Connecticut begins 2016 having finally regained all of the private sector jobs lost in the Great Recession of 2008.

Although our pace of recovery lagged the nation and neighboring states, we — and the tens of thousands of families in the workforce we represent — are committed to sustaining these job gains and building upon them.
In return, we ask state lawmakers to refrain from making our commitment more difficult by creating new or expanding existing labor mandates.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in signing the budget adjustments produced in last month’s special legislative session, said it best when he remarked, “We no doubt have more to do in the General Assembly session ahead, but this is a positive step to improve the state’s business climate and deliver long-term predictability that will allow our families and businesses to thrive.”

Businesses of all sizes looking to retain or grow jobs in Connecticut, above all else, need stability and predictability to build a secure workforce.

They look not only at whether or not the state’s fiscal house is in order, but also at lawmakers’ attitudes on imposing untried, unnecessary, inflexible, one-size-fits all labor mandates.

We are tired of the negative perception of Connecticut’s business climate. We are committed to partnering with lawmakers to make Connecticut more competitive.

However, the reality is that the labor mandates enacted in recent years have added to the already high cost of sustaining Connecticut jobs, and they have slowed our recovery.

Companies that have chosen to exit the state have directly cited these mandates as contributing factors.

Efforts in recent months to reduce state spending were an important first step, but the journey to steadily securing Connecticut’s workforce gains is a long one — and we cannot afford any steps backward.

It is critical to Connecticut’s businesses that the perpetual threat of new and expanded labor mandates ends now.

The next step in the journey requires more action. We urge lawmakers to take the following steps in the 2016 session:

1. Reject efforts to establish a state-sponsored retirement plan for the private sector that will directly compete with Connecticut’s vital financial services industry and also force businesses to enroll employees in, or incur the payroll costs of facilitating contributions to, any such plan.

2. Reject creating a costly and unsustainable new paid family and medical leave program or expanding existing leave requirements.

3. Reject efforts to impose penalty taxes on employers who create job opportunities for unskilled and entry-level employees simply because some of those opportunities start at less than $15 per hour.

4. Reject the addition or expansion of any other one-size-fits-all employee leave or scheduling mandates.

5. Protect the unemployment compensation trust fund for future employees by adopting the same unemployment benefit reforms that our neighboring states are successfully using.

Connecticut’s economy has newfound traction.

It takes courage and bold action to set a new course and stay on it. If legislators do their part to provide job creators with relief from current and newly proposed costly labor mandates, we can work together to expand and create more jobs and opportunities right here, where they belong.

Eric Gjede is assistant counsel at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association. This letter was signed by 68 business and professional organizations, including many of the state’s local and regional Chambers of Commerce, representing thousands of Connecticut companies and their employees.

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