Creating & Retaining Jobs Is Key To Revitalizing Connecticut’s Economy

June 10, 2009

I recently had the pleasure of co-hosting a roundtable discussion at the Kerite Company in Seymour with area business leaders about the best way to revitalize our state’s economy. Those helping to lead our discussion included my co-hosts, Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele and representatives of CONNSTEP, a business resource organization.

What the roundtable participants had to say would come as no surprise to employers anywhere in Connecticut, or to the far too many people who have lost their jobs or have been forced to take pay cuts this year. To a person, every one of the more than a dozen business leaders at that meeting said that enacting state policies and laws that focus on creating and retaining jobs is the only way to turn around our economy. Increasing taxes would hurt, not help. After all, when people are not earning money and businesses are struggling to survive, who is going to pay these new taxes?

Sadly, not everyone in the General Assembly seems to understand the connection between reducing Connecticut’s 7.5 percent unemployment rate and refraining from suggesting legislation and policies that frighten business owners into wondering whether they have a future in our state.

For example, included among the bills up for consideration this year was one that would have phased out the use of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) in certain products sold or distributed in Connecticut. One of the three major manufacturers of this very important flame retardant is Chemtura in Middlebury.

Proponents of the bill claim this chemical may be unsafe for people and the environment. However, the European Union, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, The National Academy of Sciences and the Consumer Product Safety Commission disagree. Furthermore, the National Institute of Standards and Technology is working with the National Association of State Fire Marshals and the International Association of Fire Fighters to evaluate this product.

Undoubtedly, the people who work at Chemtura were relieved when the second legislative committee to consider this bill rejected it. At the very least, the General Assembly ought to wait for the results of this latest study before considering any further action.

Nevertheless, just the fact this bill was on the table must have had a chilling effect on employers across the state. Proposals like this, along with the legislative Democratic majority’s proposal to enact the largest single tax increase in state history – including the imposition of a 30 percent surcharge on corporate profits – is not the way to keep jobs in Connecticut.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad. Employers and their employees who are worried about harmful legislation and talk of massive tax increases should also be aware of ongoing efforts to help businesses in Connecticut. For example, earlier this year, the Connecticut Development Authority (CDA) approved a $2 million loan to revive a Watertown manufacturer. The loan is intended to help local managers of DriveSol Worldwide, Inc. to purchase machinery and intellectual property from its former parent company. When DriveSol closed its Watertown plant, 241 people lost their jobs. Plans to revive the company as Global Steering Systems could create 130 jobs.

I was pleased to play a role in helping Chemtura and supporting efforts to revive the former local DriveSol operation as the new Global Steering Systems. I remain committed to doing everything possible to help businesses thrive and grow in our state – and will continue to fight misguided proposals to fund our state budget by imposing punitive, job reducing taxes, on businesses and residents.

It has been said that we cannot tax our way out of a recession. The key to putting Connecticut back on the road to prosperity is to pass state legislation and enact government policies that create a favorable business climate. A healthy business climate means jobs. Putting people to work, and helping businesses to keep our citizens employed, will lead to a robust state economy.

The General Assembly can do its part to end this recession by refusing to impose massive tax increases and, instead, achieve meaningful cost savings by shrinking the size of state government. Republicans have proposed a responsible, workable, state budget that would accomplish this goal. More information about the state budget process is available by visiting the new Senate Republicans’ interactive website at And, as always, I hope you will continue to share your concerns about the issues discussed in this column, or any other state issue important to you. I can be reached at my legislative office in Hartford at 1-800-842-1421, or via e-mail to [email protected].