PA 17-164—sSB 1058

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE IDENTIFICATION OF EMERGING ECONOMIC TRENDS

SUMMARY: This act establishes a method to continuously analyze economic and business conditions and generate for legislators periodic reports that, among other things, recommend appropriate legislative and programmatic actions. The method must be implemented by a private research organization selected by the board of CTNext, a subsidiary of Connecticut Innovations that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.

The act requires the organization to provide specific services. Among other things, it must track developments in the state's major industry sectors and develop contacts and working relationships with business organizations, unions, and academic institutions. When consulting academic institutions, the organization must assess the extent to which they interact with businesses and develop educational and training programs that meet business needs.

The organization must meet with the CTNext board at least quarterly. It must also submit a comprehensive annual report to the board that recommends specific steps to achieve the goals established through the assessment process. The board's chairperson and the organization's lead representative must present the report to the Commerce and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees at a joint hearing, which various state officials must attend. The committees must include the organization's recommendations in the bills they propose during the next regular legislative session.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

SELECTING AND OVERSEEING THE PRIVATE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION

The act requires CTNext's board of directors to select and oversee a private research organization to provide the services the act specifies. The board must issue a request for proposals to provide these services, select the organization to provide them, and enter into an agreement with that organization. The act does not set deadlines for completing these tasks or provide funds to compensate the organization.

The board must annually specify the organization's scope of work and may change it, as the board deems necessary or prudent in light of economic trends or developments, as long as the changes do not generate additional costs to the state.

RESEARCH ORGANIZATION

Required Services

The research organization must continually advise, guide, and assist the state in short- and long-term strategic economic planning by:

1. identifying emerging industries in which the state should make strategic investments based on the state's existing and potential strengths in the relevant workforce, education and research capacity, and mix of existing businesses and industries;

2. suggesting policy changes to support emerging industries and better meet the needs of established ones by bolstering the state's workforce and education and research capacity;

3. periodically and regularly assessing the health of the state's established industries and the potential threats they face;

4. forecasting short- and long-term business trends that could affect new and existing businesses;

5. developing opportunities and business strategies to attract, retain, and develop emerging and mature businesses and industries;

6. accelerating the pace at which new and emerging businesses innovate; and

7. periodically assessing the state's economic conditions to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with respect to the above goals, and, based on that assessment, develop and promote policy recommendations.

Method

The act specifies the kinds of things the organization must do to meet the act's requirements. The organization must:

1. track and analyze developments in the state's major industry sectors, including health care and bioscience, financial services, insurance, venture capital, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, digital media and information technology, software development, data analytics, green technologies, and tourism;

2. consult with representatives of (a) public and private employee organizations about the development of the state's workforce and (b) public and independent higher education institutions in the state about developments in their sphere; and

3. develop contacts and working relationships with representatives of the above businesses, organizations, and institutions to be continually up-to-date and informed about emerging trends in their fields.

The organization must also have expertise in Connecticut economic history and forecasting, technology and technological advancements, strategic business planning and organizational development, investment and finance, the research and development process, and commercializing technology, or consult with experts in these fields.

In consulting with higher education representatives, the organization must examine the institutions' relationships with the state's major industry sectors. It must specifically examine the:

1. extent to which these institutions regularly communicate with businesses in the state's major industry sectors;

2. alignment of academic curricula, degree programs, and graduation rates in all the institutions' academic fields with the workforce and skill needs of the state's major industry sectors; and

3. institutions' responsiveness to these sectors' changing needs.

The organization must consider in its economic assessments the information it receives from the representatives of employee organizations and higher education institutions.

RESEARCH AND REPORTING

The act generally requires the organization to continuously gather and analyze economic information, periodically report to CTNext's board, and advise the board on the status of previously recommended actions.

Reporting

The organization must report quarterly to the board, updating it on the status of previously recommended legislative and programmatic changes. Its report must address any changes that state agencies implemented in response to its recommendations and whether the changes are achieving their goals or expected to do so. The organization must also inform the board about any economic or business problems or issues that could harm the state's major industry sectors.

The organization's fourth quarter report must also include the organization's recommendations for legislative and programmatic changes and actions aimed at achieving the state's economic development goals.

Lastly, the organization must submit an annual comprehensive report to the board that includes the information it gathered throughout the year. (The act does not specify a date by which the organization must start reporting.)

Public Hearing

Under the act, the CTNext board chairperson and a lead representative from the organization must present the organization's annual report to a joint hearing of the Commerce and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees. Before the hearing, the lead representative must provide the committees' chairpersons with a list of the department heads, chief executive officers, presidents, deans, and comparable officials whose (1) state agencies or institutions are included in the report and (2) testimony the representative believes would be helpful to committee members. The committee chairpersons may also require representatives from other state agencies and institutions to testify at the hearing.

Committee members may question any individual who appears before them, including the lead representative and the chairperson of the CTNext board. The lead representative and the chairperson may also question the people testifying at the hearing.

Legislative Proposals

The act requires the Commerce and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees to include the organization's recommendations in the bills they propose during the subsequent regular legislative session.