Deadline Pressure

Facing a shortfall of more than $5 billion over two years, state lawmakers are moving into the final weeks of this year's legislative session with no clear direction about how to close the gap.


Economic Survey

A new survey of 500 Connecticut residents on the economic mood of the state shows both positive outlook and worrisome concern.

In general, respondents to the poll see reason for optimism, but also hold the view more needs to be done to make the state more friendly to job growth.


Rail Investment

While the state legislature focuses on the next two year budget, decisions being made over the next five weeks could have long term implications when it comes to where and how Connecticut chooses to invest in infrastructure improvements.

A new report issued by the transportation department suggests spending millions to update freight rail in central Connecticut could have benefits for the regional economy.


Budget Options Dwindling

Governor Dannel Malloy is warning of more than 4,000 state employee layoffs if state employee unions can't help him find $700 million in savings in the next two year budget. Talks are continuing, but Malloy warned unions Tuesday that there needs to be a sign of progress soon. The governor has proven in the past he is willing to resort to layoffs when necessary.

Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House is signaling a need for tax increases. With a budget shortfall topping $4 billion the speaker says it would be almost impossible to balance the budget without added revenue.

The legislature is scheduled to adjourn June 7th, but on-time completion of a budget is looking less likely with each passing day.

Full Time Legislature?

The influential Hartford Business Journal editorial page says last week's dysfunction at the state capitol on budget matters shows it is time to move toward a full-time legislature in Connecticut. The paper argues part-time lawmakers simply don't have the expertise it takes to run our state government.


Mini Analysis

Next week Governor Malloy and legislative leaders from both parties are scheduled to sit down to talk about an expanding state budget crisis.

This is not the usual end of session bargaining to bring the year's budget debate to a close. The meeting comes as income tax revenues to the state are falling unpredictably and the projected budget shortfall for the next two years is flooding over $4 billion. This week the legislature's Appropriations Committee failed to come to an agreement on a spending plan, Republicans offered a plan that appears to be out of balance, the Finance Committee agreed to the seemingly unrealistic goal of no new taxes and the governor's budget office ordered a hiring freeze.

Governor Malloy's own budget proposal, three months after its unveiling, is also out of balance based on the latest revenue figures.

All this is happening as the race for governor begins to take shape and the margins in the House and Senate suggest Republicans have an opportunity to actually win control of the legislature in the next round of elections.

To solve the current budget crisis lawmakers and the governor will have to make politically unpopular decisions, which will almost certainly include spending cuts and tax increases. While a June 7th resolution seems unlikely, delaying a final deal until later this year - in special session - will not make the choices any easier. It is possible the magnitude of the problem may force many lawmakers to vote for a budget deal they don't like and then decide not to seek re-election. 

Tax Summit

It is the time of year when the governor and legislative leaders would normally meet to begin final negotiations on the budget, but eroding tax revenues have prompted a call from the governor for an emergency, bi-partisan summit.

Falling tax receipts are putting new pressure on an already difficult situation.



Sign of Trouble

The legislature's Appropriations Committee failed Tuesday to pass a proposed spending plan for the next two years. The failure maybe a sign of things to come as a closely divided legislature tries to balance the state budget by June 7. Perhaps more important, the failure maybe a sign the legislature is unable to act with long term solutions in mind.


CT21 Urges Defense Workforce Development

By Loren Dealy Mahler

Economics 101 tells us that job creation leads to long-term growth, and any talk about improving the economy always centers on jobs. What we don’t often discuss, however, is what happens when there are more jobs than there are workers to fill them. When jobs go unfilled the economic benefit of creating them sits unclaimed.

Connecticut is on the verge of experiencing this rare situation. A glut of jobs in the manufacturing industry is headed our way, but if we don’t make the right investments now, the opportunity will be wasted.

Homeless Programs Working

Working in coordination with state government, non-profit groups like the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness have successfully reduced the homeless population in Connecticut, in the last five years, saving lives and tax dollars.

The state’s homeless population is estimated at about 10,000 people which represents a five year low. Efforts to reduce the homeless population are consistent with principles promoted by the Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century, because they tend to reduce the burden on taxpayers while improving the outcomes for the people receiving the benefit of state services.

Group Plan on Hold

A plan to privatize social services for the developmentally disabled has been put on hold and it appears the issue may have become part of the negotiations between the Malloy administration and state employee unions. Privatization of social services across government is believed to lower costs and improve outcomes in a variety of areas. Previous CT21 studies have confirmed better results at lower cost.


Budget Season Mini Analysis

As the legislature's budget writing committees move toward their deadlines to produce spending and tax packages, the pace is picking up at the state capitol. Rumors persist that the tough decisions that need to be made this year to bring the budget into balance may force the legislature into summer session.

Thursday Governor Malloy warned state labor unions and the employees they represent that he is prepared to layoff as many as 1,100 state workers in May, and leave more than 100 other positions unfilled, unless labor agrees to significant cost cutting concessions.

All this is taking place against a backdrop of the 2018 race for governor as new candidates step forward each day.

Search for Revenue

The legislature's tax writing Finance Committee is moving toward a deadline next week and along the way committee members seem to be considering every means possible to increase revenue to state government. There is still no consensus on where the committee will land or whether the final work product will be politically palatable to the legislature as a whole or to the governor.


Public/Private Communication Key

Despite Connecticut facing another year of difficult budgetary talks, there seems to be some positive developments on the horizon. Much more than in previous years, the public and private sectors are making the effort to talk with one another and work together on potential solutions for economic development. This is good news according to Vanessa Rossitto of BlumShapiro writing in the Hartford Business Journal.


Manufacturing Workforce

Unprecedented growth is projected for the aerospace and defense sector across our nation and our state. In Connecticut, companies like Pratt & Whitney, Electric Boat and Sikorsky have announced long-term contracts for military engines, commercial engines, submarines and helicopters that will spur technology advances and generate thousands of jobs not only within the original equipment manufacturers, but throughout the aerospace and defense supply chain.

A major challenge, however, persists — how to attract a next generation of talent needed to support the industry's expansion.


ICYMI-CT21 Defense Industry Brief

A CT21 policy brief on the Connecticut defense industry is getting wide attention as reports continue to show the defense industry growing in Connecticut at the same time challenges persist with regard to workforce development in the manufacturing sector.

For more details on our findings read the full policy brief under the "Reports" section of our website.

Moody's Warning

The Moody's bond rating agency is warning what many already know. The investor service says that Connecticut's fiscal situation is so dire, the state is in for years of struggle caused by high debt, high taxes and the resulting stumbling economy.


Guenther Named Executive Director, CT21

The Connecticut Institute for the 21st Century has named Robert Guenther as executive director.

Guenther, formerly of Webster Bank, has worked closely with the institute, or CT21 as it is commonly known, over the last seven years as a board member and representative on the steering committee. At Webster, Guenther was senior vice president for public affairs, where he directed all external communications and government relations.

Bail Reform

A bail reform bill designed to decrease the number of people being held behind bars because they can't afford to make bail has been sent to the House for consideration.

Governor Malloy has been pushing the legislation for two years now as a means to reduce costs.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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