Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy promised the owners of Mickey Finn’s on Friday that he would be back with his son this weekend to purchase a pair of T.K. Axel Brand jeans.
That’s because this Sunday is the start of Connecticut’s sales tax free week where clothing, footwear, and some accessories under $300 will be exempt from the state’s 6.35 percent sales tax. The annual sales tax free week, which will cost the state between $7 and $9 million, runs through Aug. 23.
The T.K. Axel Brand jeans Malloy tried on Friday were designed by a Connecticut’s Jade Marketing Group, which names its styles after Connecticut governors and towns. Malloy tried on the Trumbull fit with a Greenwich wash. It’s their slimmest fit.
When he came out to model the jeans for the cameras, Malloy asked of Jade Marketing’s Sean Connelly, “could you get me a Democratic town?”
Connelly laughed and told the governor, “thanks to you we’re hiring.” The West Hartford-based company has 75 employees and has been adding new jean designs every season.
Malloy asked the group of reporters if they had Connelly’s statement on tape because it validated the increase in jobs reported hours earlier by the Labor Department.
The Connecticut Labor Department reported Friday that the state added 2,400 nonfarm jobs in July. It also revised its June numbers up by 500 jobs to 2,200 for the month.
The private sector job growth in July was even higher at 3,100 jobs. Government sector jobs declined by 700 jobs last month. However, since the beginning of the year the private sector has added 17,300 jobs, according to the Labor Department.
Unemployment was 6.6 percent in July, which is down one-tenth of a percent from last month. The unemployment rate has not been this low in the state since December 2008.
“Connecticut experienced its first back-to-back June-July nonfarm employment gain since the recovery began in early 2010,” Andy Condon, director of the Office of Research, said. “This growth, along with continued declines in the number of unemployed, may be an indication that the moderate employment growth we have seen this year will be sustainable for some time.”
Malloy praised the numbers Friday during a press conference at Mickey Finn’s in Berlin.
“I got to be governor during some of the toughest times the state has ever faced and we’re growing jobs in record numbers,” Malloy said.
He said about 60,000 private sector jobs have been created since he and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were sworn into office.
“I’m sure Republicans will pooh-pooh that,” Malloy said.
He was right.
Following the press conference, Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. released a statement critical of the progress Connecticut has made under a Malloy administration.
“Connecticut continues to suffer one of the worst job recovery rates in the nation,” Labriola said.
He pointed to the fact that Connecticut has yet to recover 100 percent of the jobs it lost during the recession. According to the Labor Department, it has recovered 76,400 positions — or 64.1 percent — of the nonfarm jobs lost in the state during the recession.
“Thanks to Governor Malloy’s ill-advised policies of higher taxes and excessive government overreach, Connecticut continues to lag far behind our neighboring states and the nation,” Labriola said.
Malloy said the state is adding on average about 1,400 private sector jobs per month.
“I understand that this is politics and people will say things that aren’t true,” Malloy said.
Malloy said he’s grown more jobs per month than either former Govs. John G. Rowland or M. Jodi Rell. Rowland averaged job growth of about 819 nonfarm jobs, while Rell averaged a loss of about 415 nonfarm jobs per month. Rowland averaged about 620 private sector jobs per month, and Rell lost about 407 private sector jobs per month.
“Connecticut’s economy is growing,” Malloy said.
If that’s true then when will residents see more tax relief?
The year-round $50 exemption on clothing and footwear will go back into effect in 2015. Malloy had eliminated it in 2011 during his first budget proposal when he increased taxes $2.6 billion over two years.
Malloy’s Republican opponent, Tom Foley, has said he can reduce the sales tax by a half a percent in his second year. He estimates that it would cost the state about $300 million in revenue.
Malloy said he thinks the state will be in a position to cut taxes further in the future.
“I look forward to a term in office in ever increasing better economic times,” Malloy said.
He added: “I want a tax structure that’s reducing taxes, doing it in the best way possible to promote growth in the state of Connecticut.”
But he made no specific promises about which taxes he would reduce or cut beyond the ones he attempted to scale back last year.
Malloy said he will let the commission created to review Connecticut’s tax structure do its work before he offers a definitive statement on the issue.