At the special legislative session scheduled for Oct. 26th, Democratic lawmakers will propose bonding $291 million for the Jackson Laboratory project planned for Farmington. It’s the state’s contribution to the $1.1 billion project. Jackson Labs plans to invest $800 million. Democrats are hoping for support from Republicans to make it a bipartisan bill but are now skeptical of that happening. They plan to try to work things out in a meeting of legislative leaders scheduled for Tuesday.
State Senate Majority Marty Looney, a leader on efforts to create and maintain jobs in the state, calls the Jackson Lab project “an exciting prospect.” “Jackson Labs make it clear they were considering Connecticut because of the state’s commitment to the UConn Health Center in Farmington,” Looney said. “This project will enable the state to have a three-point, biotech triangle between UConn, Jackson and Yale.” Looney represents parts of New Haven and Hamden.
There is serious question as to whether Republicans will support the deal. When it was first unveiled, Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and House Minority Larry Cafero spoke positively about the plan. McKinney told the Hartford Courant at the end of September, “This is exciting news. I appreciate the governor involving us, wanting to work with our respective caucuses and move forward, and that’s exactly why we’re here. I find the times when we agree and work together a lot more enjoyable than the times we don’t.”
But going by his more recent comments, Cafero seems to be backing off. Following a recent hearing on small business that saw angry comments from small business owners concerned about government action that hurts their livelihoods, Cafero told CTMirror.com, “how do we defend that vote? [to spend $291 million]. What do we tell [GOP caucus members]?” Other republicans are skeptical of the job creation forecasts.
Looney says that is certainly a change of heart. “In our first meeting, the Republicans seemed very positive about making this a bipartisan effort. But that may have changed given Cafero’s recent comments,” Looney said.
Meanwhile, state Sentor Len Suzio (R-Meriden) continues to show that he is absolutely clueless. Suzio–who proposed defunding Planned Parenthood–claims that his former employment at a bio-tech firm in the ’80s gives him insight.
“It’s a stupid, unbelievably reckless thing for the state to do,” Suzio CTCapitolwatch.com. “It’s a giveaway. It’s not a loan. I can’t believe how stupid this deal is. … This is a governor who is desperate for some kind of dramatic economic activity, but we have no business being in venture capital. It was turned down in Florida. He’s willing to take risk that is far beyond what we should be taking. This is nuts. This is a $291 million bribe, plus interest.”
What’s “unbelievable and stupid” is Suzio’s approach to job creation and his generally moronic positions on issues. The people of the 13th senatorial district (Meriden, Cheshire, Middlefield and Middletown) should think long and hard about this guy next November. And oh, by the way, Jackson project was not “turned down” by Florida. Florida officials simply couldn’t get their act together and they now regret it.
In fact, in Florida, they are now bemoaning the fact that they missed out. In a lengthy editorial today, the (Florida) Herald-Tribune call it “The Jackson Mystery” (Tom Dudchik’s CTCapitolReport.com provides a lik to the story). The paper says in part, “In the end, there was no partnership and no deal [in Sarasota or anywhere in Florida], and now Jackson appears ready to expand into Connecticut — creating jobs, producing research and laying the groundwork to generate spinoff business in bio-life sciences.”
The Jackson Lab project has already become a political issue. Democratic State Party Chair Nancy DiNardo issued a statement calling out Republicans on their apparent hesitation in supporting the project and calling them “The Party of ‘no.’” “Two weeks ago, there were high hopes that this proposal could move forward with bipartisan support for the benefit of Connecticut and its residents. Yesterday, though, what we heard from the Republicans was nothing but doubt, hesitation and stall tactics,” DiNardo said.
“If these legislators have their way, we will again miss out on an opportunity to grow industry in our state because of a fear of taking bold action,” she said.
Actually Gov. Malloy and the legislative Democrats don’t need Republicans votes to approve the $291 million for the project. They control both chambers of the legislature.