The Connecticut Business & Industry Association recently released its legislative priorities for 2015, calling on lawmakers to use the General Assembly session to unlock Connecticut’s “enormous economic potential.”
“State lawmakers need to view every legislative proposal through the lens of whether it will help or hurt Connecticut’s economic competitiveness,” CBIA President and CEO Joe Brennan said in a statement.
“Improving the state’s business climate means a stronger, more vibrant economy, and that’s possible if we control state spending, reduce business costs, continue to lean government, upgrade our aging transportation infrastructure and develop the next-generation workforce,” Brennan said. He said that over the last 20 years state spending has outgrown inflation, median household income and population growth and spending now outpaces revenue growth.
“We have enormous economic potential here, but for a variety of reasons we’re not reaching that potential,” he said. “We’re optimistic that if business and legislators work together in a bipartisan manner we can make Connecticut one of the best places to live and work.”
Since last year, the CBIA has been a strong proponent of the idea that Connecticut should compete economically among the nation’s top 20 states by 2017, working toward that goal with a program called CT20x17. The CBIA and more than 80 business, professional, and community groups are on board in support of the campaign.
“We have world-class companies that are the envy of other states and countries, a rich history of entrepreneurship and innovation that’s still going strong, a great location between New York and Boston, a great quality of life and — probably most important — a tremendous skilled workforce,” Brennan said. “However, if we fail to acknowledge the areas in which we are falling behind, our assets will eventually not matter anymore, because without opportunity, our workforce will leave, and without a strong economy, our quality of life will decline.
The CBIA, which bills itself as the state’s largest business organization, outlined its 2015 legislative priorities based on eight key issue areas:
• State spending: Balance the state’s new two-year budget without tax increases and borrowing, while continuing to make state government more efficient and effective.
• State taxes: Encourage economy-driving investments through a more competitive state tax policy.
• Transportation: Upgrade Connecticut’s roads, highways, rails and bridges by securing the Special Transportation Fund and restricting its use to transportation purposes.
• Education and workforce talent: Make sure education and workforce development systems provide employers with the talent needed for our current and future workforce.
• Government regulation: Make it easier for businesses to cut through red tape and comply with government regulations.
• Energy and technology: Reduce extraneous energy costs and increase access to diverse energy sources.
• Labor and employment: Reject any new mandates or proposals to increase workplace costs and stifle job creation.
• Health care: Reduce the cost of health care in Connecticut while improving value and quality.
Brennan noted that reaching those goals would not only improve Connecticut’s economy and generate job growth, but also help improve the state’s national business rankings.
“The CT20x17 goals are lofty, but they are achievable with collaboration from both sides of the political aisle. Our economy is not a Republican or Democratic issue — it affects all of us.”