HARTFORD, Conn. – President Barack Obama may be having a hard time persuading Congress to approve his proposed $447 billion jobs bill.
But it took just a one-day special session of the state legislature Tuesday to pass in a nearly unanimous vote Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's $626 million bill to spur job creation and economic growth across the state.
Malloy, who will sign the bill into law late Thursday afternoon, believes the plan will create jobs and spark economic expansion and innovation. And at least one local lawmaker agreed.
"Many of the proposals in this bill addressed concerns by a number of owners in our small-business sector," said state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton. "Of particular interest – besides cost – was the delay in approvals or denials of permits, which often derail important investments in our state as 'the time cost of money' forces some companies to lose financial backing.
"Not only was this issue addressed, but important approvals in other areas were also tackled," said Boucher, who also represents part of Norwalk. "Vo-tech schools became a focus of the legislation, including new skills for the 21st century. Transportation infrastructure improvements and airport enterprise zones received positive votes by everyone in the Senate."
Boucher said the legislation was "a culmination of a jobs tour and business forum" throughout the state, including in Fairfield County.
Malloy hailed passage of the bipartisan legislation.
"I've spoken a lot about reinventing Connecticut, and I think Democrats and Republicans working together is one illustration of that reinvention," he said. "How often do you see this happening in Washington? Putting people back to work and making Connecticut more business-friendly" were among the goals included in the package.
Highlights of the bill include a newly created Small Business Express Package and other initiatives that will make $180 million available to support small-business growth. The package includes small-business loans and grants that range from $10,000 to $250,000.
To help make doing business easier in Connecticut, the jobs bill shortens the timeframe for obtaining critical permits, such as those required by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It also eases what many believe are burdensome regulations and creates a new e-business portal to make it easier for companies to access programs and services.
To encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, the bill includes $25 million for startup company loans, investments and matching grants. It also aims to increase the number of investors in high-tech and emerging-industry companies by reducing the minimum investment from $100,000 to $25,000.
And to help ensure workers have the skills needed for new jobs, the bill includes $20 million for manufacturing technology programs in vocational and technical schools and community colleges.