Less than 24 hours before the start of the 2010 legislative session, Democratic lawmakers held a half-hour press conference Tuesday afternoon to talk about how they will improve the economy and grow jobs in the state.
But with a $515 million budget deficit can they afford to make the investments they say need to be made?
The plan released by the “Job Growth Roundtable” is recommending putting $12 million on the state’s credit card to support business start-ups, $7 to $10 million to create an angel investor network, and redirecting already established tax credits to invest in clean technologies and energy innovations.
“We need to make Connecticut competitive again,“ House Majority Leader Denise Merrill, D-Mansfield, said.
She said the state needs to be the catalyst for this type of economic development.
Many of the recommendations can be done at no cost to the state and many use small amounts of money that will help leverage private investment, Merrill said.
However, the state is on the verge of blowing through its credit card limit.
“We can’t sit back and let nothing happen,” Merrill said.
When asked what state bonding projects may get scaled back in order to pay for these new investments, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee looks at the state’s borrowing every year and this year is no different.
He joked that it would look first at bonding approved for Republican districts before looking at every lawmakers district.
Merrill said she did invite Republican lawmakers to be part of the discussion, but their participation “fell by the wayside.”
She said it may have been a Democratic initiative, but the panel was not political or partisan.
“There wasn’t one person in there that creates jobs for a living,” Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said Tuesday. “They also didn’t present a single new idea.”
McKinney said many of the proposals have been made before, but that the Democratic majority has consistently voted against these proposals.
“Maybe this year their votes will match their rhetoric,” he said.
Last year there were two important reports released on Connecticut’s economic development and job growth in the state. One report was authored by the Gov. M. Jodi Rell‘s administration and the other one by the legislature‘s Program Review and Investigations Committee.
Neither of the reports set priorities for what lawmakers should tackle first.
Merrill and Looney said that’s where this report is different. It sets priorities and provides a blueprint for Connecticut’s future.