With warm wishes to each of you for a festive, enjoyable holiday season and for all good things in the new year, I’ll send along these brief updates from the State Capitol.
Special Session Yields
Major Jobs Bill
Our late October special session resulted in a new law to help create more jobs for Connecticut residents. It creates an enhanced business climate by addressing issues identified by constituents and business owners alike.
The wide-ranging initiative streamlines the state’s permitting processes, provides tax credits and other economic incentives for business expansion, encourages private sector investment and improves the state’s workforce training and development programs.
One message we received and responded to was how the state’s regulatory environment had to make sense and had to be manageable, so I’m particularly pleased with the plan to make permits, licenses and other administrative requirements more easily attained.
There’s enormous potential for growth in the state’s small business sector; this new law features a revolving loan fund, a job creation matching grant program and special manufacturing assistance for smaller companies. Every aspect of this legislation is meant to help businesses grow and help more people get back to work.
Download my summary of the jobs legislation which includes helpful contact information for programs aimed to assist small businesses.
‘Smart Money’ Betting On
Bay State Casinos
Residents of southeastern Connecticut are braced for the newly improved prospects for casino gambling in neighboring states. Massachusetts has a new law likely to yield three casinos comparable to Connecticut’s Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun resorts with untold economic impact.
Connecticut’s casinos provide a remarkable source of additional revenue for the state —they are two of the largest casinos in the world. Each year for nearly 20 years the state’s share has been literally hundreds of millions of dollars—about 2 percent of state budget revenues. It seems self-evident three next-door casinos will lessen that revenue; I want to underscore, however, it’s too early to pull the panic lever.
In fact, a hidden benefit to additional competition for Connecticut casinos might be built into the state’s reliance upon that revenue, which is already declining and largely attributed to a soft economy. I believe our state budget should not become overly reliant upon a revenue stream as variable as that. Perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing to wean ourselves from this.
Also, I have long been concerned about the socioeconomic cost of pathological gambling, in terms of lost productivity, broken homes and criminal activity. We will continue to monitor the prospects for gambling in Massachusetts, along with those in New York and Rhode Island. Smart money says Connecticut will adapt and survive, despite these changes looming on the horizon.
‘Farm Fresh’ Means
Southeastern Connecticut is fortunate to have many farms in production with many seasonal outlets for native fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Statewide, farming and associated activities contribute approximately $3.5 billion to the state’s economy; there are some 20,000 Connecticut jobs in the field, if you’ll allow the expression.
Each of us has the chance—everyday—to participate in the economic benefits of local agriculture. Every dollar invested shores-up what is already a remarkably stable industry: local farming is dependent upon good soils and a favorable climate—two commodities impossible to simply pick up and move to another state.
Another residual economic benefit is the manner in which it keeps local capital in local circulation. For example, most of what’s spent to buy an apple grown in Washington winds up in the Pacific Northwest, where it’s spent with Washington accountants, attorneys and in local shops and restaurants. Conversely, after buying a Connecticut-grown apple, virtually all the money spent stays right here in Connecticut.
Ample nutritional benefits are also built into ‘go local.’ When produce must endure excessive travel it must be picked early, prior to its flavor and nutritional peak. Furthermore, long-distance transport to markets can drive up the price of produce; conversely, what’s grown locally is harvested and cooked or eaten in a matter of days—or even hours—while it’s still ‘farm fresh.’