Survey: 15 percent of CT residents aware of CEO-led economic commission

By Joe Cooper

A CEO-led commission proposed major changes to Connecticut's tax and economic policies earlier this year they say could help stimulate the state's economy.

But lawmakers haven't acted on the recommendations. A bigger problem may be that Connecticut residents know nothing about the commission or its blueprint for the state's future, according to a new survey.

The survey by InformCT says nearly nine in 10 Connecticut residents are not aware of, or not sure they know about, the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, a state-created body tasked by legislators with proposing remedies for the state's fiscal woes.

That lack of awareness comes despite the fact that the commission held numerous hearings over several months, generated media coverage and issued a 119-page report calling for changes to policies that deal with spending, investments, tax policy, infrastructure, competitiveness and transportation.

The state House of Representatives has not yet voted on House Bill 5580, which would require the state Office of Policy and Management to analyze the commission's recommendations approved by the Appropriations Committee on April 5.

The commission was created by lawmakers in late October and convened for the first time in mid-December. Its proposals included increasing the minimum wage, tax rebalancing, transferring the Connecticut Lottery's revenue to help reduce the teachers' liability over the next 30 years and cutting $1 billion in state expenses, among many others.

The commission is co-chaired by former Webster Bank CEO James Smith, who recently flirted with a gubernatorial bid, and former Women's Health USA CEO Robert Patricell.

Under the InformCT Consumer Confidence Survey, 73 percent of respondents said they were not aware of the commission's work, 15 percent reported they "knew about" the commission.

Just 13 percent of respondents said they were aware of the commission's work, and 44 percent of those respondents said they were in agreement the commission's proposals.

InformCT President and CEO Robert Santy cited a lack of "vigorous public debate" to why the commission's recommendations have received tempered responses.

"The members of the commission put significant effort and resources into proposing what they collectively viewed as actions that would help Connecticut achieve fiscal stability and encourage economic growth," Santy said.

InformCT, a public-private partnership that provides independent, non-partisan research, analysis and community outreach, drew from 505 state residents in April.