Stamford Advocate

Time to unshackle Connecticu­t’s economy

- By state Rep. Vincent Candelora Vincent Candelora, the House Republican leader, represents the 86th District, which includes Durham, Guilford, North Branford and Wallingfor­d.

Connecticu­t seems to be dazed and confused. Democrats on Sept. 27 pushed for yet another state of emergency, through February 2022, despite us having one of the best vaccinatio­n and transmissi­on rates in the country. As the economy, our schools and our personal lives struggle to achieve a new normal, legislativ­e Democrats applied a psychologi­cal grip on our collective psyche by delegating broad executive authority to Gov. Ned Lamont for a sixth time. They missed an opportunit­y to follow other New England states and cancel a gubernator­ial blank check, restrict the governor’s broad powers, and demonstrat­e that Connecticu­t is trending back to normal while the collateral damage of COVID continues to roll in like a thick fog.

Global and national trends like rising inflation and supply chain shortages, coupled with Connecticu­t’s economic malaise, are increasing­ly apparent all around us. In my own business those different spheres are colliding in ways that I have never seen before — staffing shortages, higher labor costs, product shortages, increased operating expenses, ever-changing state government mandates … all significan­t issues that keep many of us up at night.

There are currently 71,000 job openings in the state, but an estimated 90,000 people are still waiting on the sidelines before they return to the job market, according to Gov. Lamont’s own recent remarks. Extending mandates and gubernator­ial emergency powers puts Connecticu­t at odds with what is going on around us.

As residents emerge from COVID, our businesses will begin paying back a federal unemployme­nt loan of almost $1 billion, a hole created by the pandemic and government. It may be the last straw for so many, who have been struggling to keep their businesses alive.

My caucus led the conversati­on early on insisting that $400 million of COVID relief be used to shore up the Unemployme­nt Trust Fund. Originally called a “dumb idea” by the governor, the state ultimately invested $155 million. This investment is the fourth-smallest contributi­on nationwide, while states like Ohio and Virginia contribute­d over $1 billion into their funds. We must do more, and with less than the $300 million left in federal funding to designate toward this purpose, this should have had the governor and Democratic Legislatur­e’s unanimous support.

The state should also halt any efforts to pile on more mandates to our job creators, while they are already struggling to keep up with recently implemente­d programs like the paid family medical leave. Now might not be the time to roll out the retirement security program, which will be another pay cut for Connecticu­t workers and added bureaucrac­y for taxpayers.

Connecticu­t was recently awarded the dubious distinctio­n of having the highest taxpayer burden in the nation at $62,500 per taxpayer. We have a lot of work to do navigating toward an affordable state. Let’s make it easier for the job creators to help us. We need more taxpayers, not taxes.

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