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October 22, 2018 Newsmakers

Joe Brennan | President & CEO, Connecticut Business & Industry Association

CBIA CEO Joseph Brennan

As president and chief executive of Connecticut's largest business lobby, Joe Brennan is looking to encourage business-friendly policies this election cycle.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) doesn't endorse gubernatorial candidates, but in August it unveiled a marketing and advertising campaign dubbed “Fix Connecticut.”

The approximately $600,000 campaign will run digital, broadcast and print ads through the start of the 2019 General Assembly session, according to CBIA.

Brennan, who has been at the CBIA for 30 years and was named CEO in 2014, said the messaging campaign promotes issues business officials care about, including predictable spending and tax policies; a sustainable pipeline of skilled, world-class talent at all levels of employment; a competitive cost structure for healthcare, energy and other workplace costs; and efficient transportation and telecommunications infrastructures.

Can you describe the core tenets of CBIA's “Fix Connecticut” campaign?

The Fix Connecticut campaign is designed to help educate state residents and lawmakers about five core tenets: prioritizing economic and job growth, reducing state spending, making Connecticut more affordable for businesses and individuals, reforming the state employment retirement system, and improving Connecticut's business climate.

What is the best action and the worst action taken by the Malloy administration as it pertains to the business community?

One initiative of the Malloy administration that we hope will have the most lasting impact is the education reform legislation enacted to ensure that every student in the state gets a quality education. The most troubling was the series of large tax increases without sufficient changes to state employee retirement costs to close budget gaps.

CBIA doesn't endorse gubernatorial candidates, but what policies is it endorsing this election cycle?

The newly elected governor and the new legislature will have to close a projected deficit of over $4 billion over the next two years without resorting to harmful tax increases. Beyond that, workforce-development issues are paramount, along with making the state more attractive for all businesses, including startups.

How do CBIA priorities translate to voters who are not business owners/executives?

Our priorities are usually the same ones voters identify when asked about their most important issues — the economy, jobs, their children finding good jobs here, companies growing here rather than leaving, etc. I believe our issues clearly resonate with all voters, not just business owners.

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