In recent weeks we have heard encouraging and positive statements form at least two recently elected officials. The Governor-elect, Dan Malloy, declared that Connecticut is “now open for business.” No better words could have been spoken by a newly elected governor in a state whose reputation for attracting and retaining business over the last years has been abysmal.
The second encouraging statement came from Attorney General-elect George Jepsen, who promised he would be “a different kind of attorney general.” Based on the anti-business, politicized, grandstanding that has characterized that office in recent years, it is a welcome message.
As we enter the new legislative session, we are also pleased that many legislative candidates are committed to finding ways to maintain and create jobs in Connecticut. Certainly this is good news as well.
The business community — large, small, manufacturers, service providers, entrepreneurs — has endured a state government that has often turned a deaf ear to their basic needs for survival. State regulatory policies, or lack thereof, which preceded the current economic crisis set the stage for further erosion of the state’s economic well being. Legislation has been passed that discourages business in its attempt to maintain and add jobs.
It is axiomatic that the more people who are working, the greater the growth in the tax base and therefore in the state’s ability to maintain a balanced budget. However, Connecticut’s current budget crisis will not simply ease with the addition of additional taxpayers. Major changes in the management of state resources are urgently needed. State government must be streamlined. Businesses have been forced to do more with less for years in Connecticut. It’s time for state government to do the same.
To those who are ready and willing to make Connecticut truly open for business, we offer some suggestions. Many have been raised before, but have not come to fruition for various reasons. For example, we were particularly disheartened by the outgoing administration’s dismissal of the recommendations offered by the Metro Chambers’ proposals for the budget negotiations back in June of last year. They are still relevant a year later. Others, including CBIA, have developed a set of initiatives. All of these proposals have to be on the table and deserve thorough discussion, in what we hope will be an ongoing dialogue with state officials and business.
In the spirit of cooperation and progress, we offer some initiatives we would like to see in the coming months:
• A balanced state budget reform initiative that streamlines reduces the cost of and increases the efficiency of state services.
• A full examination of the report of the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes and the implementation of the relevant recommendations.
• More public-private initiatives allowing state and municipal governments to contract with private companies for the provision of certain services.
• Legislation requiring a fiscal note to be attached to every piece of legislation stating its impact on the private sector.
• Legislative action to reform the current regulatory structure, eliminating antiquated, burdensome and sometimes duplicative regulations.
• Creation of a tax policy that is sane and reflects the need to encourage business to maintain and create jobs.
• Greater attention to the marketing of the state as a place to do business.
There are more, of course. And the sooner the private and public sectors sit down and work cooperatively to develop and initiate a sound public policy encourage job growth, the better.
Jobs for Connecticut Now is encouraged by the concern and positive comments shown by our newly elected officials. We are also aware that developing a forward looking, sane economic policy will require leadership, hard work and persistence. We will support and promote ideas offered by our elected officials that increase job growth. They can count on that.
Paul Moran is Executive Director of Jobs for Connecticut Now and Jobs for New England Now, a coalition of business leaders, pro-business groups, and non-profit organizations from across New England working in support of more business friendly policies in the region.