Christine Stuart file photo
Joe McGee, president of the Fairfield County Business Council, and Rep. William Tong, co-chair the Commission on Economic Competitiveness (Christine Stuart file photo)

The Commission on Economic Competitiveness had to table discussion Thursday about changes to the state’s business tax structure because legislative leaders are still negotiating behind closed doors.

Many of the proposals Revenue Services Commissioner Kevin Sullivan circulated Thursday in a letter to the commission are part of those discussions, but negotiations are still “in large part confidential,” Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, said.

In the letter, Sullivan highlights some of the various tax changes Gov. Dannel P. Malloy laid out in October. The first is the use of sales as the single factor in apportioning income for a multi-state company that is subjected to the unitary tax.

“Single factor apportionment for all corporate income tax filers is fairer and increases the benefit to Connecticut-based businesses,” Sullivan wrote. “Single factor apportionment is the rule among the states—especially our Northeast region competitors.”

Sullivan’s letter also highlights Malloy’s effort to maintain the 50-percent threshold for how business losses are carried forward into the next tax year. Malloy’s proposal would also restore the 70-percent limit on Research and Development tax credits, which was phased out in the budget signed into law this past June.

In November, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, told the Economic Competitiveness Commission that he wants its members to be “on call” as advisers throughout negotiations. Legislative leaders and Malloy are trying to resolve a $350 million budget shortfall, but at the same time are looking to make the state more desirable to businesses.

The 13-person commission was created by statute this year in the same June special session that brought about the objectionable tax package for businesses.

Legislative leaders created this commission “very purposefully,” Tong said.

“They understood that we were in an exceptional period in the state’s economy and economic development,” Tong said.

Tong said legislative leaders knew they needed to draw from all sectors of the state’s economy and different regions of the state to start to answer questions about Connecticut’s changing economy.

“We’re not outside of the process, which is different,” Tong said. “We’re in the process.”

As part of the process, they will be able to stay focused on “competitiveness and making sure Connecticut is as competitive as it can be.”

In order to make sure everyone understands where the state currently is McKinsey & Co. has offered to help Connecticut benchmark itself. The global consulting company, which has offices in Stamford, has offered its services pro-bono to the commission.

It’s still working on getting the state’s permission to offer their services for free. Once they get that permission the commission will help define the scope of what they will be looking at to find objective measures for Connecticut’s economy.