Jobs and opportunity are top priorities

During our campaign we ran on a “commitment to opportunity.” A commitment to provide an opportunity for more jobs in our state and a commitment to provide more opportunity for our children.

Last month, Connecticut’s unemployment rate dropped from 8.9% to 8.6%. A drop to most people would be a good thing — it signals we are heading in the right direction. However, when you take apart the numbers, you see a very different picture. The decline in the rate wasn’t caused by more people finding work, or by a large number of people leaving the workplace; the biggest cause for the drop came from people giving up looking for work. In December alone, the Connecticut Department of Labor reported that the state lost an additional 1,800 jobs, bringing last year’s total job loss to 45,000 jobs — the largest decline in the labor force since they began keeping track of the numbers.

This is simply unacceptable.

I believe jobs and opportunity should be our top priority. Each year in my small business we hire bright high school and college-aged students, just to see them leave the state after school for better opportunities. Connecticut simply cannot compete. As a state we have a great deal to offer, but we need to be able to attract and retain the best and brightest. We need to create an environment where small businesses can thrive. Government does not create jobs, but it does play a very important role in making sure there is a level playing field so that Connecticut residents can compete fairly with other states. Businesses will always go to where they have the best opportunity to succeed. Businesses must be able to find the best trained workers, have an opportunity to grow, without being burdened by excessive taxation and regulation.

This session I am proposing common sense legislation to help our local economy and to protect small business owners. I will be putting forth bills to establish an employer’s bill of rights, to expedite the permit process by allowing licensed contractors to pull and pay for permits using an online system, and to provide that a portion of the sales tax revenue be directed to the town where it is collected. These small steps will help our small businesses and the economy in our local community.

Our children shouldn’t have to leave our great state to find opportunity — they should be able to find opportunity right here in Connecticut. And I truly believe that with the right changes in Hartford we can make that happen.

State Rep. Dave Rutigliano was elected to his first term on Nov. 6, 2012. He lives in Trumbull with his wife, Michele, and their two children.