Bipartisanship that produced last year's state budget has abruptly ended, Connecticut's largest business group says. Agreement on a constitutional spending cap and a bonding cap on construction projects that concluded the longest budget stalemate in ...and more »
Bipartisanship that produced last year’s state budget has abruptly ended, Connecticut’s largest business group says.
Agreement on a constitutional spending cap and a bonding cap on construction projects that concluded the longest budget stalemate in state history last October sparked optimism that Democrats and Republicans were working together to control spending and end the chronic budget crises that make businesses recoil, said Brian Flaherty, senior vice president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
Instead, he said, lawmakers have let loose a new round of tax increase proposals and calls for more workplace rules and employer mandates.
“We’re chasing these bills all over the building,” Flaherty said .“February came around and it’s as if it’s let’s go back and add all these costs on businesses and make it harder to keep and grow jobs.”
Hundreds of business owners and representatives of chambers of commerce met at the Capitol Wednesday for the annual Business Day gathering that will highlight lobbying, urging lawmakers to limit taxes and business requirements.
They will be armed with an important statistic: The number of jobs in Connecticut increased last year by just 5,500, or 0.5 percent, highlighting a critical weakness in the state’s economy. However, government contraction played a role in the slow jobs growth and manufacturing employment is strong.
CBIA is fighting proposals to raise the top two state income tax rates to 6.99 percent from 6.9 percent and to 8.99 percent from 8.9 percent and it criticizes a separate plan to keep the corporation surcharge due to expire in 2019. It dropped this year to 10 percent, from 20 percent and would be set at 8 percent.
Businesses also oppose a plan to separate state and federal tax laws related to change depreciation schedules affecting manufacturers; imposing a tax to cover state labor department wages and benefits and limiting a cap on combined tax reporting to manufacturers only.
Other proposals would raise the hotel occupancy tax to 17 percent from 15 percent, set a 7 percent tax on restaurant sales, boosting real estate conveyance taxes and add a $3 fee on new tire sales.
Sen. Scott Frantz, the Republican co-chairman of the legislature’s finance, revenue and bonding committee, said he doesn’t “see much of this going through.”
“There’s hardly anything worth moving forward,” Frantz said. “There’s nothing I like here.”
He called the hotel tax egregious. “Why are we raising it again?” he asked.
Rep. Jason Rojas, the House chairman of the finance, revenue and bonding committee, said lawmakers are looking to restore cuts in education funding, municipal aid and the popular Medicare Savings Program that has figured in a budget battle between the legislature and Malloy.
“That’s going to take revenue,” said Rojas, D-East Hartford.
And he said lawmakers can find revenue to restore funding while protecting “business priorities.”
Proposed taxes are just half the battle for business and may never make it into law because the session ends May 9 and tax increases are tough to do in an election year.
New workplace laws being developed also are drawing opposition from businesses.
“The labor stuff takes up a lot of our time,” said Joe Brennan, president of the CBIA.
Due to the spotlight of national attention, sexual harassment, pay equity and other issues are at the top of the General Assembly’s agenda.
In addition, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, in his State of the State speech last month, called on employers to base salaries on the qualifications of a job applicant, a reference to the practice of requiring prospective workers to detail their salary histories.
The governor also called for legislation expanding the state’s paid sick leave law, a uniform standard for anti-harassment training and a higher minimum wage.
Lawmakers also are drafting family and medical leave legislation that would offer up to 12 weeks leave for a worker due to health reasons or to take care of a family member. Compensation would be provided from a state-administered trust fund.
Brennan said CBIA is involved in negotiations to craft legislation in a way that would be acceptable to businesses.
“Obviously, you don’t want to be out there saying these are all bad ideas, but ...we have to weigh it against the costs,” he said.
business casual business business insider business lease business english business model canvas business class business card mockup business formal business plan