Now that the 2012 legislative session is underway, I am hard at work trying to make Connecticut a safer and more affordable place to live, work and do business. Among my top priorities this session are to improve Connecticut’s dismal business climate and fiscal health; unfortunately, initial indicators suggest that my colleagues and I will be facing an uphill battle.
Since last month, Connecticut’s economic health has worsened:
• The state’s $145 million projected deficit has grown to $161 million just four months shy of a fiscal year end that Governor Malloy boasted would see tens of millions in surplus
• In spite of the historic tax increase, last month State Treasurer Nappier released a report showing that cash on hand is at an all-time low level of 13% of available funds – good enough to pay our operating expenses for less than 3 days
• The state budget is expect to come within a whisper of the spending cap next year, with subsequent years expected to exceed the spending cap if no action is taken
Despite these disturbing trends, the Governor is increasing spending by over a half billion dollars ($590 million) between this year and next – a $260 million increase previously built in, plus a $329 million new increase proposed this session.
The connection between Connecticut’s deteriorating fiscal health and the financial wellbeing of middle class citizens and small businesses has proved undeniable under the current administration, as the majority’s appetite for over-spending has been repeatedly passed down to residents in the form of new taxes, regulations and fees.
Aside from the prominent tax increases businesses and residents have absorbed over the past several months, another alarming trend has risen. It appears that the Governor and his legislative counterparts have continuously found General Fund savings by “changing the rules in the middle of the game” when it comes to small businesses.
From underfunding the underground storage tank program – which is expected to result in 400 petroleum dealers to go out of business, to the sweeping reforms proposed to liquor sales and last year’s unprecedented paid sick leave law, it’s clear that the Governor has no qualms about fundamentally changing the landscape of a particular industry – to the detriment of small business owners – if it helps him feed our ever-growing and bloated government.
Changing the rules in the middle of the game for small businesses prohibits the consistency needed to make long-term investments. It’s bad for business and further aggravates the markedly anti-business climate that Connecticut has been suffering under for years.
We need to make the systemic changes necessary to sustain a bustling, prosperous small business environment.
On one hand, we need to right-size state government and make it more efficient, responsive and affordable for middle class residents and business owners. On the other hand, we need to help our businesses instead of acting as adversaries. My colleagues and I support a moratorium on new businesses regulations and we would like to see a cost/benefit analysis on existing business regulations.
Additionally, we would like to see taxes brought down to a manageable level and levied at a consistent rate. This means capping the volatile gross receipts tax on gasoline and repealing the corporate tax surcharge.
I encourage you to get involved in any issues and policies that may affect small business. Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss state and community issues of concern at David.Scribner@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.