HARTFORD — State Rep. John Rigby today supported bipartisan legislation aimed at reversing Connecticut’s lagging employment figures by moving toward cutting red tape for business owners while offering loans to encourage business expansion and creating job training that will grow the state’s skilled workforce. The proposals, packaged in one bill, passed overwhelmingly in the both the state House and Senate during a special session of the General Assembly. Rigby has focused on improving Connecticut’s reputation as a state that’s unfriendly to business since taking office in January, and Wednesday’s vote gives him hope that majority legislators will be willing to continue the effort with additional reforms early next year.
“Many business owners I’ve met with feel as though government has worked against them, not with them,” said Rigby, ranking member of the Labor Committee. “The package passed today should indicate to small business owners that though there’s much more work to do, the legislature is eager to help them succeed in the state.”
Money for the proposals approved Wednesday evening will come from existing bond authorizations rather than additional borrowing beyond budgeted limits, Rigby said.
Rigby and his House Republican colleagues met recently with more than 50 small business owners who shared their needs and concerns. Those ideas, focused on small businesses, were incorporated into the bill passed today:
• $60 million for training programs and tax credits;
• $10 million revolving loan fund for business at risk of closing;
• $500 monthly tax credit for new hires, $900 credit for all unemployed, disabled and veteran hiring;
• Cut in half to $125 the annual Business Entity tax;
• $40 million to establish and expand manufacturing technology training at six schools in the community college and vocational technical systems;
• Reduce “Angel” investment threshold from $100,000 to $25,000.
“Much of the governor’s efforts have been focused on large companies, and today’s bill was timely because so many small and mid-sized business owners worried that they had been all but forgotten,” Rigby said.
The legislation features a “Small Business Express Package,” which through the Department of Economic and Community Development offers a revolving loan fund program for at-risk businesses and a job creation matching grant program for small, stable businesses looking to expand, reinvest and increase employment.
Business owners have long blasted the state’s regulatory and permitting and Republicans responded:
• Brownfield reclamation enhanced through $20 million used to clean up and sell properties privately;
• State Traffic Commission proposals not acted upon with 60 days will be deemed approved;
• An enhanced and improved informational technology portal will make it faster and easier for developers and businesses to work through the state bureaucracy;
• Analyze and report on agency permitting processes by the start of the 2012 legislative session, with an aim toward crafting bipartisan legislation to create streamlined, systematic changes.