The business lobby, fact and fiction about the Connecticut economy

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There’s a stark disconnect between fact and fiction when it comes to our economy in Connecticut, and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, Connecticut’s largest business lobby, is pushing Republicans to play up the fiction for political gain this November. Should they succeed, Connecticut’s workers — working poor to middle-income families — will be the first to lose.

Recently, a CBIA study on the state of Connecticut’s economy showed that business profits are at a 10-year high. This encouraging news is further supported by U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Labor reports showing an increase in median income and job growth in Connecticut, respectively.  Although some analysts acknowledge the rate of growth as slow comparatively, they all agree that Connecticut is moving in the right direction and becoming much stronger than where it was 10 years ago.

However, much to the chagrin of the CBIA, who hope to flip control of the house and senate to Republicans this fall, this narrative doesn’t fit their message. Despite this encouraging news, the CBIA quickly downplays the facts of its own study, while playing up speculation that lowers confidence in our economy.

So, let’s be straight about what they’re saying: business profits are up significantly, but worries still persist about our economy. If that’s the case, perhaps we should acknowledge the role the CBIA plays in stoking those fears.

They’re quick to sound the alarm at the slightest hint of bad news, but very careful to disregard any good news as meaningless. In the same breath, they escalate fears about the viability of our economy with speculative analysis, and in doing so discourage business growth and development in our state.

CBIA-backed Republicans are selling an economic vision that doesn’t work for workers, who are the backbone of our economy. In fact, it doesn’t really address them at all. It’s pro-big business. Really, they want to create a system of less taxation on insurance companies, investment banks and hedge funds, not small businesses and entrepreneurs.

This election, they’re funding 13 Republicans with $415,000 to flip the majority in the state house and senate, even though they have always claimed non-partisanship. They’ve already spent $2.5 million in lobbying in the last three years to influence our governing process, and now they’re doubling down their efforts to elect Republicans in a bid to keep wages low and deny benefits to working families, effectively eliminating their opportunity to become stronger participants in our economy.

Economic growth is a product of investment, not budget cuts. To grow our economy, we need to be smarter about how we invest in our youth and workforce, and make our state an attractive place for high level talent, as surrounding states have. We need to invest fairly in our education system so we can develop the highly skilled workforce that businesses need.

Families need the economic security provided by fair leave and scheduling practices so that they are reliable participants in our economy. We need to invest in transportation and infrastructure. Right now, we’re not investing enough and it’s holding our economy back. Technology and innovation is strong in Connecticut, and as the industry develops, it’s critical that the state build a best in-class transportation service and invest in improving our technical high schools so that we nurture and keep young talent here.

We don’t need to offer tax breaks and massive incentive packages if we have the kind of workforce you can’t get anywhere else.

Connecticut needs a fair and stable economy – one that works for large and small business, consumers and all workers. Our economy is lopsided. Connecticut has the second biggest divide between rich and poor, and the middle class is quickly joining the ranks of the working poor. And that’s where we can find our single and greatest opportunity to truly fix our economy. We need to invest not just in middle class families, but also in lower income communities with higher paying jobs with decent benefits – such as healthcare and paid sick time.  We need wealthy people and big businesses to pay their fair share- – because when they don’t the rest of us pay more.

The choice is clear this November. There are candidates who want to fix our economy just for a few of us and those who want to fix it for everyone —  – not just the wealthy and well-connected.

Carlos Moreno is spokesman for the Connecticut Working Familes Party.

What do you think?

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