Defense Spending

As reported last week in a CT21 policy brief, the defense sector in Connecticut is in the midst of a growth period, but a major challenge remains training a workforce that is able to keep up with demand.

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Government Job Loss

A new report says the government sector lost the greatest number of jobs in Connecticut last year and the trend is expected to continue.

Whether this is a good or bad development can be argued both ways, but one thing is clear; continued pressure on state and local government budgets is leading to greater emphasis on trimming the workforce as a means of reducing costs.

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Time for a Change

Retired Webster Bank economist Nicholas Perna says Connecticut needs to stop making excuses and do what has to be done - including changing rules if necessary - to pull itself out of what amounts to a budget state of emergency.

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Spending Cap

Since its inception in 1991, Connecticut's spending cap has never been legally defined by the legislature.

Monday, the process continues. A public hearing will be held concerning nearly 20 bills covering the spending cap topic. At the very least, the discussion will lead to general debate over how to control the state budget.

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CT21 Policy Brief Considered

The CT21 policy brief on the Connecticut defense industry is getting notice in important Connecticut publications.

Both the influential Hartford Business Journal and the Day of New London featured articles Wednesday on CT21's latest research effort which concludes Connecticut workforce policy needs to focus on providing skills training for our growing defense sector.

The Day - CT Role in Expanding Defense

Hartford Business Journal - Incentivize Defense Workforce

The Defense Workforce

The Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century sees opportunity and challenge in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing sector and outlines paths to success in a new policy brief.

Even before any proposals to expand U.S. defense spending are written into the federal budget, Connecticut’s three largest defense contractors are planning important workforce expansion over the next ten years to meet current demand. This expansion will also create opportunities for the hundreds of sub-contractors these major employers rely on. While this is good news for the Connecticut economy, it also presents challenges created by an aging workforce and a training pipeline for new workers that needs improvement.

The policy brief, titled The Defense Workforce: How Connecticut Can Promote Growth and Rentention, was researched and written by Loren Deahly Mahler, a CT21 Senior Fellow with extensive experience with the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and on Capitol Hill.

Social Service Shift

State legislators are being urged, from a variety of directions, to rely more on private providers of social services as a means to decrease state spending and improve outcomes. It is an approach long advocated by CT21.

It is important however for lawmakers to resist the temptation to under-fund these programs as a means to balance the budget.

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Vo-Tech Training

According to the Hartford Business Journal, high school students are beginning to see that they might have a future in manufacturing, but the state is facing a new problem and that is a shortage of vo-tech instructors to provide the necessary training.

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Sales Tax Hike Possible

Legislative Democrats are talking openly about the possibility of raising the sales tax as a means to balance this year's budget.

The discussion comes as the two main budget writing committees near their deadlines and as the legislature as a whole faces $3 billion in deficits over the next two fiscal years. As part of the discussion on new taxes, the House Speaker is now saying the return of tolls to Connecticut highways is "inevitable."

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Second Chance

A new survey says Connecticut employers are overwhelmingly in favor of hiring workers who have been previously incarcerated. The poll findings are being released as the legislature debates whether to more forward with Governor Malloy's "Second Chance Society" reform measures.

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Malloy Standing by His Budget

Despite legislative efforts to find alternatives to Governor Malloy's budget, Malloy says he is standing by his original proposal to enact a new formula for school funding. He also says he will not allow the legislature to balance this year's budget using gimmicks.

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Business Incentives

A proposal to require outside review of state incentives used to attract businesses to Connecticut is once again up for consideration.

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Budget Debate

There is talk at the state capitol that many members are trying to plan their summer vacations around the idea that they may be stuck into special session to complete work on the state budget long after the regular session has concluded.

The challenge of producing a balanced budget this year is so difficult, political observers suspect any final deal will be crafted and agreed to behind closed doors in negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders.

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Open Data

A legislative committee is considering whether to put into law an executive order requiring state government agencies to make certain sets of data open and available to the public.

Codifying the practice into law would likely improve data sharing by state government and make it easier for the general public, watch dog groups and policymakers to take advantage of large amounts of electronic data the state controls - which could in turn lead to new ideas to more efficiently manage state and local government.

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Toll Debate Open

The legislature's Transportation Committee has advanced a bill that would bring electronic tolls to some state highways.

Tolls were eliminated from state roads in the late 1980's over safety concerns and the legislature has been reluctant to bring them back because they are seen as an new form of taxation. The state's chronic shortfall in funding is driving the debate to reconsider the issue. Some lawmakers believe tolls are the only way to raise the revenue needed to maintain Connecticut's highways and bridges.

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Tolls?

In the middle of a legislative session dominated by debate over the state budget, the influential Hartford Business Journal editorial page is arguing in favor of the re-institution of tolls on Connecticut highways.

The paper says it is the only way to re-build the state's roads and bridges and invest in the transportation projects of the future.

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Time Running Out

In an op-ed on the CT Mirror's Viewpoints page, David Walker, the former U.S. Comptroller General, says he sees positive signs as Connecticut considers its budget. But he also says, time is running out on sensible solutions.

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Extension

For weeks there have been rumors at the state capitol that the depth of Connecticut's budget challenges may force the legislature into a summertime special session. Any delay would make it difficult for local governments to plan their budgets.

There is word today that the governor and legislative leaders may pass a special act to give cities and towns more time to complete their budgets while they wait for the legislature to determine local aid formulas.

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Is It Time for Regionalism?

With few good options available to balance budgets, necessity may force the legislature and Connecticut cities and towns to embrace regionalism.

The concept of cost sharing between local governments is one of the founding principles behind CT21. Veteran reporter Tom Condon looks at the issue for the Connecticut Mirror.

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Budget Forecast

Comptroller Kevin Lembo says the state budget remains "marginally in the black."

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Education Funding

The plaintiffs in the court case that has put Connecticut's education funding system at the center of the budget debate are calling for a study of the entire system.

As the legislature weighs how to react to a Superior Court decision highly critical of school funding the plaintiffs say the only way to get it right is to study a rebuild of state school funding from the ground up.

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Deficit Grows

The Office of Fiscal Analysis is forecasting a $65 million budget deficit for this year.

There is also word that smaller payments from wealthy Connecticut residents is having an impact on this year's income tax revenues. The news comes as lawmakers try to plug what they recognize as a $1.5 billion gap in revenues and requested spending.

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Fundamental Differences

An analysis of a meeting of the legislature's Education Committee this week reveals how difficult it is to change the legislature's approach to budgeting. 

As the CT Mirror reports, the Malloy administration has been attempting to stress the need to make spending decisions based on "available resources." Many in the legislature are more likely to try to assess needs first and then find the money to match those needs.

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HBJ Backs Malloy's Budget

The influential Hartford Business Journal is praising Governor Malloy's February budget proposal.

In an editorial this week, the business weekly says "no one was going to be held harmless" in a budget world dominated by multi-billion dollar shortfalls. The HBJ says Malloy was right to hold the line on individual and corporate tax increases citing the need to maintain a positive business climate.

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