Area lawmakers meet with business leaders in North Haven [Record Journal]

August 28, 2015


NORTH HAVEN — Members of the business community discussed the state’s economic climate on Thursday, days after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy confirmed that he has met with General Electric and proposed assistance to keep its headquarters in Fairfield.

“GE is just the tip of the ice berg,” said Howard Goldfarb, owner of Leed Himmel Industries, a 106-year old aluminum manufacturing firm in Hamden.

Local lawmakers and business representatives met in the conference room at Ulbrich Stainless Steels and Special Metals, Inc. in North Haven. The morning event was hosted by the New Haven Manufacturers Association, Ulbrich, and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. Legislative guests included Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney D-New Haven, Senate Minority Leader Leonard Fasano, R-North Haven, Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, House Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, state Rep. Dave Yaccarino, R-North Haven, and State Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford.

Other business leaders said they feel too many companies have already left the state for lower-tax states in the south and southwest. They found a sympathetic ear in Fasano, who has criticized the most recent two-year state budget.

“This is unsustainable,” Fasano said. “This cliff is coming.”

A revised two-year budget plan enacted in late June reduced a proposed two-year tax increase of $1.5 billion by more than $175 million. Despite the tax hike, the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis is projecting a $927 million deficit in 2017-18, the first fiscal year after the new biennial budget, according to the Connecticut Mirror.

GE was one of several major Connecticut employers that criticized Malloy and the General Assembly over the state budget.

Sharkey believes GE is more disappointed that Congressional representatives are not working on GE’s behalf to help the corporation win government contracts.

Goldfarb also told lawmakers his energy costs have risen sharply.

“We pay more for everything,” he said.

Another business owner complained that benefits for state workers, including pensions, are costing taxpayers too much and exceed benefits offered in the private sector. A four-year contract between the unions and the state is up next year and legislative leaders have already told Malloy they expect reductions, Sharkey said.

Fasano wants to see newly-hired state employees receive a 401K retirement plan similar to those offered in private businesses.

Lawmakers ticked off their priorities for the 2016 legislative session. Mushinsky mentioned proven job apprenticeship programs and transportation infrastructure, including high-speed rail. She also wants to see improved medical care for veterans.

Candelora, who represents a part of Wallingford, wants improved housing for veterans, and subsidies to employers who hire vets.

Fasano, who represents Wallingford, wants to change the way the state gives money to cities to solve problems, including offering a choice of public schools within a district.