Mr. Lee's point was that efforts of such scale and complexity need to be ongoing processes, not one-time, big-bang projects. It's one that state leaders should take to heart following passage of the $626 million jobs bill on Wednesday.
But it can't be one-and-done; it can't stop here. The state has to refocus nearly everything it does — education, transportation, housing — toward job creation.
The state's quality of life is one of its great economic assets, so efforts such as historic preservation, farm and forest preservation, outdoor recreation and sensible environmental protection must be near the top of the agenda.
The deal to bring The Jackson Laboratory to Farmington, also approved by the legislature on Wednesday, happened because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's able chief of staff, Timothy Bannon, happened to read a local newspaper article while on vacation in Maine. (The article was spotted by his equally able wife, Lori Aronson, former chief financial officer of the University of Connecticut.) Unless the governor wants to keep sending Mr. Bannon and Ms. Aronson on vacation, there must be a more comprehensive and systemic approach to finding job development opportunities.
Transparency And Accountability
Also, the state must have a greater focus on accountability. A recent study (http://bit.ly/uvZYOi) by the Washington-based nonprofit Good Jobs First found that many of the state's major economic development expenditures are poorly monitored and may be undermining the effort.
The report, commissioned by the Working Families Party, notes that two-thirds of the state's economic development dollars ($173 million in fiscal year 2011) are spent outside the purview of the Department of Economic and Community Development, which has more rigorous oversight standards than most other agencies.
Some expensive tax-credit programs are structured as "uncapped, as-of-right subsidies," meaning the state is blindly awarding credits "on the honors system." The report questions the wisdom of subsidizing low-wage jobs of workers who must use the public safety net, and questions the worth of poaching jobs from just over the state line.
The report sensibly recommends that all business subsidies should be disclosed online to the public, and that they be periodically reviewed by the legislature to determine whether they are working.
Jobs For The Cities
Finally, while the jobs bill makes some effort to address the urban unemployed, more — a lot more — must be done. It's important to the people, primarily, but also to the overall economy. The state is still trying to get spending under control, which affects the cost of doing business. A hugely disproportionate amount of state spending is related to the poverty in the larger cities.
If there were more jobs in the cities — Hartford's unemployment rate is nearly 16 percent — there'd be less need for the hundreds of millions of dollars that go into criminal justice, corrections, social services, etc. That would be something to celebrate.