State Economic and Community Development Commissioner gives 'state of the state' update during meeting

Published on Thursday, 29 April 2021 12:03
Written by BRIAN M. JOHNSON

@brianjohnsonBP

SOUTHINGTON – State Economic and Community Development Commissioner David Lehman gave a “state of the state” update during the Southington Chamber of Commerce’s 83rd annual meeting at Manor Inn Thursday.

Lehman said Connecticut “struck a balance” in keeping as much of the economy open as it could during the pandemic.

“Unlike Massachusetts and New York, which were much more draconian about shutting down everything, we kept as much going as we could,” he said.

Lehman said 70% of the Connecticut population has received at least one vaccine and he hopes this number increases to 75% or 85%. With this much of the populace being vaccinated, he said Gov. Ned Lamont feels confident the state can fully reopen by May 19. Massachusetts, he noted, would not be fully open until August.

Lehman said while Connecticut ranks among the states with the highest incomes, it ranks toward the bottom in the country with job growth. This is something Lamont hopes to address by creating an “innovation corridor” – lab science buildings in the state’s largest cities like New Haven. He said while Connecticut has the fourth highest patents on a per capita basis, most of those jobs end up going to New York. Lehman said the “innovation corridor” is intended to encourage them to remain in state.

Another issue facing the state is it has created a lot of “long-term liability,” which he estimated would take 30 to 40 years to fix. However, the state does have $3.8 billion in its rainy day fund, which he said is among the best in the region. The state’s credit rating was also increased this year for the first time in two decades.

Lehman said, while the state “has not grown the population in ages,” during the pandemic, some 20,000 people have relocated to Connecticut from New York, New Jersey and California.

“This is population growth like we have not seen in 15 years,” he said.

As the state budget shapes up, Lehman said with $6 billion allocated to Connecticut from the federal government, the governor does not want to raise taxes with this budget.

“The legislature has put forth a budget with a suggested tax increase but the governor has said he will not sign it,” he said. “He feels that this is not the time to raise taxes. We don’t need the money and it’s not the right message to send to people who might be considering bringing their factory to Connecticut.”



Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Thursday, 29 April 2021 12:03. Updated: Thursday, 29 April 2021 12:06.