A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Good commentary from the Waterbury Republican American.

And the author is a democrat, no less. When will ANYONE in power start listening?

When it comes to creating jobs, we can learn a lot from Texas

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Copyright © 2005 Republican-American

While you read this, people in Texas -- among other places -- are working to steal Connecticut jobs.

According to a recent report, they've been pretty successful. Webster Bank estimates that the country as a whole has regained 90 percent of the jobs lost since 2001, while Connecticut has recovered just 15 percent.

What's holding Connecticut back? Taxes and transportation are among the biggest factors and the governor's budget does little to address either.

Connecticut is one of the only states in the union that levies a tax on a manufacturer's machinery and equipment, and it's the second highest in the nation. This tax structure is a powerful disincentive for companies to reinvest in their Connecticut plants and keep their operations here. New Milford lost its largest private employer and taxpayer this summer when Kimberly-Clark Corp. shut its doors and moved its diaper production elsewhere. According to the state Labor Department, hundreds of other manufacturers are poised to do the same thing. The study predicts that between 2002 and 2012 Connecticut will lose nearly 19,000 manufacturing jobs, nearly 9 percent of the industry's work force. While some may be tempted to dismiss manufacturing and its importance as a relic of the old economy, people in Greater Waterbury know better. Despite the misguided tax structure and subsequent loss of jobs, manufacturing is still vital to our economy -- it represents a larger share of the state's work force than the nation as a whole. If Connecticut wants to protect and even grow manufacturing jobs, then our leaders should make repealing this tax a priority.

If manufacturing is one of Connecticut's established strengths, then bioscience is an emerging one. The Labor Department says as much, citing the fact that since 1992 employment in the biosciences has increased by 42 percent. It makes sense if you consider one the state's greatest resources: its people. Connecticut ranks second in the nation in the percentage of adult population holding college degrees, and seventh in the number of Ph.D. scientists and engineers per 1,000 population. This is clearly an industry in which the state can grow jobs and emerge as a national leader.

There's just one problem. In the governor's budget address, she proposed slashing two measures crucial for the industry's growth in the state. She proposed rescinding the $20 million research and development tax credit exchange program, approved by the legislature last year, (though she changed her mind last week), and proposed virtually eliminating a law that helps companies offset initial operating losses. At the same time, her budget calls for $20 million to be invested in stem cell research.

Wisconsin is investing $670 million, New Jersey $380 million. Never mind California and New York, each spending $1 billion on stem cell initiatives. Connecticut has the experience and work force to best any state, but right now its leaders don't have the vision or the optimism that we can compete and win.

We can learn something from Texas -- a state that's famous for thinking big. The simple fact is that efficient transportation attracts business and spurs growth, so Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, has proposed a $175 billion transportation program. Scaled down for Connecticut based on population, that would be $29 billion. Gov. Rell's equivalent is hardly equivalent. She calls for $1 billion spent over 10 years, enough to replace outdated Metro-North cars and maintain the inadequate system we have. That's better than letting it fall apart completely, but again, Connecticut is being shortchanged while other states make bold investments in their families' futures.

Not only must we invest in our roads, but also in building new commuter rail lines along the Interstate 91 and I-84 corridors and expanding ferry service to get more trucks off the interstate.

Government's role is not to produce jobs, but to create the framework in which the private sector can flourish. That framework can only be built upon a diverse and extensive infrastructure. When congestion and gridlock are allowed to choke economic potential, as they have in parts of Fairfield County, government has already failed.

To be sure, easing the burden on manufacturers, encouraging growth of the bioscience industry, and building a world class transportation infrastructure require an investment. How best to pay for it should be part of a statewide dialogue, but in the long run, sound investments -- ones that grow the economy and create jobs -- end up creating more wealth for our families: not baseball stadiums and convention centers.

This week, I came to Waterbury to present the findings of the Statewide Blue Ribbon Commission on Property Tax Burdens and Smart Growth Incentives, two controversial and inter-related issues facing our state. More than anything else, however, the report was about the need ... to tackle some established bad habits that are hurting our families.

I ended my presentation with a Winston Churchill quote: "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing -- after they've exhausted all the alternatives." Connecticut will address our transportation problems, our job creation problems, the out-of-control property tax, if we act boldly and replace complacency with determination -- or when we have such a mess that we have no other choice.

I must admit my motives are selfish. My wife Kathy and I have two boys in college right now; Dan attends UConn and Jim is at Providence College. I hope they can each find a job in Connecticut when they graduate, afford a first home and settle down. Sadly, states such as Texas as doing much more than we are to make that dream certain for its kids. We can do more.

John DeStefano Jr. has served as mayor of New Haven for more than 10 years, and has registered with the Secretary of the State's office as a Democratic candidate for governor in 2006.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent insight! This guy might get my vote for governor!

12:17 PM  

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