Nutmeg Neighbor Cited As Best State Economy In Nation

By Mitchell Young

BakerMA Malloy CROP

Republican Governor Charley Baker is riding the Baystate’s No. 1 economy to a 74% approval rating.

Connecticut Governor Malloy has the lowest voter approval in the country at 29%

According to GoverningMagazine, which is reaching its 30th year of publication about the nation’s state and local government officials. High taxes, high energy costs, liberal government, and a very high cost of living aren’t the obstacles to a good economy that many in business might think. The magazine chose ultra blue, high tax, high cost of living, high energy costs, overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts as the best state economy in the US. Not surprising, the magazine said how much citizens think of their “chief executive” [Governor] is directly related to that ranking.

The current governor, Charlie Baker, is a Republican [liberal for certain] and approved of by 74% of the Commonwealth’s citizens. 

Connecticut’s economy is ranked 42nd by the magazine and the public apparently blames Governor Dannel Malloy, who gets the lowest rating of any governor in the country at 29%. In fact, no other state chief executive comes close to the polled unpopularity
of Malloy.

The once booming state of Arizona, which comes in on the economy scale just one spot ahead of Connecticut, still shows a 45% [popularity] for Governor Doug Ducey. Voters in West Virginia, at the bottom of the economic pack, are not blaming their governor, who has a 60% approval rating.

Fodder for politicians is that the top performing state economies are mostly blue [liberal] or purple states. With only a few exceptions, Connecticut being one at the bottom of the heap, are the red states of Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Pennsylvania, which has the potential to swing the presidential election, has an economy that is not faring well and is ranked at 37th.

PERFORMANCE OF
U.S. STATE ECONOMIES

 1. Massachusetts

 2. Oregon

 3. Delaware

 4. Colorado

 5. California

 6. Tennessee

 7.  New Hampshire

 8.  Utah

 9.  Virginia

10. Maryland

11. North Carolina

12. Hawaii

13. Florida

14. Idaho

15. Georgia

15. Minnesota

15. Nebraska

15. South Dakota

19. Arkansas

20. Wisconsin

21. Texas

22. Washington

23. Michigan

24. New Jersey

25. Vermont

26. South Carolina

27. Indiana

28. Maine

29. New York

30. Ohio

31. Montana

32. Missouri

33. Nevada

34. Illinois

35. Rhode Island

36. Iowa

37. Kentucky

38. Kansas

39. Pennsylvania

40. North Dakota

41. Arizona

42. Connecticut

43. Alabama

44. Oklahoma

45. Mississippi

46. Louisiana

47. New Mexico

48. Wyoming

49. Alaska

49. West Virginia

   

To determine which states are doing well and which aren’t, Governing looked at six data points from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis:  state unemployment rate; the improvement in unemployment in the past year; per capita state GDP in 2015;  change in GDP between 2014 and 2015; the percent change in state personal income per capita, from the third quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016; and the percentage growth in year-to-date increases in jobs for 2016.

State economies are moving targets, only two of the top 10 states in the magazine’s 2013 survey, Oregon and Utah, made it to the top ten in 2016. Connecticut, Mississippi and New Mexico, were in the bottom in 2013 and still are.

In ranking a governor’s popularity, the magazine used the results of a 50-state series of gubernatorial approval polls conducted by the online publication Morning Consult between January and May of 2016 and “spot-checked” other gubernatorial approval polls in the past eight months.

The approval ratings for governors of the top 10 states averaged 62.1%, while the gubernatorial approval ratings for those in the bottom 10 averaged 50.8 %.

No governor in the top 10 states had an approval rating lower than 54%, while six of the governors in the bottom 10 states had approval ratings below 50 percent and one – Malloy, had the aforementioned bottom approval rating of 29%.

The magazine cites Tufts political scientist Jeffrey Berry is quoted by the magazine saying Baystaters understand its not just about the new Governor.

“Baker has been in office less than two years and is seen as a positive for the state’s economy moving forward. The Massachusetts economy is in terrific shape, and it’s poised for continued growth,” Berry added, “most voters know that the state’s positive economy is part of a long-term trend that predates Baker.”

Governing reached out to Malloy’s opposition as well, “in Connecticut, where Malloy has the weakest approval rating, residents, may be divided on Yankees and Red Sox, Giants and Patriots, but they are of one mind on Malloy -- he has been a disaster, said Kevin Rennie, a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator who writes on politics for the Hartford Courant was quoted by Governing.

Voters in other states, however, are somewhat more forgiving as reported by the magazine.

In Louisiana, Edwards was only sworn in earlier this year.

“Voters here have a very recent memory of former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is given much of the blame for the current state of affairs,” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Louisiana, like other states on the bottom 10 list, has also been heavily influenced by a decline in the energy sector. In addition to Louisiana, today’s bottom 10 includes such energy-dependent states as Alaska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. In fact, two of these states -- Alaska and West Virginia -- actually ranked in the top 10 in 2013, before the full force of the energy decline was felt.

Ironically, voters’ understanding of the boom-and-bust patterns in the energy sector may be keeping their governors’ approval ratings higher than they would otherwise be, said several experts.

“Most Alaskans recognize that the state’s heavy dependence on oil production and tax revenues derived from it means that the fiscal health of the state suffers when production is declining and oil prices are low,” said Jerry McBeath, a political scientist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. “That’s what most would blame for poor economic conditions now.”

Governors and their approval ratings, in
the top 10 state

 Governors and their approval ratings, in 

the bottom 10 states:

1. Massachusetts Charlie Baker (R)  72 %

2. Oregon Kate Brown (D)  54 %
3. Delaware Jack Markell (D)  66 %
4. Colorado John Hickenlooper (D)  60 %
5. California Jerry Brown (D)  57 %
6. Tennessee Bill Haslam (R)  63 %
7. N Hampshire Maggie Hassan (D) 56 %
8. Utah Gary Herbert (R)  64 %
9. Virginia  Terry McAuliffe (D)  58 %
10. Maryland Larry Hogan (R)  71 

41. Arizona  Doug Ducey (R) 49 %
 42. CT  Dannel Malloy (D] 29%
 43. Alabama Robert Bentley (R) 46%
 44. Oklahoma Mary Fallin (R) 42 %
 45. Mississippi Phil Bryant (R) 60 %
 46. Louisiana John Edwards (D) 45 %
 47. N.Mexico Susana Martinez (R) 48 %
 48. Wyoming Matt Mead (R) 67 %
 49. Alaska Bill Walker (I) 62 %
 49. W. Virginia Earl Tomblin (D) 60 %

 

Methodology

“For each of the six variables, the states were ranked from 1 to 50, with 1 being the best score for that variable and 50 the worst score. Once the 1 through 50 rankings for all six variables were clear, each state’s ranking was added up, double-weighting two of the six measures -- current unemployment and percent change in real GDP -- that was considered the most important. After adding up each state’s rankings, including the double-weighted ones, it was divided by eight to create an overall average ranking for each state. A rank of 1 in each category would produce an average rating of 1.0, while a rank of 50 would produce an average of 50.0. In reality, no state was perfectly strong or perfectly weak. All states had a mix of rankings, with the rankings for some variables higher than others, so the states’ average rankings ranged between 13.3 and 40.6 rather than 1 to 50.”

The survey and attributions are the product of Governing Magazine, which is available at governing.com

standardand poorsConnecticut is “poorly poised” to handle a moderate recession when compared to other states, according to a new analysis by Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings.

The ratings agency evaluated the ability of the 10 most debt-burdened states to respond to significant fiscal stress. It determined the first year of a moderate recession would cost Connecticut $1.15 billion in revenue, which far surpasses the state’s reserve fund, currently about $127 million.

“We believe the state has a good history of mid-year budget monitoring and in recent years has made mid-year budget cuts to restore structural balance,” the report said. “However, structural balance may become more difficult to maintain in a recession scenario due to the state’s rising fixed costs.”

The report found that these “high fixed costs” – tax-supported debt service, pension contributions and other post-employment benefits – would consume a substantial portion of revenue.

marijuana clearHartford: Connecticut’s Supreme Court made a giant change in employment law and potentially changed workplace rules for use of illegal drugs including potentially alcohol.

The court overturned the firing of a state employee for smoking marijuana, an illegal substance at work. The court said the employee could have been suspended but firing of the state employee was unnecessary

The 7-0 vote, made it clear that the court chose to side with an arbitrator’s ruling that Gregory Linhoof, simply be suspended for six months without pay and subject to a year’s worth of drug testing.

The state and a lower court saw the issue differently saying that a suspension would essentially encourage illegal drug use by employees.

The court said that,  “by the arbitrator’s estimation, the grievant’s personal qualities and overall record indicate that he is a good candidate for a second chance,” Rogers wrote, adding “moreover, the discipline the arbitrator imposed was appropriately severe, and sends a message to others who might consider committing similar misconduct that painful consequences will result.”

In a potentially complication on future cases the court cited that no potential danger to others were involved in Linhoff’s illegal drug use.

Linhoff maintained his use of the illegal substance was caused by his need to relieve “anxiety” caused by difficulties in his marriage and “a recent cancer scare.”

WASHINGTON: Connecticut’s two Democratic Senators have split over increasing military spending by $18 billion, [$600 billion total budget in 2015].

Senator Richard Blumenthal a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee voted with only 12 other Senate Democrats to increase the spending regardless of increases in domestic programs.

The defense authorization bill was sponsored by Senator John McCain [R] of Arizona. The bill would have increased added thirty six Sikorsky Helicopters to the Army’s purchases in 2017.

chris murphy Richard Blumenthal insert cMichael Key

Murphy: No defense spending increase without domestic increase.

Blumenthal: Increase too important to Connecticut manufacturing to reject.

Sikorsky was sold in 2015 by Hartford based United Technologies to Lockheed Martin Corp of Bethesda MD for $9 billion.  Sikorsky has more than 7,500 employees in Connecticut and nearly 16,000 company wide. The bill also would have added boosted Pratt and Whitney as well which makes engine for the 11 additional  F-35 Joint Strike Fighters included.

Connecticut’s Keno sales are up $6 million in its first month of state-wide availability. While the state projected about $17million in the first six months of sales, the first month surpassed expectations. The controversial lottery game is much more widely available than other forms of gambling, with screens set up in various stores, bars and restaurants around the state. Keno winning numbers are projected every four minutes, unlike a traditional lottery in which winning numbers sequences are typically announced a few times a week. 

 IRS: FUTA to rise to 2.3 percent

 

 

EAST HARTFORD — OEM America President David Fernandez is criticizing a newly announced tax that makes Connecticut the most expensive in the country.

 

Fernandez’s East Hartford-based company provides payroll, human resources, workers compensation and health insurance services to small businesses throughout the state.

 

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) reimbursement rates for this 2014, just announced by the IRS, charges employers 2.3 percent on employee payrolls.  Most states charge 0.6 percent. The next highest states are Indiana at 2.1 and California at 1.8 percent.

 

Fernandez observes that some Connecticut small businesses were unprepared for this tax increase. “Lots of businesses that use ADP or Paychex for payroll haven’t been withholding enough this year,” he says. “Those companies are going to have to write a pretty big check next month.”

 

OEM’s payroll clients are somewhat insulated from this action, since the company has been anticipating this higher rate, and has been withholding accordingly, Fernandez adds. They will still have to pay the higher rates, but will not have the pay all at once.

 

“We see this kind of business-unfriendly attitudes throughout our business,” Fernandez says. “Fees tacked on to workers compensation, fees added to health insurance — the small businesses we work for feel like they’re a government piggy bank. Our products help them some, but there’s always another agency with its hand out.”

 

Fernandez urges Connecticut’s leaders to repay the federal unemployment fund, so that the state’s FUTA rates will come back down to normal.