Summary of Yankee Institute’s testimony at the capitol this week
Yankee Institute testified on twenty-three bills this week in our continuing effort to give you a voice in the state capitol building. Below is a run-down of each of the bills and Yankee’s position.
House Bill 6965: An Act Concerning Connecticut Jobs
Don’t be fooled by the name. This bill would actually lower the prevailing wage threshold for Connecticut towns and cities to $2,000. This would mean a much bigger cost burden for any town that wanted to build a new facility or remodel an existing building. It would mean fewer jobs and more cost taxpayers.
House Bill 6252: An Act Requiring Licensure for Art Therapists
The state already has too many licensure requirements. Adding a state license requirement for art therapy one will not improve safety or prevent fraud.
Senate Bill 41: An Act Requiring Certification of Phlebotomists
Employers like hospitals and doctors’ offices are already allowed to require certification of phlebotomists and this standard has not led to any public health crisis. The Department of Public Health is already understaffed and overburdened and this bill would just be another hurdle for phlebotomists to jump over before they are able to work.
Proposed Bill 6920: An Act Concerning the Furtherance of Regionalism
This bill would give Councils of Government greater authority over towns and municipalities and greater authority to collect revenue from those municipalities. Towns and cities already engage in some cost sharing and this is encouraged but they should be able to do so voluntarily in a mutually beneficial way. This bill would force towns to partner in ways that might not be beneficial to all parties and will not result in any cost savings.
House Bill 6313: An Act Establishing a Tax on Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags
This would establish a .05 cent tax on plastic and paper bags. Plastic and paper bags are 100 percent recyclable. This is just an added tax burden that sounds good on paper but is ineffective. It is especially impactful on low-income households and businesses and opens a door for similar taxes in the future.
Senate Bill 628: An Act Concerning The Development of a High-Speed Broadband Infrastructure Plan
Connecticut has some of the best broadband service in the country. State government-created high-speed broadband has been proven costly and ineffective in other states and Connecticut should not be spending money on something it cannot afford.
House Bill 6139: An Act Establishing a Mortgage Recording Tax
This tax would increase homebuyer and business closing costs significantly in Connecticut. Connecticut already has taxes on mortgages and this would be an added burden to both families and businesses and make it harder to own a home or open a business in this state.
Senate Bill 746: An Act Amending the Municipal Employee Retirement System for Newly Hired Employees
This bill would exclude overtime pay, raise the retirement age to 62, limit cost of living increases and increase employee contributions to the Municipal Employee Retirement System. MERS must be changed to ensure its long-term sustainability and limit its cost to taxpayers
House Bill 5552. An Act Excluding Retirement Benefits from Collective Bargaining by State and Municipal Employees.
Because taxpayers have to pay for pension and other retirement benefits, it is only fair that they should have a voice in the how those benefits are set. This bill would require retirement benefits to be set by the legislature, giving everyone a seat at the bargaining table.
House Bill 6209: An Act Concerning Union Stewards and Compensation from the State
In 2015, union leave time cost the state of Connecticut $4.2 million and 110,000 work hours. Union stewards should not be paid by the state for time spent working for a private entity like a labor union. This practice costs taxpayers millions of dollars and results in increased overtime costs. This bill would end the practice of taxpayers funding union business.
House Bill 6457: An Act Limiting Wage Increases in Arbitration Awards
This bill would limit binding arbitration awards involving state or municipal employee wages to a 2 percent increase. A single arbitrator should not have the ability to unfairly increase costs to taxpayers.
House Bill 6461: An Act Concerning Unemployment Compensation
This bill would increase the amount of time someone has to work before they can file for unemployment benefits and make other changes to how unemployment benefits are calculated. The earning requirement for unemployment benefits in Connecticut has not been changed for 50 years and its time we made some reforms.
House Bill 6900: An Act Concerning Collective Bargaining Agreements
This bill would prohibit consideration of a town’s fund balance when determining whether or not a municipality can pay for costs associated with collective bargaining agreements. This would give Connecticut municipalities financial relief and let them do what is in the best interest of their town, rather than what is in the best interest of a union.
House Bill 5764: An Act Concerning The Licensing of Barbers and Hairdressers
This bill would remove the criminal history restriction for licensing a barber or hairdresser. Formerly incarcerated persons deserve a chance to earn a living and should not be restricted by overly burdensome state licensing laws.
Senate Bill 789: An Act Concerning the Regional Competitiveness of Connecticut’s Alcoholic Liquor Prices
This bill would remove price restrictions on alcoholic beverages in Connecticut allowing more competition, lower consumer prices and is a step toward a more free market.
Senate Bill 432: An Act Concerning Exceptions to the Prevailing Wage Requirement in Public Works Projects and House Bill 6211: An Act Increasing the Prevailing Wage Thresholds
Both these bills – one introduced by Democrats and one introduced by Republicans – would increase the prevailing wage threshold for public projects and provide some cost relief to towns. These reforms are also supported by the governor as part of his budget proposal.
Senate Bill 49: An Act Concerning Approval of Administrative Management Contracts for School Districts
This bill would increase transparency in the process of approving school district management contracts by requiring publication of the contract and approval by a town board. Taxpayers should have a say in how much a school district is paying for superintendents.
House Bill 6466: An Act Concerning the Municipal Employee Retirement System
This bill would put new municipal employees who are part the Municipal Employee Retirement System into a defined contribution plan rather than a pension. This will prevent MERS from falling into the same hole as the state and teacher retirement system.
Governor’s Senate Bill 793: An Act Concerning Fairness for Municipalities and Local Taxpayers
Part of the governor’s budget proposal, this bill would raise the prevailing wage threshold, allow municipalities to make changes to how much their employees contribute to the Municipal Employee Retirement System and reform binding arbitration laws. All these are positive steps to ease the state burden on towns and cities.
Senate Bill 619: An Act Concerning Reporting and Legislative Oversight of the First Five Program
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s First Five Program gives companies grants and low-interest loans to keep them from leaving the state. The program has grown from 5 to 13 companies and has given out $256 million. The legislature should have oversight of how and why public funds are going to private companies, particularly when the state is in perpetual deficit.
Senate Bill 128: An Act Exempting New Businesses From State Regulations
This would exempt Connecticut start-up businesses from state regulations for the first two years of operation. This will help encourage new businesses in Connecticut and give them a leg up to help our economy grow and create new jobs.
Senate Bill 416: An Act Limiting General Obligation Bonds Allocations and Issuances
Connecticut is being crushed by its debt and debt service payments now comprise 13 percent of general budget expenditures. These payments are continuing to grow and are costing taxpayers more each year. This bill – along with two other bills in the House – would place a cap general obligation bonds.