When Alan and Gerald Zordan could take it no more, and decided to up and move their Torrington-based manufacturer (Borgeson Universal Co.) to South Carolina in 2015, they wrote a widely circulated op-ed for the Journal Inquirer titled “Goodbye, Connecticut: It’s just too expensive here.”
Citing numerous reasons for heading to the exits, they made a particular point about the state’s obnoxious Department of Labor:
Perhaps the final straw for us was our mind-boggling treatment by the Labor Department, which actually awarded unemployment compensation to an employee who was fired for threatening a supervisor with physical harm.
No one is surprised that the only state agency we heard from when the word got out that we were thinking of leaving was the Labor Department, which insisted that we allow it into our company to conduct a seminar for our employees to tell them how to get all the benefits they were entitled to.
So, farewell to home, family, and friends. We have been forced to move to a place where we are welcomed and wanted.
Regrettably, it is no longer Connecticut.
So get this: The very department that is renowned for being inhospitable, for abusing and chasing away businesses, and for having as its unofficial motto, “Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out,” is lobbying the legislature to approve a tax increase — the euphemism is an “administrative assessment” — to raise $9 million annually to underwrite staff salaries and benefits, which are by far the highest nationally paid to state-labor bureaucrats.
Commissioner Scott Jackson went before the legislature last week to bemoan a loss in federal funds (“standards of excellence are being compromised daily by resource deficiencies”) and to propose a solution: a tax (on wages) to make up the difference. Per the report by the Hartford Courant:
The revenue would stabilize the Labor Department’s functions “so that we may provide the level of service that our employers and employees deserve,” Jackson told lawmakers.
A federal funding deficit in 2018 of $8.2 million is projected to rise to $12.8 million in 2019, he said.
“The unfortunate result of declining federal funding is declining staff,” Jackson said.
“Standard of excellence” — tell that to the Zordans.
The Connecticut Business and Industry Association is mocking, and fighting, Jackson’s request. CBIA’s lobbyist testified at the same hearing, asking, “If the Labor Department is successful in this endeavor, what’s to stop every other state agency from imposing a surcharge to fund their own personnel costs?”
Hey! Don’t give them any ideas! And finally, you can file this under Great Minds Think Alike: As I was hitting the SEND button on this, I saw that Marc Fitch at the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and I share the same muse.