On an otherwise uneventful Wednesday evening, I was about to leave one of my favorite Hartford happy hours when I overheard an exciting statement from a fellow millennial sitting next to me. “I was going to leave Connecticut until I got involved in state politics and then I decided to stick around,” she said to her friend.

If you’ve been reading the recent opinion pieces around the state, you will have noticed the dyspeptic arguments against living here. It’s been a seemingly endless flow of discontent and I’m tired of rolling my eyes so often. So in spite of the obvious risk of being called naive and reductive, I’d like to offer one millennial’s thoughts on staying in Connecticut.

I was elated to hear a fellow local millennial who wants to stay in Connecticut as a result of involvement. This is not the first time I’ve heard this kind of talk from my own generation. I live in downtown Hartford and the young people here are consistently enthusiastic about seeing Hartford flourish. We want to live somewhere unique and personal. We want to make Connecticut cities our own.

Here are some statistics in case you’ve been busy preparing a lackluster Dear John letter for when you leave the state with clenched fists. In April of this year, Bloomberg reported that 75 percent of recent movers to the New Haven-Milford area are millennials. Admittedly, there is an overall outbound trend when it comes to Connecticut movers, but they are largely part of the older generations — people from 45 to 65 and older. One study shows that millennials equal roughly 40 percent of movers coming into Connecticut.

Presently, millennials constitute well over one third of the nation’s workforce and our values and lifestyles are already changing the way companies think about workplace culture and benefits. On the whole, we’re also more educated and more ethnically and racially diverse than the generations before us. We have a wonderful advantage to bring about the change we want to see in Connecticut if we just get involved. But we also need to be prudent enough not to take our cues from the naysayers within the Baby Boomer generation.

The cynic in me says New Englanders tend to be an inherently grumpy, dissatisfied group. Misery loves company. On the other hand, the realist would argue that the complainers do have certain rational points to discuss but would rather flee than take part in the sometimes long, arduous political process of engendering change. While I think our state can learn from the criticism from members of the Connecticut Disgruntlement Committee, those critics should also be willing to step up and get involved.

The folks who incessantly bemoan Connecticut but choose to do nothing constructive in their communities abdicate their civic duties by falling into the uninspiring tide of antipathy.

The perfunctory but effective citizen does not exist. You can make a difference by writing a letter to your representative, attending a town meeting, organizing an event, peacefully protesting at the capitol, calling your senator or having meaningful dialogue with your neighbors.

While you’re at it, get out to a Yard Goats or Athletic game, volunteer, take a stroll around the state’s many parks and historical sites, attend some of the best festivals and fairs in New England, stir your interest in the arts at nationally-recognized theaters statewide, satiate your palate in the many top-notch Connecticut restaurants, breweries and vineyards.

The folks who incessantly bemoan Connecticut but choose to do nothing constructive in their communities abdicate their civic duties by falling into the uninspiring tide of antipathy.

Beyond all these great things in which to get involved, it’s time to accept that the talents, skills, ideas and ambition of the citizenry is what makes a state thrive. The people —diverse and multitalented— make the place. Our collective community involvement, pride in our cities, and, ultimately, our state count for a lot more than we care to acknowledge. Civic engagement connects us with people, challenges us to listen to one another, encourages us to speak with our politicians and to participate in local events.

Complaining about bygones and what ifs (although I do wish the Whalers would make a glorious Hartford comeback one day) doesn’t move our state forward. We, especially the millennials of Connecticut, need to create the state we want to live in through civic engagement. Vote, run for office, rally together, innovate, show up and speak out even when you don’t feel like it, hold elected officials accountable.

Millennials have an increasingly direct, tangible responsibility in designing this state’s future, both politically and culturally. If we decide to stick around, as my fellow millennial said, then we have taken the first step in our civic engagement —recognizing our dynamic and growing foothold in every sphere of Connecticut society. Let’s not take it for granted.

Jared Todd lives in Hartford.

Join the Conversation

28 Comments

  1. No one wants to leave they Have to leave.Ct is a beautiful state with,many nice parks etc.Problem is it’s to exspensive for retires with,the high cost if living and excessive high taxes.

  2. I applaud your optimism and energy, it is greatly needed, but civic engagement alone does not provide fiscal stability (or greater opportunities for your generation) without SIGNIFICANT policy changes. These are clearly demanded by the private sector, that employs most of us, yet taxes and cost of living continue to increase and the tax base continues to decline – shocker!

    The best form of civic engagement for millennials would be to stop voting for politicians who promise “free” anything, they are lying to you, as we have learned that hard way in Connecticut.

      1. There are dozens of subsidized government programs that have been politicized by politicians. The budget has grown from ~ $7 Billion in 1992 to over $20 Billion now and most of it goes directly into government spending, welfare, and the DOC. However, about 29% (~$6B) of the $20 Billion is used to service debt and pay for “non-functional” government programs – so thats about $4.6K per household per year and it’s growing – that represents the true cost of unsustainable programs and worse again most of these well meaning programs end up failing anyway!

      2. Yes, I can. We taxpayers currently subsidize tuition for “undocumented” immigrants at state universities by granting them in-state tuition rates. Granted, they don’t exactly get a “free” ride, but they also aren’t paying what they should be paying and you and I are paying the difference. As one who has paid for my own degree and contributed to my kid’s college costs, I really resent paying for a discount to those mentioned above.

      3. How do you feel about your money subsidizing massive corporations that don’t pay their fair share of taxes? Ok with that, huh?

      4. f you don’t like the corporate tax situation, change the tax code. After all, you are apparently the final arbiter of tax fairness.

    1. The right-wingers can’t tell us how letting corporations and the wealthy off the hook for taxes helps CT. They just keep repeating the tired old mantra, fail, and repeat.

      1. Regardless of left or right socioeconomic policies the DRS data is just data, it does not really care who you vote for. We lost over $3 Billion in total taxable income in the 2016-2017 period and business leaders confidence with Connecticuts politicians is at an all time low of 11%. This is really bad news for private investment and while we do have some pockets of growth much of the development in our cities is also subsidized by the state and federal tax dollars – without large employers many of those projects will ultimately fail after the initial growth spurt ends. We MUST have organic growth and the economic policies of the last 30 years in Connecticut have clearly failed – we need to repeal them.

  3. Sounds like one of the many “spokespersons” employed by the state.
    Stick around,Jared, and let us know how it works out for you.

  4. Just about every office tower in Hartford that used to house jobs is being converted to apartments and condos with federal money and subsidies. How is this good for Connecticut or Hartford? Keep importing people but no jobs!

    1. Unfortunately, it isn’t federal money. It’s CRDA money which is bonded Connecticut debt. And then subsidy rate can be as high as 90%.

      So, anyone looking to invest in a Hartford thinks of how much state money they can get, rather than whether the investment is viable.

  5. First off, I didn’t like this article because I had to look up words on google dictionary every couple sentences. This kid puts a bad light on us millennials by making us out to be a bunch of haughty over-educated yuppies, which is totally not the case. As an educated (undergraduate) working class millennial I took advice from my baby boomer friends and colleagues to move out of Connecticut. After being away for 5 years I am more than ready to move back. The tax structure here in PA is awesome, with just below 4% income tax and dirt cheap property taxes. HOWEVER with that comes absolutely no road maintenance, no public services, and no regulatory enforcement. Every time the wind kicks above 20mph the power goes out for days or weeks at a time. People also burn their garbage and have toxic private landfills in their backyards. Fact is you get what you pay for, and when you go cheap you end up with junk. What I am sick of is going back home for a visit and hearing all the 45+ age folks complain about CT when their entire lives have been spent living in the town they grew up in.

    1. Hi Chris, we welcome your comments but please note that our guidelines require that comments be limited to 1,000 characters. We will not be able to approve comments that exceed that limit going forward.

  6. Indifferent to the writer’s assumption many as I, (59 yrs old) do serve on boards, and do a great deal of civic duty, without which our towns would greatly suffer. Despite this (look at Boston), we have no control over corporate entities who pass on CT. We have no control over the burgeoning debt being amassed by the Capitol City politicians. We have no control over the constant “kicking the debt can down the road” rather than facing the state union problems. My property value has gone down when other states are seeing great growth rates.

    This will come to haunt you in the 45 to 65 yr old range like the folks you cite as fleeing the state. It’s nice to be in the beginning of your career looking at the rose colored landscape, but when the State’s financial problems hit the fan, you too will have an “endless flow of discontent” over things you cannot control no matter how much time you spent on boards, commissions, and the like. Experience is a wise teacher that you’ll soon meet.

  7. The most frequently cited reasons for moving out of Connecticut are financial, e.g., high taxes and cost of living. A second salient reason exists that is not often discussed: the perpetual one-party political system. The two factors go hand in hand. As long as the Democrats remain in power the high taxes and cost of living will continue to spiral as they strive for economic equality. And, as many millennials demonstrate an inexplicable penchant for socialist-style government they will continue to vote for Democrats. Therefore, the perpetual one-party government system extant in Connecticut plays a major factor in people’s choices to leave for the proverbial “greener pastures”—and its significance cannot be underestimated. Until that changes people who can will continue to flee the state.

    1. Your comment certainly resonates with me. It is difficult to imagine a turnaround in this state with continued one party Democrat rule. And I don’t see a change in the political landscape, so I project that Connecticut’s death spiral will continue.

    2. Funny that several writers express their plans to move to Mass., a state dominated by Democrats, but doing substantially better than we are. I’m afraid that the reason for our problems lies elsewhere. Sorry if your argument is deflated by that fact.

      1. Boston has a thiriving economy and a third less property taxes then Hartford. Get some education Herb!

  8. The Democrats already have a lock on this state politically. How’s that working out? When millennials are in charge the political landscape will shift even further to the left, as in more socialism and redistribution. One possible change they might effort, though, is to break through the unholy Democrat-state union stranglehold. Hope springs eternal there.

    Personally, I’m not sure this state can recover from the fiscal damage already done. We may be rearranging the deck chairs on the S.S. Connecticut.

  9. I’ve lived in CT for 38 years….my entire life….I have been ready to leave since about 24 years….this article is coming from someone who can afford to be beat down by taxes and can withstand the growing gap between the rich and poor. The people who want to leave instead of staying to tough it out have been suffering worse than me, if people could afford the move to another state….you would see a mass exodus….people are trapped, and misery loves company is the dumbest thing I’ve heard coming from anyone, you all have led sheltered privilege lives, even if you are not aware of that fact. Notice how the entire comment section so far is against this article? I’ll be damned if I let my family struggle anymore, I’m moving to mass and selling my house by next winter. Let the politicians run the state into the ground without me.

  10. I wonder when the state money to bail out Hartford is thrown into the tax mix and can not be kicked down the road. When millennials are paying 50% of their income in taxes then the “Complaints” will start.

  11. Well, more power to ya! My hat’s off to you.
    But wait a minute…we did engage. We did participate. We were young, we were ibvikved. For 50 years I was self employed. Ran multiple business, got involved. Watched other manufacturers, my customer base, leave. This happened over time, 40 years. None of this is new. CT lack of understanding that private enterprise and small business is what drives the State is not a new concept. I’m done with my tour. I am now passing the torch to You! And for the next 40 years, you will do the same thing, and at the end of Your tour, you too will hang up the snow shovel and look back on what you wrote today. Good luck my friend.

  12. When you have lived in a house you bought 35 years ago and realize you will sell it for substantially less than you paid for it, all because of CT governmental tax and spend policies during that time you may change your mind about our lovely state.

  13. In response to this anecdotal opinion piece I will provide our anecdotal evidence. Our three now married millennial children have all left Connecticut. We have placed a deposit on a home in Massachusetts where they at least understand the value of creating viable businesses. We will have a house for sale, so I hope you are right that there are so many millennials coming to live here, but I’m not confident that you are on the right side of the facts.

  14. we moved to CT from Manhattan and we couldn’t be happier. Taxes? far less here than in NY, we enjoy the community, the festivals, and all of the benefits our taxes provide (schools, roads, infrastructure, etc) . How about an audit of corporate taxes, making sure they’re paying their share?

Leave a comment
Cancel reply