Connecticut's economic troubles have hit home with this state senator. My youngest son, a student at UConn Law School, recently advised my wife and me that Connecticut is going "nowhere" and that he was leaving, and indeed he left! Forbes Magazine has rated Connecticut 47th for business costs, and Chief Executive Magazine has rated us at 45th in regard to excessive taxes, regulation, and unemployment. The president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association recently stated, "Business leaders consistently tell me that our recent state budget deficit cycle, with the threat of increased taxes and unfunded liabilities, is the biggest drag on their willingness to make investments in this state." To this message of economic doom from Connecticut's naysayers, I do believe that help is coming and that the people of Connecticut will soon see significant improvements in our state economy.
The State Legislature and the governor have created substantial financial incentives in the last two years, including grants, low interest loans, and tax credits to businesses. These incentives have created about 12,000 new jobs and appear to have retained another 30,000 jobs that were threatening to leave Connecticut. The incentives are particularly helpful to businesses of 100 or fewer employees through what is called the Small Business Express program. I have visited several businesses throughout my district that have found success, expanding and creating new jobs thanks to this program.
I predict that the State of Connecticut's renewed focus on boosting our economy will lead to an improved Connecticut of which we can all be proud. However, I understand that many will remain skeptical until our state recovers from these difficult economic times. Just last week I received a letter from a friendly college classmate and Connecticut resident who stated, "Connecticut has gone from a state that people wanted to come to for work and a good life to one from which successful people are now leaving, a recipe for disaster." My constituent mail is consistent.
There is no doubt that Connecticut is still recovering from the economic downturn, however, this is still a great state to call home and in which to raise a family. More impressive perhaps about our lives in Connecticut is a recent study by the Social Science Research Council that examined "human development" in the 50 states, defining "human development" as the relative health of our residents, knowledge acquired by degree attainment and school enrollment, and living standards reflected by income and economic security. The council rated Connecticut No. 1 in these quality of life matters. I imagine that those qualities are the reason why we stay in Connecticut and enjoy the life that it gives us. Nevertheless, we must do more to restore confidence in our state's economy, and that should be the goal of each of us, in his or her own way, in 2014. Happy New Year to all.