- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Business lobbyists at the state Capitol on Thursday panned parts of Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 2014 legislative agenda, including his proposal to raise the minimum wage.

The National Federation of Independent Business said the governor’s State of the State speech to the legislature also offered an excessively rosy view of the state’s economy.

“Every governor tries to paint a pretty picture of the economy, but Gov. Malloy today seemed to be describing an economy that most small businesses don’t recognize,” NFIB state director Andrew Markowski said. “We’re not going to solve our problems by denying that they exist.”

Malloy could help business more with lower taxes than with his small business assistance program, which Markowski called a “narrowly targeted approach.”

“Instead of making people qualify to get a little of their own money back, we should be downsizing government so businesses and consumers can keep the money they earn and invest it on their own terms,” he said.

The governor cited his administration’s Small Business Express program that he says has helped create and maintain more than 13,800 jobs.

“That’s 13,800 good jobs that exist today because of a program almost every Democrat and Republican in this chamber voted to support,” he told lawmakers.

The small business group and Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the state’s largest business organization, also criticized Malloy’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2017.

The two groups say a higher minimum wage would reduce employment.

“It doesn’t mean you’re against employees,” said John Rathgeber, president of the CBIA. “You’re concerned about job growth in Connecticut.”

Connecticut has struggled with a stubbornly high unemployment rate, which was 7.4 percent in December. It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

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