Jobs and Town Aid Roads Top Bond Commission Agenda

Jobs and Town Aid Roads Top Bond Commission Agenda

CT Newws Junkie, June 4, 2018

by Christine Stuart 

The state Bond Commission approved $233.5 million in general obligation bonds Friday, including $1.5 million for a Massachusetts manufacturing company to relocate to Putnam, $9 million for PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP to expand in Stamford, and $35 million to help Electric Boat in Groton ramp up for production of Columbia class submarines.

Within the $233.5 million total, the Bond Commission on Friday approved $80.7 million for 16 companies to relocate, expand, and create new jobs throughout the state. The companies are expected to retain 15,003 jobs and create 3,876 jobs.

But the funding didn’t come without questions from members of the Bond Commission.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo asked if the money for Electric Boat was necessary or if the growth would have happened there regardless.

“It was needed to make us more competitive for repair work,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said.

He said right now there’s no room for additional repair work to be done at the facility.

Malloy, who chairs the Bond Commission, said the repair work might have gone to Rhode Island or Virginia without the investment. The increase in repair work will help the company ramp up its operations for the new Columbia class of submarines, which are much bigger than the Virginia class.

Lembo also wanted to know why Connecticut was giving $1.3 million to Walgreens, a Fortune 500 company.

Malloy explained that with the recent acquisition of Rite Aid, Walgreens has to build up its distribution on the east coast and Connecticut was in competition with other states. The company is expected to create 100 jobs within five years.

Malloy also pointed out that Walgreens makes an effort to employ people with disabilities.

Lembo also expressed concern about a $450,000 loan to Sheffield Pharmaceuticals.

Lembo asked whether Sheffield has proven that it is no longer a bad actor when it comes to pollution. In 2016, the New London-based company paid a $1 million fine for violating the Clean Water Act.

Malloy said the company is two presidents removed from the one who was responsible for the pollution.

“We are well aware of the difficulties this company previously experienced,” Malloy said.

He said all of it was taken into consideration at the time the $450,000 loan to the company was made. The company will be expected to retain 130 jobs and create 22 new jobs over three years.

Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-Greenwich, said he doesn’t believe PriceWaterhouseCoopers was going to take its 946 jobs anywhere. He said he felt $9 million to create 400 jobs was still excessive.

Malloy said they were in competition with New York and New Jersey for these jobs.

“I would love to live in a country where we’re not pitting one state against 49 others,” Malloy said. “What we’re not doing is paying $130 million for 200 jobs which Massachusetts not so long ago did.”

Malloy was referring to General Electric, which announced in 2016 that it would move its headquarters to Boston. The company has since made headlines for layoffs, a possible break-up, and analysts predicting that it may soon be delisted from the Dow Jones Exchange.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP acquired the GE Tax Group in December.

Town Aid Roads, finally back to top

The Bond Commission also approved $30 million for cities and towns to repair their roads.

The long-awaited funding for the roads is the second installment.

Towns and cities remained anxious about receiving the full complement of state aid that they had included in their municipal budgets to conduct critical repair work during this Spring season.

Malloy had refused to release the money to the towns until the General Assembly increased the amount of revenue going to the special transportation fund, which the legislature agreed to in its adjusted the state budget that passed with bipartisan approval May 9.

By passing the budget and increasing the amount of money going into the special transportation fund, the legislature “averted, at least temporarily, a catastrophe — which would be the inability of the state to bond for transportation projects,” Malloy said.

Local governments have long depended upon these grants.

As of 2015, according to the Department of Transportation, municipalities own and maintain 17,365 road miles — more than four times greater than the 4,143 road miles owned and maintained by the state. Seventy-three percent of Connecticut’s roads are in poor or mediocre condition according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities said they appreciated the release of the funds. A breakdown of how much each town will receive can be found here.

The Connecticut Council of Small Towns also applauded the release of the funds.

“Unfortunately, the failure to release the second installment of Town Aid Road grants in January made it difficult for towns to enter into contracts to ensure that road work could begin in a timely manner,” Elizabeth Gara, executive director of COST, said. “As a result, many towns delayed paving roads, patching potholes, sealing cracks, and making other needed road repairs. This is a big concern because well-maintained roads are critical to the safety of residents and the vitality of our state and local economies.”