The economic report card for the State of Connecticut is in and the results are not good.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that Connecticut was last in the nation in economic growth in 2012, the only state where the combined value of goods and services produced (GDP) was lower than in 2011. In fact, total state GDP fell a quarter of a billion dollars last year, the same amount it fell in 2011.
On the heels of that report, the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut released the results of a survey that revealed Connecticut manufacturers predict a bleak outlook for the state’s economy and the health of their industries. The survey reported that a majority of the state’s manufacturers have been recruited to expand or relocate to another state and that they would consider doing so, most citing “government attitude” as the reason.
We see a direct connection between the state’s nation-trailing GDP performance and the attitude of state government. So does Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He is coming to Connecticut to see if he can recruit Connecticut companies to relocate to the Lone Star State — our firearms manufacturers based here foremost among them.
Connecticut’s firearms and components manufacturers have been the rare exception to the state’s dismal economic performance in recent years. Colt, Mossberg, Stag Arms, Ammunition Storage Components, to name four such companies, have added hundreds of jobs in recent years and, as a result, have contributed more in local and state taxes, even as other industries have cut back and moved facilities and jobs out of state.
So, as Gov. Dannel Malloy and the leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly earlier this year considered new gun-control legislation in the wake of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, we expected that we would have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution and to lend our expertise to the proceedings. In the end, we were dismissed and locked out. A secretly and hastily-assembled package of new restrictions was passed – not a single provision of which would have done anything to prevent the murderous actions of that mentally disturbed and socially isolated young man. We are sorry to say that, but it is true.
Emotions ran high. We understand. But underpinning these actions was the same attitude toward business that the state’s manufacturers reported in the survey. The Governor took the opportunity to further show his disdain for our industry by vilifying us in the national media. Given the opportunity to explain or apologize, he doubled down.
Gov. Perry understands all this. So he is coming to Connecticut. So too, is South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who next week will also be recruiting these same manufacturers for his state.
Gov. Malloy is said to be livid at this effrontery. He will deny it, or again go on the offensive, but the situation is of Gov. Malloy’s own making and the majority of the General Assembly from both political parties is equally responsible. Gov. Perry sees an opportunity to bring good-paying jobs to a state with a proven record of economic growth. Our manufacturers will conduct the required due diligence and make their own decisions — but they are listening and are very interested.
Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.