There’s the Sportsmen’s Caucus, the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, the Rural Caucus, the Long Island Sound Caucus, and now we have the Manufacturing Caucus.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered Wednesday morning to announce the formation of the new group within the legislature.
Sen. Gary LeBeau, D-East Hartford, said that over the last 10 years Connecticut has lost 50,000 jobs in manufacturing and that equates to 419 jobs lost each month. He said those jobs aren’t necessarily being replaced with employment opportunities of the same quality.
Individuals in the manufacturing industry earn an average salary of $74,000 a year, LeBeau said. According to a Connecticut Industrial Energy Consumers report, manufacturing contributed $25.9 billion to the gross state product and accounts for about 11.4 percent of the state’s total employment.
LeBeau said he decided to form a caucus along with state Reps. Vincent Candelora, Zeke Zalaski, Jeffrey Berger, and Sen. Tony Guglielmo, to educate lawmakers on the value of manufacturing in the state.
He said manufacturing is making a comeback and he wants to make sure that when manufacturing jobs return from China, they come back to Connecticut.
He said lawmakers may understand the importance of manufacturing, but never before has there been a caucus around manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is in our DNA,” Guglielmo said, also admitting they’re probably not going to do much in the last seven days of the legislative session. But he said the caucus will benefit the state in the long run.
But it’s bigger than manufacturing. “It really is a window to Connecticut’s economy,” Candelora, a Republican from North Branford, said.
Manufacturing is usually the first industry that shows indications when a recession is going to occur and it’s the first industry that can predict when a recession is over, Candelora said.
“Our recoveries are much more rapid when we have a vibrant manufacturing industry,” Candelora added.
Manufacturing also plays a central role in both the education and energy policy debates.
LeBeau said it’s probably the most “issue oriented” caucus.
Candelora said the caucus will be looking to educate other lawmakers about the consequences that new legislation may have on manufacturing.
“We have a common interest here, common values to mitigate and lessen the potential impact for conflicts of legislation,” LeBeau said.