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CCM, CBIA and CT AFL-CIO reconvene Project B.E.S.T. economic summit: Report released on new findings from work groups at 2016 CCM Convention

For Immediate Release

Kevin Maloney (203) 710-3486

In conjunction with the 2016 CCM Convention at the Foxwoods Resort, partners the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA), and the Connecticut AFL-CIO reconvened their Project B.E.S.T. economic summit team in mid-November, again gathering a group of 150 policy leaders across Connecticut from business, labor, education, government, and social services, to brainstorm on better pathways to a strong economic future for Connecticut.

CCM today (Friday, January 6) released a summary of the second summit’s top findings that include key policy issues for state leaders to consider, which were highlighted by calls for goal-oriented state budgeting to advance economic innovation; expanding the role of regional councils of government and regional alliances; ensuring that Connecticut tax reform strategies address all state-local taxes and fees; and expanding smart growth development principles to further strengthen regional transportation assets.

The 2016 working groups focused on these issues:

  • Fiscal and Regulatory Environment (Funding Side)
  • Effective and Efficient Services (Delivery Side)
  • Workforce Development

The summit was again led by Kenya Rutland, principal of KJR Consulting, whose team worked with leaders on their specific subgroup issues. Below are highlights of key consensus findings presented in each arena.

Fiscal & Regulatory Environment back to top

The Fiscal & Regulatory Environment working group identified this top priority ─ Implement goal-oriented budgeting to improve economic growth and innovation.

This overarching goal contains the following elements:

  • Inclusive job economic growth
  • Keeping the workforce in Connecticut
  • Creating a uniform business plan for both large and small businesses to include regulatory reform
  • Addressing the education achievement gap and ensuring we have a skilled workforce
  • Consistency and predictability in budgeting
  • Ensuring transparency and clear direction
  • Housing affordability and diversity
  • Cities as drivers and anchors

This multi-pronged idea encapsulates the most important fiscal needs necessary to make immediate and long-term changes for local government and businesses.

Effective & Efficient Services back to top

The Effective & Efficient Services working group identified three top priority issues:

  1. Use councils of government (COGs) and regional education service centers (RESCs) as engines of change for regional opportunities.

    Implementation of this idea will include maintaining:

    • 1 town, 1 vote ratio for COGs
    • Local hometown identity while collaborating
    • Bottom up, not top down approach to governing and decision-making

    These approaches would encourage municipalities to work more closely together. The notion of empowering COGs and RESCs can succeed because these entities have built trust and have a structure already. The entities would need to define how they can do the same work more collaboratively.

  2. Major Tax Reform

    This idea would require the state to be comprehensive in addressing all of the diverse state-local tax components, such as:

    • Property tax
    • Income tax
    • Corporate tax
    • Sales tax
    • State and local fees

    This shift would reduce the problem of residents and businesses leaving Connecticut. It would also eliminate the reliance on the two-bill property tax model that angers recipients. Ultimately, the state should follow what its most effective towns are already doing.

  3. Create incentives to encourage regional alliances

    This idea could be very beneficial if:

    • Collaboration is tied to municipal aid
    • Technical resources and research for consolidation are provided and participants understand and can achieve the benefits of regional alliances

Workforce Development back to top

The Workforce Development working group identified three top priority issues:

  1. Establish smart growth principles that strengthen transportation assets to improve efficiency/effectiveness.

    Transportation continually emerges as an impediment to employment and access to training opportunities, particularly in certain areas of the state.

    The state can narrow the workforce gap, improve quality of life, and better market what it has by:

    • Expanding Connecticut transit to reach training programs/jobs
    • Reviewing job clusters regionally and connecting transportation accordingly
    • Piloting with Uber and other companies for job training/access
  2. Develop a communication and marketing strategy to reach and engage stakeholders such as employers, school districts, teachers, students, parents, guidance counselors, and higher education.
    • Would address a lack of awareness of the different career pathways available to young workers.
    • Would address current challenges around the lack of coordination and collaboration while increasing the pipeline and recruitment of a more diverse, skilled workforce.
  3. Expand “young people’s” view of what is productivity and success.
    • There is currently a myth that there are only two pathways to productivity and success: college or career. The State should encourage Connecticut’s young people to explore the multiple pathways that are available to them during their career development journey.

    Focusing on this goal would begin to address and possibly eliminate gaps in the way we define career. This would begin by creating an intentional relationship between academia and the business industry.