My Continued Focus on
Jobs and the Economy
My colleagues and I in the Senate recently unveiled a new, 5-point jobs plan that will help local, small businesses protect and grow jobs and boost Connecticut’s economy.
One of our new proposals expands existing state business loans and grants to an additional 2,600 local companies by expanding the definition of a ‘small business’ from 50 employees to 100 employees. Another proposal expands our existing ‘Step-Up’ program to give businesses financial incentives to hire the unemployed and post-9/11 combat veterans who are returning from overseas.
Education is on the minds of many, and rightfully so, but I want to let you know that taking steps to grow jobs and invigorate Connecticut’s economy is still at the top of my legislative list.
The Education Session Begins!
As promised, Governor Malloy has proposed a series of education reforms that he is asking the General Assembly to take up this legislative session, which just began on February 8.
I have said previously that while some Connecticut schools relatively excel, many, many others are failing our students. The achievement gap is increasingly building an underclass of young people which is itself discriminatory as well as expensive. On the global level, American schools are no longer ranked in the first 25 in the world in mathematics and the sciences.
The Governor’s proposed reforms include a modification of teacher tenure and certification practices and the better preparation of our teachers in improving student performance. He’s also proposing to increase the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant for many cities and towns.
I suport most of these proposals but seek a different focus -- a more rigorous school curriculum for all our students and greater accountability (not money) when students fail.
Two Other Initiatives
In November I was very proud to take part in the groundbreaking of a new, $6 million facility being built by a Guilford-based business that will turn used cooking oil, vegetable oil and animal fat into clean-burning biodiesel fuel.
The Greenleaf Biofuels 10-million gallon per year biodiesel plant at New Haven harbor will be the largest biofuel facility in New England and the first with deepwater and railroad access. Greenleaf and its CEO, Gus Kellogg, are based in Guilford.
I have since introduced legislation seeking a sales tax exemption for any machinery, equipment, tools, supplies or fuel used by biofuel companies as a way to nurture and grow this vitally important local industry.
I am also introducing legislation to eliminate the so-called “longevity bonuses” that most state employees get in addition to their annual salaries, and to cease the inclusion of overtime compensation when calculating state employee pensions. I believe eliminating these two perks—though it will be difficult to accomplish in a timely manner, given the length of the existing state employee SEBAC contract—are worth undertaking in order to reflect our state government’s accountability to its taxpayers.