Connecticut’s State Motto is Qui Transtulit Sustinet, He Who Transplanted Still Sustains. But over the last twenty years, state trends point to a different reality: He who transplanted is transplanting again to sustain. Connecticut suffered a net loss of 325,526 residents during that time, or about one in ten residents. The transplants are now the people leaving Connecticut, not coming here, and their departure threatens the state’s ability to sustain and thrive in the future.
The top states former CT residents moved to are Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and South Carolina, five states with lower taxes, population density, union membership and cost of living, as well as warmer weather. They took with them an estimated $4.8 billion in purchasing power and $567 million they would have paid in state and local taxes. In the competition for people, jobs, and economic growth, people who used to be Connecticut residents are voting with their feet.
In light of the state’s economic record over last twenty years, the trend is not shocking. Connecticut is one of just three states to experience a net job loss since 1990, including the loss of 77,712 jobs between 2000 and 2010. It perennially ranks among the worst in the United States for business climate, tax burden, and cost of living. Residential electricity rates and gas prices consistently rank at or near the highest in the nation. Elected officials exacerbated these problems in 2011 by enacting the largest tax hike in state history, increasing 77 taxes and fees by $1.9 billion annually.
During this time, public sector unions gained a choke-hold grip over state government, pushing favored initiatives through the legislature like the forced unionization of personal care attendants, home day care workers, and public construction projects while rapidly expanding the size and scope of government. This included a 14% increase in the state employee ranks and a 52% rise in inflation-adjusted state spending in just the last twenty years. Meanwhile, the state employees pension fund is the third worst funded in the country, sowing the seeds for future tax increases.
Connecticut needs to go in a new direction to reverse these trends and prosper again. Connecticut’s 2012 Policy Road Map proposes 26 action items aimed at improving lives through freedom and opportunity.