growth and not additional tax increases."
In addition to the larger structural issues, CBIA also wants to see legislation expanding manufacturing apprenticeship tax credits; a way to incentivize companies to invest in workforce development, and help shepherd the recent renaissance in advanced manufacturing.
The CBIA will also resist calls for increases in unemployment taxes. Instead it wants to see Connecticut reduce benefits in line with other states as a way to boost the solvency of the system, and reduce costs on employers.