To the editor,
Just as the news of the closing of the Walmart store in Derby was being made public this week, lawmakers in Hartford were debating a proposal to punish all businesses that don’t pay their employees at least $15 per hour.
Companies that fail to meet that standard would be assessed a tax that would be paid to the State of Connecticut under the legislation. It is precisely this sort of punitive, wrong-headed public policy that leads small companies and large corporations to conclude that Connecticut is a tough place to do business.
It is hard to gauge what effect the $15 minimum hourly rate would have on a giant chain such as Wal-Mart. But such legislation is what leads to job loss, not job growth.
The decision by Wal-Mart, the country’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, to shut down hundreds of stores is complicated and layered. Some locations underperform and over time may have to be reconsidered. But the bottom line matters to every business, whether it is GE, Wal-Mart or the corner drug store — Connecticut is running out of those as well.
Locally the decision to close the store in the coming months will have a profound effect. The 150 employees will have to find new jobs. There are three other Wal-Marts within 10 miles, a gratifying assumption that many can relocate. But there will be a disruption to lives.
Derby, the smallest city in Connecticut, will risk losing $19,162 in property taxes. The site once was home to Caldor’s and maybe it can refitted for a new use. But a new tenant needs to be convinced to locate here.
Plus, the loss of an anchor store can have a fallout on surrounding businesses that have worked hard at building foot traffic.
Businesses don’t just pick up and leave on a whim. It is the compounded effect of legislation and over regulation that interferes with their ability to grow and survive that ultimately informs their decisions or forces their hands.
The writer is a Republican candidate for state representative in the 105th District.