(WTNH) – A big economic summit was held in Hartford on Friday. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association dropped results from a new survey that shows a majority of businesses can’t find workers.

The survey shows one-third say the state is too expensive. So, what are the two men vying to be the next governor going to do about it?

Deb Gearty’s business, Ritz Inc., supplies furniture for hospitals and universities.

She said state leaders should focus on fixing high healthcare costs and workforce development.

“Whether it be college educated, or trades,” said Gearty.

CBIA’s new survey done by Marcum, a business advisory group, was released at the annual summit. Chris DiPentima, the CBIA President, said of the survey, “Really captures the state’s economy at a critical point.”

Nearly 4,000 top executives were polled. A majority were impacted by the labor shortage, cost of doing business, and supply chain disruptions.

The survey also showed:

  • 85% impacted by labor shortage
  • 89% cost of doing business is increasing
  • 83% impacted by supply chain disruptions

Higher prices and high cost of living are top concerns. The priorities for the next governor are tax relief, spending, and pension reforms.

More numbers from the survey show:

  • 56% increased prices due to inflation
  • 33% high cost of living for employees
  • 24% tax relief
  • 22% state spending and pension reforms

Bob Stefanowski the Republican candidate for governor told the crowd of 300, “You are the shareholders of the state of Connecticut.” He wants to pay off the unemployment insurance debt, taking the tax off the back of businesses.

Governor Ned Lamont is only paying the interest.

Stefanowski says even if it’s $400 million, we should use it for that. “We’ll get more back from small businesses in return if we do it,” he said.

Stefanowski would lower taxes including sales, fuel, and meals, and loosen regulations, using half of the $6-billion rainy day fund to pay for it. He says under Lamont the state has spent $4 billion more.

Lamont fired back saying, “state employees’ salaries went up less than the rate of inflation. Does he want me …to cut daycare or childcare?”

Lamont opted to pay down debt and invest millions in workforce training.

“I need more people back in the workforce. I need less people sitting on the sidelines,” said Lamont.

Lamont touts efficient transportation, more childcare, and 5,000 in business tax credits for those who help employees with student loan debt.

Lamont is up by double digits in the latest polls.

Stefanowski not buying it. “Our polls show us with 3 to 4 within the margin of error,” he said.

Lamont responded, “They dispute polls and they dispute elections.”

Lamont says his $650 million in tax cuts, plus new online gaming and marijuana revenues are key.

Both have work to do. Neither had a solution for the labor shortage.

John Cafasso, a principal at Colliers International, said commitments from either candidate were not there. “To be determined – whether the verdict is out.”

A bright spot in the survey, 68% of businesses said they made a profit last year and they are hopeful for the next six months.