Amazon’s recent decision to drop Connecticut from its list of potential second headquarters locations was disappointing, but not completely unexpected. As companies expand, they look for business-friendly climates to be sure, but their primary focus is the availability of talent at every level. Amazon saw reason to invest in Connecticut for three distribution centers —which will eventually employ 4,000— but not its headquarters. The reason? Simply put, talent at every level is not what Connecticut has to offer.
Across the country anti-worker politicians and corporations are stacking the cards against the 40 percent of Americans making less than $15 an hour and Connecticut is no different. Connecticut has one of the nation’s highest costs of living and the current minimum wage at $10.10 cannot sustain working families.
Our Connecticut State Legislature was faced with a truly historic choice; either dig our state out of a $5 billion biennial fiscal abyss responsibly or, once again, allow the state unions to reap asymmetrical benefits that significantly exceed both the private sector workforce and state employees from any other state in the country. The legislature chose the latter, and one of the most critical opportunities to change our state’s fiscal trajectory was squandered with the renegotiation of our state union workers contract.
Democrats in the State Senate voted last week to approve significant concessions and structural changes — the types of structural changes many of us have long sought — to Connecticut’ state employee labor agreements (SEBAC). This vote is just the latest step Democrats in Connecticut have taken to make government more affordable and more efficient for our taxpayers, and the labor concessions in this agreement represent the most critical piece crafting our next biennial state budget — eliminating about a third of the projected state budget deficit.
Connecticut families and businesses need to understand the state union agreement the legislature has just approved and what it means for them. While one union leader called it “the best and longest public-sector pension and healthcare contract in the country,” its far-reaching budgetary consequences will likely not draw such enthusiasm from Connecticut taxpayers.
I am disappointed that the General Assembly passed the state employee concession contracts. I believe that may have broken the back of Connecticut. I will state the obvious. The Democrats who voted to pass the contracts have also voted for tax increases to pay for those contracts and for the seemingly unending flow of taxpayer dollars into cities.
As Connecticut senators vote on a labor “concessions” deal, the irony is that even greater savings can be achieved without any deal at all. Gov. Dannel Malloy claims to have extracted $715 million in wage savings over two years through a “wage freeze.” Yet, without any deal, he could achieve $770 million in wage savings. The simple truth is that wages can only be raised by contract. No contract, no raises.
The state House of Representatives took a significant step July 24 toward solving Connecticut’s fiscal crisis by ratifying a concessions deal with the state workforce. The State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) agreement now heads to the state Senate for further consideration. If passed by the state Senate, the savings achieved by this historic deal are substantial and unprecedented.
Last month, we learned that insurance giant Aetna, after operating in Hartford for 160 years, will move to New York. But Connecticut’s loss is not New York’s gain. In fact, it’s a losing proposition for working families in both states.
Connecticut is at risk of losing an opportunity to boost the state’s economy and create hundreds of jobs unless lawmakers act quickly on pro-growth legislation. With just hours before the regular legislative session comes to a close, the legislature has yet to pass a bill seeks to change existing laws related to vehicle sales, allowing manufacturers — such as Tesla — to open brick-and- mortar stores across Connecticut where they can sell cars directly to consumers.
If there were a proposed policy that would create more jobs in our state, would you support it? If you could cut taxes and regulations on small businesses and entrepreneurs, would you do it? If you could help ex-offenders stay in a job and out of prison, would you help them? Thankfully, the General Assembly is considering two licensing reform bills that would accomplish these goals by cutting red tape.