Editorial: Connecticut STEM tax credit has potential to help the state

STEM fields are generally high paying, so the presence of companies and their employees can help bring much-needed revenue to Connecticut. STEM is also critical because of what it does for the state overall. Engineering companies are needed to help fix crumbling infrastructure. (Andrew Writer/Flickr Creative Commons)

It is no secret that Connecticut has experienced a population problem in recent years. Many graduates have left the state in search of better job opportunities and warmer weather. This migration has created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Companies are leaving in part because they can’t find qualified workers, decreasing opportunities and further encouraging the exodus from the state. To combat this issue, Connecticut has begun offering a tax credit to college alumni who stay in the state. Those with college degrees in science, engineering, technology or mathematics (STEM) who work and reside in the state are eligible for a $500 tax credit for up to five years. This benefit is available to both in-state and out-of-state graduates, providing they move here within 2 years of obtaining their degrees.

It is a welcome sign that the state recognizes the importance of STEM workers in a successful modern economy. STEM fields are generally high paying, so the presence of companies and their employees can help bring much-needed revenue to Connecticut. STEM is also critical because of what it does for the state overall. Engineering companies are needed to help fix crumbling infrastructure. They can help transform our grid to make our usage more efficient and help residents transfer to greener sources. While people from all backgrounds are needed in any society, some of the critical problems the state is facing require the efforts of scientists and engineers to address.

The tax credit may not seem like a lot of money, especially in the long run. It is still difficult for Connecticut to compete with other more attractive areas with an abundance of jobs. But for college students just starting out, the money can really help. Connecticut may be a fairly expensive place to live, but with the inclusion of the tax credit the state starts to look cheaper than places like New York City or San Francisco. At the very least, this incentive will lead graduates to give job possibilities in the state a closer look.

Connecticut will be hard-pressed to fix its finances unless a number of well-paying companies move to or remain in the state. It’s not in the budget to entice these businesses with huge tax incentives. What the state can do is stack the workforce with talented individuals whom businesses will want to hire. As a top-rated public university, UConn will be pivotal in transforming the state’s economy. Giving a small boost to graduates is just one way the state can start to turn things around, economically speaking.