GOP Legislators Praise Jobs Bill, Say Spending Remains A Problem [Stratford Star]

March 2, 2012

Article as it appeared in the Stratford Star on March 2, 2012.

By John Kovach

Stratford’s Republican legislators Tuesday spoke highly of a jobs bill they said was forged from bipartisan efforts.

But they said Hartford has yet to deal with the problem impeding business in Connecticut: government spending.

State Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120th District) told members of the Stratford Chamber of Commerce, assembled in the Stratford Library’s Lovell Room, that they played a part in the legislation through their comments about the state of business in Connecticut.

As a result, the General Assembly is considering a number of initiatives designed to improve the jobs climate and the ability to do business in Connecticut.

Regulations, particularly those enforced by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, are lessening, Hoydick said.

And training of the workforce will be enhanced through the creation of manufacturing centers at community colleges, including Housatonic, and a new focus on the vocational-technical schools that less than a year ago Gov. Dannel Malloy wanted to shift from state to local control, Sen. Kevin Kelly (R-21st District) said.

Kelly accompanied Malloy on his jobs tour, and found that the average age of those in manufacturing jobs was in the 40s, with no new skilled labor in the wings.

Apprenticeship programs no longer exist, Kelly said, putting more of an emphasis on schools training workers in demand, such as machinists.

Once trained, those workers could get jobs from businesses capitalizing on proposed incentive programs, Kelly said.

The Job Expansion Tax Credit Program gives employees $500 per month for three years for each new job created and $900 per month for hiring the unemployed, the disabled or veterans. Eligibility is based on the number of jobs created and the size of the business: one job for an operation with 50 or fewer employees, five jobs for those with 50 to 100 employees, 10 new jobs for those with 100 or more employees.

The Standardized Training and Employment Program provides grants to businesses and manufacturers that employ 50 or fewer employees to cover training and compensation. It includes $5 million per year for two years for the Subsidized Training and Equipment Program, and $5 million for two years for the Small Manufacturer Training Grant Program. Programs apply to new hires.

Manufacturing Reinvestment Accounts (MRAs) allow businesses with 50 or fewer employees to deposit 100% of domestic gross receipts for five years in an interest-bearing account to save for training, developing or expanding the workforce, or purchasing machinery, equipment or facilities. Corporation taxes on MRAs are deferred until withdrawal for eligible purposes, and the tax rate on the withdrawal is reduced from 7.5% to 3.5%. New legislation increased the number of small manufacturing companies that may participate from 50 to 100, and doubled the maximum amount deposited from $50,000 to $100,000 as of Jan. 1, 2012.

A total of $10 million in bonding over the next two years is set aside for the Furnace Replacement Program.

State Rep. Larry Miller (R-121st District) said without better insulation, most businesses would realize little in savings even with upgraded heating equipment.

The Main Street Initiatives Program sets aside $5 million annually to award $500,000 to any municipality eligible for STEAP grants.

Asked why the funding for façade and street improvements was targeted at small towns and not cities, Kelly said the sponsor is from a small town.

Those efforts to revitalize the state’s economy came about when Democrats and Republicans realized they were on common ground.

“It’s not really a stridently partisan issue,” Kelly said. “We all want what’s better for the community, what’s better for Connecticut.”

Yet as the legislature reaches across the aisle to improve business conditions, “Connecticut continues to spend,” Kelly said.

State leaders, he said, continue to work “to get money away from the middle class and to Hartford.”

“The business situation is not in a good place,” Hoydick said, as the legislature needs to stabilize the state.

“As Kevin said, we’re spending more than we make,” she added. “We can’t continue to do that.”