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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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