NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven area business leaders got to sit down with their legislators and discuss what’s important to them. It was the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Regional Legislative Forum Breakfast, and businesses had one main concern.

“This is a very, very expensive place to live, to do business,” said John Emra, the Atlantic Region President of AT&T. “Let’s try to lower the cost of living, lower the cost of operating a business here.”

Garrett Sheehan, the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO, said the state needs to continue to make smart choices.

“Not overregulate, keep taxes low to the extent that we can,” Sheehan said. “There are some opportunities with the unemployment trust fund to pay down some of that debt that, otherwise, businesses will have to pay.”

“And we have the ability to do it,” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford) said. “As you heard, we have an operating surplus in the current budget in the billions. Not just millions, it’s billions.”

That’s right, lawmakers have the good problem of deciding how to spend a surplus in this budget year. One thing both sides of the aisle want is more affordable housing.

“Because if you live in a house that is a quality house where the roof doesn’t leak, guess what? You have a different perspective on your community,” Kelly said.

Where to put it may be the battle.

“Affordable housing has to be built across the board, in the cities, and in the suburbs, who have shirked their responsibility up until now,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said.

One underutilized source of help is the Community Investment Fund.

“That’s $175 million of infrastructure funding for our nonprofits and our municipalities,” said State Rep. Dorinda Borer (D-West Haven). “That’s an application process.”

Borer said they had had fewer than expected applicants for that money.

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