HARTFORD — The state Office of Policy & Management (OPM) and the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) have released consensus revenue estimates for the current fiscal year and the next three fiscal years. The revenue estimates for FY 2014 (ending next June 30) are $123.4 million higher than the previous estimate reflected in OPM’s October 20 letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo. Compared to the adopted biennial budget, the consensus anticipates revenues $56.4 million higher in FY 2014 and $32 million higher in FY 2015.

 

(The estimates may be found at ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?a=2965&Q=459726&PM=1&opmNav=|)

 

OPM Secretary Ben Barnes said it may be too early in the fiscal year for the estimates to be definitive. “These estimates are a snapshot of the situation four months into the fiscal year,” he said. “The federal shutdown seems to have hampered the economic recovery both nationally and in Connecticut but we are not yet sure of the extent of that damage to state revenues, which are a month or two behind.”

 Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Next Generation Connecticut initiative is poised to send $1.54 billion to support the growth of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, facilities and jobs.

The initiative was passed by the General Assembly earlier this year and was given final approval in October; the investment money will be channeled into three University of Connecticut campuses in Storrs, Stamford and Hartford.

Next Generation Connecticut (given the hashtag #NextGenCT) will portion out the $1.54 billion in bonding to construct new STEM facilities, improve labs, upgrade IT and renovate and build additional housing. Expansions at UConn will accommodate a 30-percent enrollment increase, with 6,580 students and 259 faculty added in Storrs and Stamford, and a 70 percent increase in enrollment in the School of Engineering; creation of  a STEM honors program and addition of 50 doctoral fellowships. Stamford’s Digital Media and Business degree programs will increase by 110 percent (adding 1,520 students) to address workforce shortages. Seventy million dollars of the $1.5 billion will fund the relocation of UConn’s West Hartford campus to downtown Hartford, and $15 million is set for renovating facilities at the Avery Point campus.

STEM facilities at the Storrs campus are already at capacity, and the state money will be doled out incrementally between the 2015 and 2024 fiscal years. UConn itself will contribute $235 million for building costs and $149 million in operating expenses for the academic programs.

Officials estimate STEM-related jobs will continue to grow, with the expansion efforts expected to bring in $270 million in research, $527 million in new business, and 4,050 permanent jobs.

Developing Next Generation Connecticut will create roughly 30,000 construction jobs through 2024.

 The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards luncheon October 10 to honor the diversity and accomplishments of the region’s business community.

The Community Leadership Award is given to those making an “outstanding contribution” to the community, and this year was awarded to Gateway Community College president Dorsey Kendrick. Outgoing New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. received the Chairman’s Award.

Milford-based Pinpoint Promotions & Printing received the Small Business Achievement honor. The marketing company provides printing services in standard media as well as for promotional items like pens and USB drives.

Kim DeMartino, senior account manager of New Haven marketing firm Response, won Volunteer of the Year. New Haven Symphony Orchestra music director and principal conductor William Boughton was honored as Alumnus of the Leadership Center.

Connectivity components manufacturer Radiall USA was honored for Achievement in Manufacturing; Jeannette R. Ickovics of the Yale School of Public Health was honored for Leadership in Health Care; and an award for Nonprofit Partnership recognized the partnership between Shelton public accounting firm Blum Shapiro and local service organization Christian Community Action.

The event, taking place at the Omni New Haven Hotel, was sponsored by Gateway Community College and the Gateway Community College Foundation, and Southern Connecticut State University. The awards sponsors were Carmody & Torrance, Murtha Cullina LLP, New Haven Manufacturer’s Association, Quinnipiac Bank & Trust and the law firm of Wiggin & Dana.

 NEW HAVEN — State government will come to the rescue of the women’s professional tennis tournament the New Haven Open.

The event takes place each August at the Connecticut Tennis Center in Westville.

According to a source quoted in an October 9 New Haven Register account, the Hartford-based Capital Region Development Authority, created by the legislature last year, will manage the event, which was in danger of moving to another state because of falling attendance and declining sponsorship dollars.

“The state is moving to protect its investment in the tennis center where the tournament takes place," said Rich Hanley, associate professor and director of the graduate journalism program in the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University. "Without the tournament, the facility would have no purpose despite millions of tax dollars spent to build it and later to refurbish it.

“There is also a sense typical of states and municipalities that pro sports are necessary to present a big-league image to make the place attractive to business,” Hanley added. “That's why the state is interested in keeping the pro tennis tournament in New Haven and the pro golf tournament in Cromwell."

 Business groups will maintain separate offices

 

The Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce and the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce have announced a “strategic affiliation” between the two business groups.

Effective on October 15, the Greater New Haven Chamber and the Quinnipiac Chamber will officially collaborate on all aspects of their respective organizations, while continuing to operate as separate business units in separate office locations.

Paul Mayer, chairman of the Quinnipiac Chamber’s executive board and co-chair of the Transition Committee, says, “The Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to the new affiliation. We anticipate many benefits for both chambers as we work together to foster business growth for our members in the local communities and beyond.”

 “This new affiliation allows chamber members from both organizations to keep their local identity while expanding on the many programs offered by each chamber,” said Len Matteo Jr., chairman of the GNHCC’s executive board. “Member companies can expect greater efficiencies of their respective organizations and increased opportunities to help their business grow.”

Added Shay Atluru, co-chair of the Transition Committee, “This effort also brings together the region’s legislative and planning efforts to promote business approaches to government and legislation in a cohesive, well-defined manner.”

The Quinnipiac chamber, which represents companies in North Haven and Wallingford, had been at a crossroads since longtime president Robin Wilson announced her retirement earlier this year. Chamber officials met with representatives of the Greater Meriden Chamber of Commerce about a possible merger, but the discussions did not bear fruit.

Since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, Quinnipiac chamber annual revenues had declined from more than $500,000 to about $393,000 in 2011, and the group was facing an operating deficit in excess of $61,000, according to the Meriden Record Journal.

 The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation has released the tenth edition of its State Business Tax Climate Index, which ranks states on the business-friendliness of their tax codes.

The good news is that Connecticut’s tax environment is not the most business-hostile in the nation. It’s only the eighth-most hostile, according to the report.

Honors for most business-unfriendly tax codes go to New York and New Jersey, which posted nearly identical scores. Top honors for tax environments that abet business growth went to Wyoming, Florida and Indiana.

According to Tax Foundation economist Scott Drenkard, the lowest-scoring state have tax codes that are complex, burdensome and economically harmful. Higher ranked states are those with tax codes that “collect revenue without unnecessarily distorting business decisions. Their tax codes [are] more neutral.”

Connecticut’s ranking has been in the lowest quintile for the past three years. Its ranking for corporate, individual income and sales taxes place the state in 35th, 33rd and 32nd nationally, according to the Tax Foundation. However, the state’s over-reliance on the property tax rank it next-to-last in the U.S., ahead of only New Jersey.

“Taxes matter to business,” the report observes. “Business taxes affect business decisions, job creation and retention, plant location and competitiveness and the long-term health of a state’s economy.”

Most critically, the report adds, “Taxes diminish profits. If taxes take a larger portion of profits, that cost is passed along wither to consumers (through higher prices), employees (through lower wages or fewer jobs) or shareholders (through lower dividends or share value).