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February 7, 2024

Business community welcomes Lamont’s commitment to fiscal guardrails

Contributed Gov. Ned Lamont answers questions from Chris DiPentima, CEO of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, at an association-sponsored event .

Gov. Ned Lamont’s legislative address to open the 2024 General Assembly session was well-received by business leaders, specifically regarding his commitment to fiscal guardrails put in place several years ago.

Lamont took to the Connecticut House floor Wednesday to address both chambers of the legislature and ring in this year’s short session, which ends in May. The second-term Democratic governor focused on initiatives outlined in last year’s budget, such as ramped-up investment in housing, workforce development and child care.

“Eight months ago, we passed – on a strongly bipartisan basis – a two-year budget which, unlike most of our peer states, is still in the black,” Lamont said. “That budget makes our state’s largest-ever commitment to childcare, K-12 education, our universities, workforce training, and not-for-profits.”

Lamont, on Wednesday, put forward a revsied $26.1 billion budget that makes less than $90 million in adjustments to the preliminary $26 billion budget lawmakers enacted last June for 2024-25.

It includes a plan to dramatically reduce Connecticut’s bonded debt using rapidly accumulating reserves from the state’s transportation program.

Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) President and CEO Chris DiPentima said maintaining the state’s fiscal guardrails — and keeping Connecticut’s budget in the black — is one of the top priorities for the business community in 2024.

The guardrails restrict spending and borrowing and require lawmakers to save a portion of annual state revenues.
“First and foremost, the fiscal guardrails are a priority of the business community to provide that predictability, that stability and certainty that businesses want when they're considering making investments, growing their facilities and adding to their headcount,”  DiPentima said following the governor’s speech. “So, that was great that he really continued to push holding the line there.”

The Connecticut chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), a small business advocacy group, shared a similar sentiment on the address.

"NFIB strongly agrees with the need for sound budgeting and stability, and to that end it is vital that the legislature follows Gov. Lamont’s lead and adheres to the fiscal guardrails that are in place,” NFIB State Director Andy Markowski said in a statement. 

“Main Street businesses across the state work hard to maintain stable budgets, and the legislature should work with Gov. Lamont to maintain a stable fiscal environment in our state that encourages startups and enables them to grow.”

DiPentima also said he supports the governor’s proposals for government modernization. Without using the word regionalization, which Lamont admitted tends to scare municipal leaders and legislators, the governor highlighted flexible budget funds that would allow regional councils of government to hire professionals contractually for member municipalities.

“He’s looking at government modernization, more government efficiency to maybe free up funding for the council of regional governments and putting some money there to create more regionalization and help those towns that can't afford certain services share them across multiple towns and be able to do them at a regional level,” DiPentima said.

The CBIA head also praised continued efforts to invest in workforce development, including child care and housing.

A CT Mirror report was used in the story.

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