By MARA LEE | The Hartford Courant
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy gave a blunt talk Wednesday about his proposed budget, which includes $1.5 billion in tax increases, saying, “I understand there is something in this bill for everyone to hate,” and more than 500 business owners, executives, lawyers and Chamber of Commerce members chuckled in agreement.
Some of the questions at the Connecticut Business and Industry Association event at the Capitol reflected that fact that some business owners and advocates think they can roll back some of the tax provisions. A woman from Southwest Connecticut pleaded with Malloy to preserve 30 percent tax credits for film producing, saying a studio in her part of the state won’t be successful without them
Malloy said he welcomed the chance to go on record against the credit as currently written. “Giving 30 percent tax credits to catering trucks coming out of New York City to Stamford and Darien is not something I can support,” he said. “We will not support people who run back to New York City with their equipment, who run back to New York City with their catering trucks, who run back to New York City with their infrastructure. If this is meant to develop an industry in Connecticut, it better be in Connecticut.”
But other questions showed appreciation for Malloy’s shared sacrifice approach.
“You’re right there’s something in this budget for every business to hate,” a man said. “However, I think businesses will all pull together if you can get concessions from the state labor unions.”
House Minority Leader Larry Cafero got an even warmer reception from the audience as he complained the governor’s budget doesn’t cut spending at all, only cuts 150 employees out of 47,000, and doesn’t privatize any functions.
“The people who share the mindview I have are in the minority,” Cafero said. “Please do not let this be the last time you’re in this building this year. Get in the face of every legislator in this building.”
Chris Budnick, one of the principals in his family’s business, Vanguard Plastics of Southington, said the state has to cut workers. His company had 45 people before the recession, and now has 30, as sales fell by a third, and is a long way to full recovery — sales are now 70 percent below pre-recession levels.
“I admire the governor’s candor, I admire his intelligence, but his mathematics is weak,” Budnick said.
Norm Ferron, owner of a plastic-injection molding business in Dayville with six employees, agreed. “That’s what frustrates us. The budget doesn’t match the rhetoric.”
Both Budnick and Ferron said they agreed with some increase in taxes to close the deficit.
But Budnick said the state needs to be hardnosed about its priorities, as his business has been. “We’re proposing spending on new things like the New Britain Busway for 7,000 people,” he said.
He worries about the term “concession,” which to him connotes temporary give-backs by state workers.
“I have no problem with you getting your lifetime medical benefits, your pension,” he said of the state workers, but he said that pension and that post-employment health insurance should be available starting at age 62 or 65, not at age 47, when some state troopers and prison guards retire.
Most of the attendees wore stickers that said: “Businesses Create Jobs.”
Even though Budnick’s company is too small to be affected by the paid sick leave mandate under consideration, he is against the bill, and feels it represents an attitude by legislators that business owners are greedy. He does not have paid sick days, instead choosing to spend on a bonus that rewards production goals.
“Most of my people have been there for almost two decades, and I have a very strong allegiance to them. My father taught me that,” he said. “It’s not like we’re evil starship troopers.”