- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut business groups continued to put pressure on state lawmakers Monday to roll back proposed tax increases, pointing out how states are actively trying to take advantage of the situation and lure away businesses.

The state of Florida is now running a radio ad in Connecticut urging companies to move to the Sunshine State and touting the potential tax advantages. The ad mentions how Florida Gov. Rick Scott will visit Connecticut this week to meet with firms. Indiana recently ran a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal to reach out to several top Connecticut employers.

“The threats are real. Governors are calling into companies in the state of Connecticut. Some governors are coming to the state of Connecticut, trying to entice our companies to relocate,” said Joe Brennan, the president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. “We have to do everything possible to make sure that we’ve got a vibrant and growing economy and a competitive economy.”

CBIA organized Monday’s news conference outside the state Capitol to reinforce its message to lawmakers before they meet in private to discuss possible 11th-hour changes to the budget that could be approved during the special legislative session planned later this month. The two-year $40.3 billion Democratic spending plan passed June 3, but Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not yet signed it into law.

The House Democrats were scheduled to meet on Tuesday.

Malloy, who recently proposed scaling back nearly $224 million of the $1.5 billion of the tax increases, downplayed Scott’s planned visit.

“Every governor competes in every state. We all do it,” he said. “Everybody does this kind of stuff.”

The General Assembly’s majority Democrats have not yet signed off on Malloy’s plan. They’re also under pressure from human services advocates who are concerned the tax rollbacks could mean further cuts to programs that serve the needy, the elderly, and people with disabilities and mental illness.

The Arc of Connecticut, the state’s largest organization representing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, warned Monday that “allowing for deeper budget cuts will only increase the burden on the fractured system of support, leaving families receiving services and waiting for services in fear.” The group said the Department of Developmental Services in particular cannot withstand more cuts, adding how families are desperate.

“We need to look at this whole issue from both ends,” Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, said last week. “The governor has identified some problems on the revenue side, and I think we’re going to look at both some spending cuts and perhaps some alternative revenues to try to close the gap.”

Paul Hoffman, president of Orange Research, a Milford-based firm that manufactures industrial instrumentation and employs 49 people, said he’s received calls over the last several years from South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and other states trying to encourage him to move out of Connecticut. He said those calls have ramped up in recent weeks.

Hoffman said he has deep roots in Connecticut, but admitted that he and his son have discussed possibly moving the three-generation, family-owned company elsewhere.

“It depends on how bad it gets,” Hoffman said. “There is a tipping point.”

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Associated Press Writer Stephen Singer contributed to this report from East Hartford, Connecticut.

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