Fred Camillo: What Happened to The Land of Steady Habits?

Submitted by Fred Camillo, Jan. 25, 2016

For more than two centuries, Connecticut has been known as “The Land of Steady Habits.”

That moniker now seems to take on a different meaning – one with a much more negative light. The only things that have been  steady and predictable these past eight years are deficit mitigation plans, low business competitiveness rankings, and negative migration movements, all due to the population decrease of the past few decades, affordability and quality of life issues, high taxes, and business un-friendliness. More bluntly, Connecticut is becoming a place to be “from,” rather than to be in. So, what happened?

Starting in 1991 when the state income tax was established, Connecticut has experienced flat private sector growth. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (  FDIC ), no other state has experienced such job stagnation.  It is never a good thing when the state is the largest employer.
Moreover, a very successful manufacturing state from the early 19th Century until well into the 20th, Connecticut declined to the status of insignificant in this area, too.
On top of all this, recent large and retroactive tax increases have been cited as the reasons for the state losing a net average of slightly over 38 people a day for the past few years as well as experiencing the devastating departure of General Electric, a giant presence here since 1974.
What can Connecticut do to regain what was lost? What can it do to chart a new, bright, and sustainable path to prosperity?
Editorial space restrictions will limit the answers here, but in short, Connecticut must lower, not raise, taxes across the board; it must protect our environment while being reasonable by working with all stakeholders; and it must take lessons learned from the GE debacle and work toward an integrated landscape where universities, government, and business collaborate.
On some levels, Connecticut has shown a willingness to broaden the job creation canvas by focusing on bio-science and not just on the financial sector. That should pay dividends in the near future. Also, the Connecticut Dept. of Labor has forecast an increase of 2.5%  for personal income for Q1- 2016. Increases in personal disposable income can indicate an uptick in consumer spending, which can lead to additional gains in other areas of the economy.
Lastly, as GE’s exit from Connecticut was announced, Governor Malloy remarked about how the move “hurt,” and how he hoped our state would adapt and learn to become more competitive. My only hope is that he meant it, and that his fellow Democrats and my colleagues and friends across the aisle will heed his admonition.
Connecticut is a beautiful state with a great location and educated citizenry. To accept the failed results and policies of the past several years would not only be foolish, it would be negligent. We can, and we must, do better.