The 2018 legislative session will open on February 7. While the legislature’s priority is dealing with the current $245 million deficit, it is a symptom, not a cause, of the long list of serious financial problems that are sustaining Connecticut’s persistent fiscal crisis: ballooning retirement-related liabilities, growing debt service, high overhead costs, punitive taxes, and a shrinking tax base, among others. Funding for programs and services for the needy, transportation, schools, and towns is constantly in jeopardy. So although the legislature’s primary focus during the session will clearly be on the current budget, I hope that it will be on addressing the serious underlying structural issues as well.
Before the session gets underway, I want to share with you a document that will likely be part of the backdrop for debate. If you are interested in the state’s many financial and economic issues, it may provide helpful context for you.
The document is a presentation entitled “Remarks on Economic Growth”. Prepared by Jim Loree, President and CEO of Stanley Black & Decker, it is a product of the work currently being done by the state Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, which was created by a provision in the budget bill passed last year. Unlike many commissions formed by the legislature, it does not include any elected officials currently in office. Instead, most of its members are top executives of major corporations, professional firms, and nonprofits. It has been meeting since December, and must deliver to the legislature by March 1 a report including recommendations on what the state should do to resolve its fiscal crisis and restore its economy.
Prepared by people who bring the objectivity of working outside state government, the presentation leaves no room for doubt about the gravity of Connecticut’s financial problems. At the same time, it recognizes that restoring the state’s economy requires not only rationalizing and reduction of spending, but also growth of the tax base, and it proposes a number of avenues for action.
I will wait to form a point of view on the courses of actions that this preliminary presentation begins to suggest until we receive the final report. But meanwhile, I wanted to share it with you, to give you a clear idea of many of the issues the legislature may be discussing. Even more important, I am very interested in hearing any thoughts, concerns, or questions you may want to share with me in return.
Click here to read Jim Loree’s presentation, “Remarks on Economic Growth”.
During the upcoming session, I will be actively involved in the discussions surrounding tax policy, education, transportation, and economic growth, so it is very important to me to know what matters to you in these areas. Please call or send me an email if you would like to discuss any of these issues. I always appreciate hearing from you.