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Commission Holds Closed-Door Meeting on the Struggling Connecticut Economy

The Connecticut Commission on Economic Competitiveness held a closed-door meeting Tuesday to discuss a report on the state’s economy based on work from the consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

The commission met at 10 a.m. and immediately went into executive session, removing all observers from the meeting. Commission Co-Chairman Joseph McGee said the executive session would allow the committee to work out all the numbers. “There is a lot of information,” he said.

The Yankee Institute filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission challenging the executive session as unjustified. Executive session only applies when discussions involve individual employees, active claims, security matters, real estate transactions or when discussion would reveal a public record that is exempt from disclosure. It remains to be seen how a report on the state’s economic competitiveness would meet any of these requirements.

Co-Chairman of the commission, Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, said the report was preliminary and argued that made the closed-door meeting legitimate.

“There’s no attempt to hide any bad news from anybody,” Tong said. “This commission is committed to confronting our challenges honestly and openly, and also to building on the strengths and opportunities of our state. We will share this information at the appropriate time.”

Lawmakers formed the commission last year to study the effects of tax policy on businesses and to promote economic growth and state competitiveness. Recent revelations regarding income tax revenue and job numbers have been disappointing.

In November of 2015, income tax receipts were lower than expected and the state comptroller’s office revised the projected deficit for 2016 to $266 million. The deficit is expected to grow to $900 million next year.

On March 11, the Department of Labor released job numbers for 2015 that were significantly lower than originally reported. The DOL had originally reported that the state added 26,900 jobs in 2015, but last week revealed the number was actually 12,200.

“At some point we are going to disclose this information, but the commission is still doing its work. This report is in draft form, and we believe we can go into executive session about it,” Tong said. McGee said the report would be released “in two weeks.”

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Marc E. Fitch

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