Take A Look At State Economic Tailspin
To the Editor,
Regarding last week’s editorial, while I appreciate the optimism, nothing will change without taking an honest look at our state’s economic tailspin.
It is not just taxes. Taxes are a symptom of the unfunded obligations that are exponentially increasing, resulting in new, larger deficits every budget cycle. This prompts searches for new revenue, either in the form of income taxes or the regressive nickel-and-dime taxes Lamont has pushed. Recently Warren Buffet warned businesses away from states with big pension problems. Without addressing the root causes, we create a climate of instability and future unknowns. That is a big part of why Connecticut is only 87 percent recovered from the recession while Massachusetts is over 300 percent recovered.
Connecticut boomed by leveraging a business-friendly environment, talented work force, good schools, and the ability to commute. Now our infrastructure funding is being crowded out (tolls will not fix it because the funding is fungible) and commutes take longer than ever. Six figure jobs are leaving, being replaced by lesser paying jobs like retail. In a state now dependent on the income tax that is unsustainable. Will we become competitive again? Not with special interests’ involvement in our elections and weak conflict of interest laws.
Massachusetts has been smart. They don’t often compete for companies that want to go to Florida or Texas, but to replace the outflow and win the companies that want to be in the Northeast, near an educated workforce with universities to partner with. They don’t need to beat the southern states, just do better than their neighbors Conn., R.I., and N.Y. Look what GE cited in their move from Connecticut to Boston. Now Raytheon UTC. People are following, yearly Connecticut loses thousands of students we educate, mostly to Massachusetts and New York.
Newtown needs to take the same objective look at our peers and relative circumstance. When I hear from people buying houses, they want to move to Newtown, but know their budget affords them only so much and with more money needed for taxes in escrow, they can afford less house here. It is a question of value. We need to be like Massachusetts, be cognizant of our neighboring municipalities and out-compete them for residents and the anchor businesses that will bring in the revenue and employees to support our local small business.
We should recognize not all spending is good spending and be discerning and engaged voters at elections and referendums. Simply passing budgets will not fix our town’s tax base and could price us out of the market.
Our economic development team does work very hard; however, it must do so within the confines of statute and subject to factors beyond their control. We can help them through civic engagement, with a focus on seeing the forest for the trees.
These comments are my own and not on behalf of the Legislative Council of which I am a member.
11 Jeremiah Road, Sandy Hook July 10, 2019