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CBIA Urges Legislative Candidates to Sign "Pledge" to Advance Business Agenda for CT

Tuesday, October 13, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Paul Sicilian

Connecticut's largest business organization is taking a different approach this year as voters begin filling out ballots for legislative candidates in this most untraditional election season.  CBIA, in a departure from past practice, is calling for elected officials and candidates for office to pledge their support for an economic and jobs policy package that the organization says will drive the state’s COVID-19 recovery.

 

 

In recent years, CBIA has more overtly taken sides in legislative races, specifically endorsing candidates.  This year, whether or not candidates sign on to the CBIA “pledge” will be the organization’s deciding factor, sharing with the public the names of those legislators who have pledged their support of the CBIA agenda. The organization’s website, in its list of candidates in all legislative races, indicates with a notation which candidates have agreed to the CBIA pledge.

 

 

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima said the Rebuilding Connecticut pledge is part of a broad statewide campaign to raise awareness about the critical economic and job recovery issues the state faces.  DiPentima explained that the 11-point policy pledge is framed around a series of initiatives, including workforce development, urban renewal, infrastructure investment, small business relief, and delivering greater value to taxpayers.

 

 

“We’re asking elected officials and candidates for office to sign on and support these common sense policy ideas,” DiPentima, recently selected to lead the organization, explained. More than 75 elected officials and candidates, have already signed the pledge, according to CBIA. “The initial bipartisan response to the pledge has been very encouraging,” DiPentima said. “A successful economic and jobs recovery demands a change in thinking and a bipartisan approach.”

 

 

The plan calls for repeal of the 6.35% state sales tax on employment training and safety apparel, including personal protective equipment, for the state to restore the pass-through entity tax credit to its original 93%, pointing out that the 2019 reduction costs small businesses $53 million annually; and to restore the R&D tax credit to attract entrepreneurs, foster startup businesses, and promote private sector investment.

 

 

It also calls for “expanding the use of nonprofit organizations to deliver state services, implementing broad-based technology solutions, cutting duplicative state functions, and eliminating overtime and mileage in pension calculations,” and commits those signing the pledge to support streamlining the “professional licensing process, remove barriers for apprenticeship training requirements, and recognize equivalent out-of-state licenses for those moving here to increase workforce strength.”

 

 

In State Senate contests, 13 candidates have signed the pledge according to CBIA, including one race in which both candidates have done so – the 33rd district, in which incumbent Democrat Norm Needleman is being challenged by Republican Brendan Saunders.  Overall, 8 Republicans, 3 Democrats – incumbent Cathy Osten in the 19th District, challenger Jack Perry in the 16th, and Needleman - and 2 Independent or third party candidates have signed on thus far, with three weeks remaining before Election Day, and thousands of absentee ballots streaming already into town offices. 

 

 

The preamble to the pledge says “I’m supporting a package of commonsense ideas that provide the revenue to support essential state services while creating a positive climate for growing jobs and driving critical investments in infrastructure and our cities.  I support each of the following policies, developed with the input of residents and employers from around Connecticut. These ideas will help Connecticut employers—particularly struggling small businesses—manage the high costs of navigating COVID-19 restrictions, create and retain jobs, and lead the state’s economic recovery and growth for the benefit of all residents.”

 

 

In 2016, CBIA endorsed 102 General Assembly candidates, a majority of them Republicans, in what was widely seen as an effort to swing a longstanding Democrat major into a Republican majority.  The effort came close, as the resulting State Senate had an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, causing a precedent setting power-sharing agreement.  In the Senate, the business organization had endorsed 18 Republican candidates and four Democrats. In the 151-seat House, 61 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

 

 

In 2018, the business organization endorsed candidates, including from both major political parties in 19 of 36 Senate races and in 98 of the 151 House races. Most were Republicans.  In 2014, CBIA endorsed 15 Republicans and five Democrats in Senate races; and 53 Republicans and 14 Democrats for House seats.

 

 

 “These initiatives will provide the revenue to support essential state services while creating a positive climate for growing jobs and driving critical investments in infrastructure and our cities,” DiPentima noted.  “And they will help Connecticut employers—particularly struggling small businesses—manage the high costs of navigating COVID-19 restrictions, create and retain jobs, and lead the state’s economic recovery and growth for the benefit of everyone.”

 

 

CBIA also indicated that the pledge has attracted the early support of dozens of businesses and organizations.  Connecticut residents can also sign on to the pledge at the CBIA website. A video in support of the initiative has also been produced. 


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