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Survey: Biz want next gov. to slash spending, reform state employee retirement benefits

BY Matt Pilon

9/6/2018
HBJ file photo
HBJ file photo
CBIA CEO Joe Brennan.
Ahead of "what is arguably one of the most critical election campaigns in the state's history," the Connecticut Business & Industry Association released a survey finding that companies care most about controlling government spending and reforming the state employee retirement system.

CBIA's 17th annual survey of businesses also found a dim outlook, with just 18 percent of the 313 respondents believing the state's economy would grow in the 12 months ending July 2019. Connecticut's GDP has shrunk in four out of the last five years, including by 0.2 percent in 2017.

Asked what the top priority should be for Connecticut's next governor and General Assembly, 37 percent of respondents said cutting spending and retirement system reform, followed by 30 percent who said to focus on the economy and business climate, and 29 percent who answered the budget and fiscal stability. Though taxes have become a key issue in the ongoing gubernatorial race, just 18 percent said lowering taxes was the biggest priority.

Meanwhile, 71 percent said Connecticut's economic struggles would have a greater impact on their votes for governor and legislators in the upcoming election, compared to previous elections.

Nearly one-quarter are "very concerned" about the impact of federal tariffs, such as those on steel and aluminum, while 30 percent were "somewhat concerned."

Other survey findings include:

  • 39 percent expect their workforces will grow this year, while 51 percent predict they will remain flat.
  • 61 percent believe the state's business climate is in decline, while 10 percent say it's improving.
  • 81 percent disapprove of the legislature's performance related to the economy and job creation.
  • 64 percent believe the cost of non-tax government mandates is the biggest factor inhibiting business growth.
  • 69 percent of respondents said they had profits in 2017, up from 66 percent a year prior.
  • 66 percent reported difficulty in finding or retaining Millennial hires, while 33 percent reported no difficulty.