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In An Election Year, Democrats Outline Jobs Proposals For 2014

by Hugh McQuaid & Christine Stuart | Jan 14, 2014 3:31pm
(14) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Jobs

Hugh McQuaid Photo

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey and Senate President Donald Williams

Democrats plan to set aside more money to subsidize wages or job training for newly hired workers as part of their 2014 plan to create jobs in Connecticut, which they announced at a Tuesday morning press conference.

During the event at the state Capitol, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey told a story likely to trouble any public official in an election year: upon learning he was a legislator, a resident informed him last week that politicians “don’t really understand what’s going on in the real world for people like me.” He said he realized it was strong feeling among the people in Connecticut who feel financially insecure.

“That’s why 2014 has to be focused . . . like a laser beam on the needs of those working families in Connecticut who need our help,” he said.

Many of goals summarized by legislative leaders will be to expand upon or re-fund successful programs originally passed during a special session on jobs in Fall 2011. That includes a proposed reauthorization of the Subsidized Employment Training Program or STEP UP, which subsidizes salaries of new employees for the first six months they’re on the job.

Since implementing the program, the state has borrowed $20 million to fund the initiative. It has exhausted all but $2.5 million in the process of subsidizing the wages of about 2,000 new workers, according to information from legislative Democrats.

“We are going to need to recapitalize that program in this year because it has been so successful that most of the funds for it have been drawn down already,” Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney said.

Senate President Donald Williams said legislative leaders do not yet have an agreement with the governor’s office on how much money will be set aside to fund the program. However, he said another $20 million authorization is their “target figure.”

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was at a different event in Hartford, said he just got a glimpse of the proposal and “in general terms I’m very supportive of what they’re talking about.”

He said he thinks STEP UP and other employment offerings, such as programs that give even bigger benefits to companies that train veterans, have been successful.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Bonnie Stewart, vice president of government affairs for the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, said legislative leaders outlined a positive agenda including the STEP UP initiative, which has been a helpful program for business. But she said the state should find another way to fund the subsidies rather than borrowing money.

“We don’t want to see greater bonding, but at the same time we think that it’s a good program. So I would say do a little extra work and find out where to get that money without bonding, if we can,” she said.

Bonded debt has increased from $19.8 billion to $20.9 billion over the last three years. In 2013, the state Bond Commission approved more than $1.79 billion in borrowing.

Malloy’s budget office estimated last week that paying for the borrowing in 2014 and 2015 will account for about 8.6 percent to 8.9 percent of state spending. By 2018 it’s expected to account for about 11 percent of the total amount of spending.

The agenda also included proposals aimed at cleaning up and reselling brownfield sites, providing general education and technical training to job seekers, and creating a quasi-public state Port Authority. Another idea the Democrats endorsed would shield businesses from unfounded patent litigation.

During the press conference, Democrats, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office, sought to distinguish Connecticut’s government from political inaction in Washington.

“We don’t have gridlock in the state of Connecticut. We get things done. Democrats work with Republicans,” Williams said.

But Republicans criticized Democrats Tuesday for their policies on taxes, regulations, and employer mandates. In a press release, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for governor, said the majority party’s policies have stifled the effect of the bipartisan jobs law.

“Speaker Sharkey and Senate President Williams need to understand that they will never have a successful jobs agenda until they get serious about creating a tax and regulatory environment that encourages economic growth. To date, they have failed to do so,” McKinney said.

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said that Democrats going into an election year tout what they’ve done to create jobs, and then turn around and pass legislation detrimental to business such as “Paid Sick Days” or an increase in the minimum wage.

“Those are things that kill jobs and what you hear from people all over the state is that we have a schizophrenic legislature,” Cafero said. “You say one thing and then you do another.”

However, Cafero, who has not announced whether he will seek another term, said he prefers to remain optimistic at the start of any legislative session.

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(14) Comments

posted by: dano860 | January 14, 2014  7:28pm

BORROW $20 M???
Bonnie thank you for saying what I was thinking as I was reading the story.
The State needs to apply a few of Chris Healy’s ideas. He wrote about them in an opinion piece in the Htfd. Courant…
http://touch.courant.com/#section/2354/article/p2p-78851956/
The only thing I could think of as I was reading is that the two big blue letters over Donnie’s head in the picture said it all.

posted by: Lawrence | January 14, 2014  7:43pm

House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said that Democrats going into an election year tout what they’ve done to create jobs, and then turn around and pass legislation detrimental to business such as “Paid Sick Days” or an increase in the minimum wage.


According to the Q-polls, paid sick and minimum wage are both supported by a majority of registered Republicans in the state, and by an overwhelming percentage of unaffiliated CT voters, yet CT Republicans just cannot bring themselves to vote for public policies that even their very own constituents support. They are too busy echoing national Tea Party politics and remaining beholden to the 1%, instead of representing the 99% (like Democrats do) that benefit from such policies.

That is a major reason why the CT GOP will be a permanent minority in the state legislature for the foreseeable future.

posted by: Noteworthy | January 14, 2014  8:14pm

Every election year, the Democrats roll out the tired old jobs card, along with new programs and new funding and old programs with new and expanded funded…all of it borrowed and of course, higher taxes because, hey, it’s about jobs. It’s really about them keeping their jobs not us keeping ours, or they would actually make life less expensive. Williams says we don’t have gridlock - they work with Republicans. Really? It’s true only if you think that passing “fake emergencies” and drafting secret legislation behind closed doors while completely ignoring the Republicans constitutes “working together.” Maybe he meant walking through the same door together or something like that.

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 14, 2014  8:34pm

Why has our Democratic leadership been planning for so long to create jobs?  Talk is cheap. We have no expressed plan to cope with our loss of Connecticut jobs in the last year.

posted by: Lawrence | January 14, 2014  10:38pm

“We have no expressed plan to cope with our loss of Connecticut jobs in the last year.”

Maybe CT defense contractors should stop accepting U.S. taxpayer money to offshore American jobs. How’s that for a start?

posted by: Art Vandelay | January 15, 2014  3:18am

Democrats have done everything possible to destroy jobs in Connecticut for the past 3 years.  Now that an election is on the horizon, they’re in job CREATION mode. I LOVE the Democrats.  They have my vote come November.

posted by: dano860 | January 15, 2014  9:07am

Here is the Q-poll of 4/12….
I don’t see where the Republicans support that effort. I’ll bet I can find the same results when it comes to ‘paid sick days’.

Minimum Wage

Connecticut voters support 70 - 28 percent raising the $8.25 per hour minimum wage. Support is 88 - 10 percent among Democrats and 69 - 28 percent among independent voters, while Republicans are divided 48 - 50 percent. Women support a hike 74 - 24 percent while men support it 65 - 33 percent.

Given several choices on the minimum wage:
34 percent of voters want to raise it to $9.25 per hour;
6 percent want to raise it to something less than $9.25 per hour;
27 percent want to raise it to more than $9.25 per hour;
28 percent want no increase.
Voters think 50 - 45 percent that small businesses will reduce the number of people they hire if the minimum wage is increased. Women agree 51 - 43 percent while men are divided 49 - 48 percent. A higher minimum wage will mean less hiring, Republicans think 65 - 32 percent and independent voters think 51 - 43 percent. Democrats don’t think there will be less hiring 57 - 36 percent.

“Every group, except Republicans, supports increasing Connecticut’s minimum wage. Although all income groups support a higher minimum wage, support declines with income,” said Dr. Schwartz.

From April 18 - 23, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,745 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percentage points. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.

posted by: jim black | January 15, 2014  9:39am

Cut taxes and stay out of peoples lives would be a good start. Wait, democrates can’t do that.

posted by: robn | January 15, 2014  10:07am

The “Jobs Pipeline” is a great marketing tool for the Democratic Party in New Haven but its results are tepid. New Haven Works has a budget off $1.2M and has placed 110 people in its first six months. Mathmtically it sounds good because annually that would be about $5,000 per job and in a poor city, that could be a god stabilization expenditure. However, what’s unclear is how many of those jobs would have been filled by residents anyway. Also, the impact is proportionally small compared to the number of unemployed in New Haven.

http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/job_pipelines_branch_out/

In the end, if state government can make the numbers work and be meaningful, fine, but don’t borrow money to do it. A good program should pay for itself.

posted by: joemanc | January 15, 2014  11:57am

“instead of representing the 99% (like Democrats do)”
Uhm, Lawrence, didn’t your liberal Democrat governor strike a deal with a hedge fund multi-billionaire to build a new hq for the world’s largest hedge fund? Tell me again how Democrats support the 99%...

posted by: ocoandasoc | January 15, 2014  1:32pm

So CT lawmakers have passed and funded so much special interest legislation that has stunted economic growth in the State that now they need to borrow money to be able to continue some programs that may partially offset the damage they’ve done.  This enables them to justify adding debt for needed programs, since from past experience they know that, even in an election year, voters will never put two and two together and realize that they only need to borrow for needed programs because they’ve squandered existing tax revenues on programs the State might well have been better off without.
And you have to love the politician “speak.” “Recapitalize” = “Borrow More.”
And by the way, if one buys into Speaker Sharkey’s apocryphal tale and believes in his ephiphany related to the “real world,” one must also wonder why in God’s name it took him this long and what misguided logic led him to the conclusion that putting the State even deeper in debt was the way forward?

posted by: Bluecoat | January 15, 2014  2:12pm

Two top ideas from the Progressive Party came out this past year.
1) Betsy Ritter Proposed a “Hoarder Tax” for businesses that did not spend enough money hiring people, and 2)House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz proposed a government run retirement system for State Residents - nothing but another Ponzi Scheme to steal money from the private sector and use to shore up the bankrupct state pension system.

Way to go Dem’s.
These two Never worked in the private sector, but keep scheming on how to steal money from it’s citizens.
These “Visions from the Self-Anointed” never cease to amaze me.
Leave us alone, lower everyone’s taxes, repeal the income tax, stop spending, and we will survive and prosper without your meddling!

posted by: Lawrence | January 15, 2014  9:13pm

Dano, you are correct, thank you for those numbers. I would say 70-30 is “overwhelming” support; obviously CT GOP voters were split. But only ONE Republican in the legislature voted FOR raising the minimum wage. So I believe that the balance of my argument—that CT Republicans, ON THESE TWO ISSUES, do not represent the wishes of CT residents, or of (half) their own party members, is correct. Perhaps the Rep. should have used other examples in his quote.

FYI, the paid sick leave Q-poll is from June 2011:

Connecticut voters support 72 – 25 percent a new law that requires large companies to offer five days of paid sick leave per year to employees. Support is 84 – 14 percent among Democrats, 50 – 44 percent among Republicans and 72 – 26 percent among independent voters. Men support the measure 63 – 34 percent while women back it 79 – 17 percent.

posted by: StanMuzyk | January 15, 2014  9:28pm

Is it jobs proposals—or, jobs propaganda?