HARTFORD, CT — Good economic news may be hard to come by these days in Connecticut, but the Nutmeg state jumped 10 spots in the CNBC survey of “Top States for Business in 2017.”
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, posted a link to the survey on his Facebook page Wednesday morning with a note saying “We are making progress – while not perfect our great state has a lot going for it. Sorry to disappoint some that like to root for failure!”
The survey shows Connecticut jumped from 43rd in 2016 to the 33rd spot in Wednesday’s survey.
Connecticut tied for the most improved state based on the strength of its schools.
“Quite frankly, we’re getting better at understanding the needs of the marketplace,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday. He said he’s not surprised by the improvement the state has made in what he described as a more objective survey.
“I look forward to higher rankings in the near future,” he added after an event at Indeed to announce the expansion of the job seeking and recruitment website.
He said it’s a “fairer rating” because “they don’t take points off based on your politics where other ratings do.”
The CNBC survey scores all 50 states on more than 60 measures of competitiveness.
Joseph Brennan, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said this is good news because Connecticut usually ranks in the lower 40s in many of these surveys.
“The key is to sustain this,” Brennan said.
He said these surveys fluctuate quite a bit, but it’s a good reminder for policymakers to stay vigilant when it comes to the debate over the state budget.
He said any broad based tax increase would have a “damaging effect” on Connecticut’s economy.
Last year, state lawmakers avoided raising any taxes and passed a budget with $850 million in spending cuts. However, the so-called austerity budget didn’t help the state as much as anticipated. This past April revenues dropped another $450 million creating a $5.1 billion hole in the state budget over the next two years. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on a solution to plugging the hole and Malloy is currently running the state through an executive order.
In the meantime some marquee Connecticut companies—General Electric and Aetna—relocated their headquarters, one to Boston and another to New York.
Brennan said Connecticut has a great workforce and a great quality of life, but it continues to fall flat in some of the other categories such as cost of doing business and infrastructure.
The CNBC survey shows that Connecticut moved up from 18 to 7th place for the quality of its workforce and from 18 to 3rd place for education. But it ranks 47 out of 50 for its infrastructure and is 43rd for the cost of doing business.
“If we did some of the things that I’m trying to do like improved transportation and infrastructure we could easily move to the top 10 states to do business,” Malloy said.
Malloy’s attempts to lock up money dedicated to transportation have largely fallen flat over the past few years and he has refused to increase any revenue for infrastructure until there’s a way to secure it. Voters will be asked to decide next November when they are voting on a new governor whether there should be a constitutional lockbox for transportation funds.
Senate President Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said Connecticut’s improved ranking “reflects our state’s position as a center for technology and innovation as well as our highly educated workforce, great schools, and excellent quality of life.”
He said the major investments the state has made in United Technologies Corp., Sikorsky, and Electric Boat have also helped. But “make no mistake, in order to continue this momentum, much more work remains and we must pass a balanced budget.”
Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said moving up in the rankings is good, but “anyone who thinks it’s the light at end of the tunnel is blind to other indicators that we’re in deep trouble.”
He said the state doesn’t have a budget and has faced several recent downgrades from Wall Street credit rating agencies.
The state of Washington took this year’s top spot in the survey. Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and North Carolina round out the top five states. Massachusetts came in 10th place. New Jersey came in one spot ahead of Connecticut in 32nd and New York placed 38th in the survey.