Joe volunteers to run a youth soccer club. He wants kids outside and on the field. But the Connecticut Department of Labor is getting in the way. The Department of Labor has audited Joe’s nonprofit in Guilford plus 93 other youth leagues. Now, Joe is afraid to pay people who work with his club. If youth sports leagues are afraid to pay workers in Connecticut, other employers must be terrified.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association and BlumShapiro released Friday their annual survey of businesses in Connecticut, showing state taxes and regulations are the biggest roadblocks to business growth and expansion. The three biggest challenges to growth cited by the businesses surveyed were costs associated with state regulations, taxes and “unpredictability surrounding legislative decision making.”
People suggest, in not quite so many words, that if we don’t have this tax or that spending program or yet another regulation, we’ll somehow slip below the Mason-Dixon Line. Fortunately, nothing is so tenuous about our situation. This strict view – good states don’t allow bad behavior – leads us to pile on rules without any perspective on the real-life effects of those rules. Until we stop wearing policies as a badge of honor, it will be hard to honestly assess their impact on people.
A new study from the Employment Policies Institute shows that Connecticut’s 2012 paid sick leave law resulted in reduced benefits and less hours for young and low-wage workers. The study, conducted by Dr. Thomas Ahn of the University of Kentucky, focused on Connecticut because it was the first state to mandate paid sick leave and therefore had the most measurable data. According to Ahn’s research one-third of surveyed businesses reduced other employee benefits to compensate for costs due to the law. One fifth of the businesses either raised prices or reduced staffing levels.
Connecticut is one of the epicenters of the $70 million campaign to pressure states and municipalities to raise the minimum wage to $15, despite the damaging effects that a steep minimum wage increase would have on workers. The money for the “Fight for $15” campaign comes from the dues of members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which in Connecticut represents many state employees, as well as health care and food service workers. A state board, the Connecticut Low Wage Employer Advisory Board, whose membership includes an SEIU director, will hold a hearing in Bridgeport next week on whether or not the state should raise its minimum wage.
Bledar Iljazi came to the United States as a child in 1986 when his family decided they could no longer live under the government of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Now the entire family - twelve members across three generations - is fleeing Connecticut and pursuing a better life in South Carolina. “The way everything was ten years ago - the economy and taxes - it wasn’t as bad, but right now for small businesses we’re getting hit with taxes left and right. They’re pretty much just making them up,” Bledar said.