Lawmakers need to take care of business

PRIVATE companies that have massive debt and shrinking revenue turn to the "continuous improvement process," an established way to strengthen products, services and operations on an ongoing basis.

Since the state faces unprecedented budget deficits and a declining tax base, the New Haven Manufacturers Association is urging state legislators to adopt "CIP" and start on the road to economic recovery. Politics as usual won't do.

While legislators recently came together to close most of the $371 million deficit in fiscal 2010 without raising taxes, a bruising battle still looms over the $725 million deficit projected for fiscal 2011. Proposals to raise estate taxes and levy new taxes on hospitals will be debated during the next session.

Lawmakers agreed on some spending cuts, and that is progress. However, one-time cuts are not going to solve the long-term problem of overspending. State officials have forecast a staggering budget deficit of $3.9 billion in fiscal 2012.

This is a runaway train, and it's past time to slam on the brakes. The answer does not lie in imposing more job-killing taxes, but in cutting spending.

Solving the state's woes must involve long-term changes to the philosophy of state government to resuscitate our economy, replace the 80,000 jobs lost in the economic downturn and create the momentum needed to turn Connecticut into a destination for businesses and job seekers.

The key to all that lies in promoting and celebrating free enterprise. Private businesses will lead Connecticut out of the economic wilderness, not government. Business growth will produce a strong work force, which in turn will generate the tax revenue needed for public services and infrastructure.

State officials should start the process in-house, turning a lens on state operations by adopting a CIP to reduce state spending and taxes by uncovering waste and implementing more efficient operations. Part of the process must include a hard look at contracts with state employee unions. Unions create rigidity. The state is piling up legacy costs that will rival GM's disastrous record in terms of its effects on state residents.

In conjunction with the Connecticut Manufacturing Coalition and the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, we urge state lawmakers to ensure a vibrant economic future by:

  • Focusing on improving the business climate to foster job creation.
  • Using results-based accountability in government.
  • Setting state employees' wages and benefits on a level with private-sector workers.
  • Creating incentives to help reduce citizens' dependence on state services.
  • Reducing unfunded liabilities on the state and municipal levels.
  • Boosting investment in innovation and productivity by making tax policy more fair and implementing taxes and regulations more predictably.
  • Helping manufacturers by creating tax-exempt investment savings accounts.

There is time for lawmakers to change course and adopt a positive policy to foster Connecticut's competitive position, helping business owners create more jobs and lead the way to prosperity for all.

©2010, a Journal Register Property