Governor-elect Ned Lamont is still three weeks from taking office, but the head of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association is “encouraged” by what he’s seen so far.
“We’re excited about having someone with a business background being in the governor’s office,” CBIA President Joe Brennan said during an interview last week for the “Morning Record,” the Record-Journal’s daily news podcast.
Lamont, who takes over Jan. 9, has formed 18 different working groups to help him develop policy. Brennan is part of a group looking at the economy.
Brennan said Connecticut needs to adopt a budget that is balanced without “harmful” tax increases and does not increase the deficit. Lamont and the legislature also need to strengthen Connecticut’s workforce, he added.
He said Electric Boat, which projects it will need another 1,500 to 2,000 workers by 2030, has had success working with community colleges and other organizations to develop a program to train new employees.
“How can we replicate that successful pipeline around the rest of the state of Connecticut?” he asked.
Brennan said businesses believe it’s crucial for the legislature to address those issues and not “get bogged down” in other areas.
“Our concern is more, kind of, the direction of the Democratic caucuses,” Brennan said, raising concern about the progressive wing of the party.
The Progressive Caucus picked up members in the November election. Democrats as a whole regained control of the Senate, 23-13, and stretched out their majority in the House, 92-59.
Members of the caucus said during a press conference earlier this month that they plan to push for paid family medical leave, an increase in the minimum wage to $15, and the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Brennan said CBIA, which has opposed past efforts to increase the minimum wage and implement paid FMLA, said the organization hopes to offer suggestions that make the policies more palatable to businesses.
“I would say that we certainly have an understanding that, given the votes now, that these things are going to pass or are likely to pass,” he said.
Brennan also responded to criticism from Malloy, who said earlier this month that business owners have painted an inaccurate picture of Connecticut’s economy by being overly negative.
“I constantly talk about that on our website — anytime we get any good news, we’re pumping it out,” Brennan said. “But if I say one negative thing, all I hear from everybody is ‘oh, you’re always so negative.’”
He said the state’s economy, though, continues to lag behind states in New England and around the country, demonstrating why the legislature needs to make growth its top priority.
To hear more from Brennan, listen to the “Morning Record” at https://bit.ly/2GoypHe
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