Three Policies to Build Connecticut’s Economic Future

My name is Will Haskell, and I’m the Democratic nominee to represent Ridgefield in the Connecticut State Senate.

Good governing is about more than just words. It’s about numbers. Here’s a real number: Connecticut’s income tax accounts for 56% of our general fund—the money that pays for our schools, protects our natural environment, and maintains our infrastructure.

That’s why I’m baffled to hear our incumbent state senator propose eliminating the income tax entirely. A 56% cut to state revenue is not fiscally conservative, it’s fiscally irresponsible.

Instead of promising reckless cuts, it’s time to build a sustainable economy from the ground up, an economy that values a well-trained workforce over tax-sheltered executives.

Connecticut boasts some of the best universities in the world. Yet from Yale to UCONN to our community college system, we consistently fail to keep graduates in Connecticut after they earn their degrees. As a state, we grew by just 1.7% in 2017, compared to 10% in Massachusetts and 6.6% in New Hampshire. We are missing out on an entire generation of smart, capable young people who are preparing to start families and small businesses—the very things that could sustain our population and rejuvenate a struggling economy.

There are policies that our state legislature can take right now to keep educated workers and their families in Connecticut. Here are the three most important:

First, a tax incentive for recent graduates of Connecticut colleges and universities who choose to live and work here after school. We’ve already tried slashing corporate taxes in the hopes that major businesses keep their headquarters here—it hasn’t worked. It’s time to give tax breaks to the people who really need them: recent graduates and young families who could use just a little boost so that they can stay in Connecticut.

Second, let’s invest in fixing our trains, roads and bridges. Connecticut’s crumbling infrastructure is a deterrent to workers and businesses alike. A thriving economy must allow people to get to and from the office without sitting in endless traffic or waiting for an indefinitely delayed train. We need to place a budgetary lockbox on the special transportation fund, to ensure that the money we raise for infrastructure is actually spent on infrastructure.

Third, it’s time for Paid Family Leave. Young workers increasingly consider work-life balance when choosing where to buy a home and start a family. Paid Family Leave, financed by employee contributions, would provide workers with the flexibility they need to advance in their career while caring for an ill-parent or newborn child. This legislation is both morally right and economically smart—yet our current state senator voted against it.

We cannot build the next twenty years of Connecticut’s future until we change the last twenty years of status quo in Hartford. That’s why I’m running for state senate, and it’s why I hope to earn your support.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.