Just when everyone was starting to express some cautious optimism about the job market in Connecticut, Gallup’s poll listing Connecticut in last place for job creation felt like a sucker punch to our collective guts.
The Gallup poll doesn’t measure how many jobs were created in a year, but rather is based on interviews with state residents about whether or not their workplace will be hiring in the next year. So, instead of past performance, it seems to indicate we are likely to see little job growth in the coming months.
Apparently, Connecticut is tied with Rhode Island for having the worst job creation scores since 2008, and they are the only two states that have been in the bottom 10 every year.
The good news is, every state was in positive territory – meaning every state is expected to add jobs this year – but the bad news is Connecticut is expected to add the fewest in the nation.
Plus the median home value in our state is falling – the median home price in the Hartford region dropped 7 percent in the last quarter of 2014. The median statewide dropped 1.2 percent for 2014, while the median home values in the northeast region as a whole went up 2.2 percent. I suppose that’s good if you’re looking to buy, but for homeowners those numbers are bad news.
We’re all a little fatigued from the bad news, but there are things we can do to turn Connecticut around. That’s why we’re all still here working at it, right? Because we believe Connecticut can do better.
One of the things the state needs to do is tame its anti-business rhetoric – and that starts at the top.
The letter from Tenet CEO Trevor Fetter is shocking to read – he says at his first meeting with Gov. Malloy, he asked Malloy if Tenet was welcome in Connecticut.
“You candidly told me that you were not sure you wanted us, but not sure you didn’t want us,” he wrote.
Fetter said he was “taken aback” by the response. I bet that’s putting it lightly.
Keep in mind Tenet is for-profit, which maybe Malloy found off-putting? Because making a profit is seen as distasteful in some way?
Forget that Tenet, as a for-profit, would have actually paid taxes to the cities and towns where it bought hospitals. But for-profits expect to do things efficiently, and sometimes that means cutting costs, which apparently is not allowed here.
So Tenet is staying away.
But even businesses currently in Connecticut have not been spared Malloy’s scorn. This week, a local business that makes a new kind of flu vaccine cried foul after Malloy reneged on a promise to use its flu vaccine, but instead went with a traditional vaccine.
“He is doing so much damage to CT business by blowing us off that I find it impossible to believe,” Protein Sciences CEO Dan Adams wrote in an email to Courant reporter Dan Haar.
Meanwhile, the legislature is following its past trends by continuing to mull anti-business bills, like banning plastic bags, and mandating that businesses have family and medical leave insurance for their employees.
The family and medical leave insurance is just one more proposal in a string of proposals that is supposed to make Connecticut a nicer place to work, but will instead make Connecticut a much harder place to find work. And that isn’t nice.
A Connecticut Business and Industry Association study on the insurance proposal points out that the only other state that has a program like the one proposed here in Connecticut is Washington, but it has never fully implemented the plan because it is too expensive. Too expensive. Making government more expensive also isn’t nice, especially when we already have a huge budget gap to overcome.
The state government needs to stop doing things to expand its budget, and start looking at ways to save money. And to cut our very high taxes – because as the Yankee Institute study released this week says, high taxes hurt.
By getting our budget under control we can send a message to the business community that Connecticut is a stable, business-friendly state. That is not the message our state is now sending.
Besides, we have enough on our plates. Instead of new programs, let’s focus on doing well what we’re already doing. Like fixing Metro North, our crumbling bridges, and our overcrowded roads. Like making our urban education system better. Like making the government programs we have more efficient and user-friendly.
How many last-place and bottom-10 finishes does the state need to rack up to get our lawmakers’ attention? We can do better.
Suzanne Bates is the policy director for the Yankee Institute for Public Policy. She lives in South Windsor with her family. Follow her on Twitter @suzebates.
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