The headline in the story posted over the weekend at the National Review website says simply, “Connecticut’s Bad for Business.” The article explains that “the state’s perpetual budget crisis has continued unhindered, with no resolution on the horizon,” and points to “a long list of causes” for the adverse business climate: “burdensome regulations, the second-highest tax burden in the country, restrictive zoning rules, high costs of labor, a lack of meaningful regional cooperation, clogged highways, crowded trains, and overall inadequate public transportation.”
The National Review focus on Connecticut launches into a discussion of “the educational disparities that characterize the school systems” including this spending review:
“New Haven, featuring a perpetually beleaguered and fairly depleted school system, spends $17,200 per student. Fairfield, the wealthy town right next door to Bridgeport, actually spends less — just under $16,000. Waterbury, one of the poorest cities in the state, spends $15,000 per student; West Hartford, regarded by all as some sort of suburban Zion, spends $500 less. Hartford spends $19,400 per student, more than the New York exclaves of New Canaan and Darien and more than the shoreline oases of Madison and Guilford.”
The article suggests that among the factors adversely impacting the quality of education in urban districts is “stunningly dysfunctional boards of education” that feature “bitterly personal partisan acrimony” and “an inability to rise above petty, factionalist squabbling.” Some examples are outlined.
Education funding, likely to be front and center in the 2017 state legislative session following a sweeping court decision now being appealed by the state, drew this observation: “Wealthy towns may, on average, spend more per student than poorer towns and cities do, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule; sometimes poor towns spend more, and sometimes they spend less. In any case, spending can’t explain it all.”
Recent articles by The New York Times and Atlantic are referred to, noting that they also reflected poorly on the state’s current condition. National Review adds to the journalistic observations of a state filled with seemingly intractable dilemmas, noting that “Connecticut’s tax system is currently so dependent on the incomes of Fairfield County high-earners — as Governor Malloy has often made clear — that even the slightest variations can trigger a budget crisis.” The article adds, however, that “finance lies somewhere near the bottom of a long list of factors in explaining the current state of Connecticut.”
The article suggests that GE’s departure and Sikorsky’s recent decision to stay in the state both reflect Connecticut’s weakness.
“That Sikorsky probably would have followed GE’s path out of the state without (state subsidies) suggests to me that Connecticut just isn’t a good place for business anymore — unless the state opens the coffers. The lack of middle-class jobs in Connecticut cannot be explained by an overreliance on finance in one of the state’s eight counties; rather, it has far more to do with Connecticut’s long-decaying business climate.”
The article was authored by National Review intern Noah Daponte-Smith, who is also a Yale University student and staff reporter and writer for the Yale Daily News, described as a “student of modern history and politics.” Smith has also written - last summer - for Forbes, focusing on “British politics in the domestic and European spheres.” He is a graduate of the Hopkins School in New Haven.
Daponte-Smith indicates that Connecticut’s “problem can be solved,” but concludes that “blaming inequalities in education funding or the prominence of finance in Fairfield County’s economy are poor places to start.”