Will New Jobs Save Connecticut's Budget?
Can keeping young workers in Connecticut help solve the current fiscal crisis? That was the topic of a forum at the Lyceum in Hartford today/tomorrow. Timothy Bannon opened the forum at the Partnership for Strong Communities. He's chief of staff to Governor Dannel Malloy, and he says that growing jobs is a good alternative to raising taxes and cutting spending. "Because job creation is what enables the tax base to grow and that's what we need to do over time, starting now, in order to really provide a long term solution to the state's economic woes." But economic recovery in the state of Connecticut is slow. The unemployment rate hovers at nine percent, just where it was at this time last year. The lack of employment opportunities has some economists worried that in the next ten years, Connecticut's young people will leave the state in droves. Professor Barry Bluestone of Northeastern University says that attracting and retaining young people is a matter of building up a better than average quality of life. "If we're going to keep young people here, will we have enough affordable housing that after they get out of college, can they stay here once they have a family. Can they afford a home in a community that has good public schools and safe streets. If we can't provide that, we don't get the young people." Keeping young workers in the state is just one key to solving the budget crisis. State governments are also now demanding relief from public sector unions. Bluestone points out that unlike in the 19_60's when support for large private sector unions was strong, taxpayers now aren't showing the same support for public service workers. "As the public begins to recognize how well public sector workers are doing relative to other workers, and how bad the national and state economies are treating them, they will increasingly side with municipal officials and against public sector unions." Given that, Bluestone says the job for the state's elected and union leaders will be to find ways to work together to increase productivity, decrease costs, and close the looming budget deficits.