“To fix economy, invest in roads and schools, not tax breaks”

Posted on September 20, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Interesting that guest blogger Michael Kraten chose to focus on our transportation investment priority… seems this could be just the ticket to getting Connecticut back on track, according to another study!

The Connecticut Mirror posted this article summarizing a study by University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute Professor Jeffrey Thompson.

“The available evidence suggests that the most effective options for creating jobs, in the short- and long-term, are investing in infrastructure and building the skills of the current and future workforce,” Thompson proposed. “Tax cuts and business subsidies on the other hand, do little to create jobs in the short-run, and are not the most effective approaches to generating growth over the long-term.”

Thompson suggests that tax incentives are, essentially, a band-aid New England states (and all states, really) have become too dependent upon as a magic bullet option. There are more than $350 million in corporate tax breaks on the books in Connecticut, according to The Connecticut Mirror – a pretty hefty number considering we were at $3 million 20 years ago.

The study paints a picture of a major investment – but an investment that would pay dividends in jobs and the safety/quality of life of Connecticut’s people. (Who doesn’t have certain corridors of, say, I-84 they prefer to avoid on a daily basis?!).

In case you can’t tell just by driving them, some of our roads are in pretty bad shape. “Between 1/4 and 2/3 of major roads in New England are in poor or mediocre condition,” Thompson wrote, “and 40 percent of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Over the next 20 years New England needs nearly $13 billion in additional investment in drinking water infrastructure.”

Having bridges that AREN’T “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” (don’t those terms make you feel warm and fuzzy?!) would certainly be a positive… and to see those changes made, we need laborers. Hello, roughly nine percent of Connecticut’s population currently unemployed.

“On average, state infrastructure investments alone in Connecticut will produce 11.6 new jobs per $1 million invested, and a 20 percent match in federal spending would boost the number to 14.1 jobs, the report estimates,” The Connecticut Mirror cited.

Certainly not knocking Connecticut’s generous tax breaks, but improving our roads (and perhaps encouraging more to drive them)? Getting some of Connecticut’s people back to work? Leveraging some federal money for improvements? Doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world.

With an election right around the corner, though, we’ll see what the decision-makers think. “Both of the major-party candidates in Connecticut’s governor said they largely agree with Thompson that tax incentives should not be a primary tool, but added they aren’t ready to leave it out of the tool box entirely,” according to The Connecticut Mirror.

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