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.
Amidst growing concern over the shaky financial conditions of California, Illinois, and New Jersey, my home state of Connecticut is often overlooked. Its size and population are relatively small, and its position between Manhattan and Boston make the state appear unimportant. Moreover, with some of the nation’s wealthiest communities — Darien, New Canaan, and Greenwich — how bad could things really be? Very bad, according to a 2016 study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The study calculated the fiscal health of each state according to its short- and long-term debt, unfunded pensions, and other key fiscal obligations. Connecticut came in the sickest of all.
As the owner of a small business in Colchester, I support paid family and medical leave as a critical safety net that will support workers during times of financial insecurity, when their last concern should be missing a paycheck. Contrary to the narrative spread by the big business lobby, a new poll shows that 77 percent of small business owners in Connecticut support paid family and medical leave. When respondents learn more about paid leave, including how a range of research has demonstrated its benefits for businesses, support for legislation climbs to 85 percent. And it’s easy to see why.
This past January, Connecticut lawmakers introduced two paid family and medical leave bills: Senate Bill No. 1 and House Bill No. 6212: An Act Concerning Earned Family and Medical Leave. The legislation passed through the Labor Committee successfully in March, but since then supporters of paid family leave have anxiously awaited further action from the Assembly. With less than a month to go before Connecticut legislators adjourn for the summer, Connecticut citizens need to demand that our representatives take action on these bills and pass paid family and medical leave in Connecticut.
The organizing efforts of black and white abolitionists in the 1800s can provide us with powerful inspiration as we face the dangers of Trump and the Republican majority. That’s one reason on May 18 I will be joining the upcoming celebration of Frederick Douglass’s first visit to the capital city at the Center Church (First Church of Christ in Hartford).
Connecticut’s legislature has proposed to create a task force to study the effectiveness, impact and cohesiveness of workforce development programs and initiatives in the state. The commitment to promote better coordination and collaboration and a more effective and efficient system for workforce development should be applauded. One of the first agenda items for the task force should be to identify and examine existing strategies that demonstrate cross-cutting, collaborative approaches to job training and employment and promise opportunity for residents who face the greatest challenges to obtaining a living wage.
Right now, in Hartford, state legislators are facing a decision that will have repercussions for Connecticut workers and taxpayers for years to come. The General Assembly is considering three different bills regarding the future of Connecticut’s gaming industry, and while they deliberate, thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in casino revenue sharing hang in the balance.
According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, nationally, women earn about 80 cents for every dollar earned by men and this gap is even more pronounced for women of color – black women earn 63 cents and Hispanic women earn 54 cents as compared to white men. This economic injustice affects not only women, but every man and child who has a woman in their lives.
A recent op-ed by Erik Cafarella propagates popular budget fictions—the same misinformation I heard at a recent Appropriations Committee hearing. While his op-ed claims Connecticut suffers under a heavy tax burden, a new report from the Center for Public Policy and Social Research at Central Connecticut State University found that Connecticut actually has the lowest business taxes per private sector worker in the region, and the lowest business taxes as a share of state and local taxes in the United States.
As a mayor, I start every day thinking about how our city can create the conditions for more economic growth, job creation and investment in our neighborhoods. And I know the same goes for mayors across the state. Along with the administration and leaders on both sides of the aisle, our number one priority is making Connecticut the best state in the country for families and businesses to build their future. And while there are many existing economic development tools we can use, there’s a new idea moving its way through Hartford that could have a substantial impact for Connecticut small businesses and homeowners—with positive benefits for our environment, too.
This year, Connecticut has an opportunity to shine as a leader in policies that combat the gender wage gap and support women, especially women of color, in the workforce. A year from now, on Equal Pay Day, I hope we can look back at our legislative accomplishments in 2017 and know that our future is one where Connecticut women and girls get paid what they are worth.
Forty-nine years ago tomorrow, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. On this anniversary, we are reminded of his legacy as thousands of underpaid workers, local racial justice activists, elected officials and clergy will take to the streets in two dozen cities across the country, including Hartford, to fight racism and raise pay.