Surprisingly, it has become acceptable for many outside Connecticut — and even some inside — to run our state down.
Spreading fear that our state's best days are behind us for ideological and partisan purposes is a cynical and dangerous strategy. It serves to drain confidence from businesses in our state, slow Connecticut's economic recovery and make us less competitive. It's bad for business, and it's bad for the people of Connecticut.
The Malloy administration's approach is fundamentally different. Our agenda for Connecticut — created with a lot of input from our business community — is dedicated to cultivating a business climate second to none, and built to last. We are building on our considerable strengths and addressing areas that need improvement.
We're bullish on Connecticut. That's why we're investing so heavily in it.
The key to Connecticut's world-class productivity — and the valuable jobs that come with it — is our talented workforce. That's why we've passed landmark education reform and committed billions of dollars to educating the technical and engineering workforce our business community needs now, and in the coming decades.
Our workers need a place to live, and they and the products they produce need to get from one place to the next in a timely way. That's why we've committed historic levels of investment to workforce housing and transportation infrastructure.
Our people and our employers need stable and competitive energy costs. That's why we've developed our state's first comprehensive energy strategy — including substantial investment in infrastructure — which will help our state lead, as our nation becomes energy independent.
For a thriving Connecticut economy, our businesses must be confident that our state government will be able to meet its obligations and that wild swings in policy — especially tax policy — will not be necessary.
First and foremost, that means our state government's fiscal house must be in order.
That's why Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's first action as governor was to say that — after decades of out-of-control spending, and failure to fund our pension and other long-term obligations — we were drawing the line, and would meet our current and future commitments on an ongoing basis. Just like our businesses do.
It's why we made a historic investment in our pension system, positioning us to capture the benefit of investment growth (over 11 percent in fiscal 2013) and thereby reducing our forecasted contributions — saving our taxpayers billions of dollars.
It's why we restructured our contractual agreements with our state employees, saving us tens of billions of dollars over the next decade and, even more important, forging a stable and sustainable relationship with our state workforce.
We still have plenty of work left to do, but we've accomplished a lot, and the results are beginning to show.
The $3.7 billion budget deficit that Gov. Malloy inherited from his predecessor — the worst in the nation — is gone.
We've held the line on spending, with just 1.3 percent growth in the general fund last year, compared with 7.3 percent in the years before the recession, and met our long-term obligations.
We finished fiscal 2013 with a $312 million surplus, much of that going into the state's rainy day fund. And there was actually a reduction — of more than $100 million — in the cost of our state workforce.
We've experienced the best two-year record of private-sector job creation since the late 1990s.
And the only state in New England that saw a drop in electric rates over the last year? Connecticut.
For the first time in a generation, our state government and our business community are working together to cultivate a positive environment where confidence that our state is on a sound and strengthening trajectory can grow.
There should be no doubt that the difficult steps we have taken to put our state's fiscal house in order — and the commitments we've made to invest in infrastructure, housing, energy and education — were based on data and reason. These steps were taken in close consultation with Connecticut's business leaders, with a shared commitment to the best interests of the people of Connecticut.
Those who seek to undermine the confidence of the people of Connecticut in our business community and in our government — whatever their intentions — do us all a great disservice.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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