From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Feb 6 10:22:24 2000
Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 23:24:40 -0600 (CST)
Greg LeRoy <email@example.com>
Subject: Connecticut Vote Likely on Corp Subsidy Accountability
Pratt & Whitney's announcement of plans to cuts its Connecticut workforce by another 1,500 employees drew strong reactions Friday from the co-chairmen of the General Assembly's Labor Committee, who said it is time for Connecticut to demand more corporate responsibility in exchange for state investment.
We're looking at an entire industry gradually leaving Connecticut,
an industry that has received millions and millions of government
dollars, said Rep. Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden.
drastic has to be done.
If companies are going to come to this state for tax breaks or
state dollars in any way, we have to have corporate
responsibility, said Sen. Edith G. Prague.
If they are going
to lay people off, we ought to get our money back.
Prague and Donovan were referring to a 1993 pact between the state and United Technologies Corp., Pratt's corporate parent, that provided $32 million in research and development tax credits, grants, and other financial incentives.
After tossing it around the state Senate for a few years, legislators are hopeful that a revised corporate accountability bill will pass this year, thanks to new support from Senate President Kevin Sullivan.
The bill, which is still being drafted, would essentially require businesses that get state economic development money to stay in the state to offer pro-rated pay and benefits to part-timers and temps and to create new, quality jobs. It also calls for strict monitoring by state economic development agencies, and for loan recipients to immediately repay their state loans if they don't meet the employment standards.
Sen. Edith Prague, co-chairwoman of the Labor Committee and a long-time supporter of corporate-responsibility legislation, says the measure might also include language to insure that both full-time and part-time workers are paid a livable wage.
Labor Committee Co-Chairman Chris Donovan, a state representative from Meriden, wants the state to invest in businesses that invest in the community and that protect taxpayers' interests. His concern, he says, is not so much that formal laws regarding these businesses exist, but that the laws are enforced and regularly monitored. He believes support from Sullivan--who couldn't be reached for comment--will give the bill a boost this legislative session, which begins in February.
However, it's possible that opposition from Gov. John Rowland's office could squash the bill once again.
It would hurt business in Connecticut if we were to impose laws
that are more restrictive than neighboring states, says Rowland
spokesman Chris Cooper. At the same time, he maintains that the
provisions the bill calls for are already in place. He claims that
since Rowland took office, Connecticut businesses have received only
loans requiring repayment and not
According to Tom Ciccalone, spokesman for the Department of Economic and Community Development, the department already has a watchdog team, which monitors and enforces state contractsand is actually able to troubleshoot violations before they happen. He says state statutes already require businesses that receive aid to stay in the state for at least 10 years.
As for the proposed higher wages and benefits for part-time and
temporary workers, Ciccalone says:
Because we're in a global
economy now, we want to make sure we are not at a competitive
disadvantage with other states as well as other countries.
Prague strongly disagrees.
We feel it's necessary to protect
taxpayers' dollars in big business. These companies need to have more
responsibility to the taxpayers and to the state.
She cites pending layoffs at Pratt & Whitney as an example of big business taking advantage of state generosity and further proof that new standards should be set in place.
Although Pratt & Whitney is not moving out of state, they're
laying off and moving positions out of state, says Peggy Shorey,
director of Citizens for Economic Opportunities, a Hartford-based
citizen watchdog group.
Technically they meet their agreement to
taxpayers, but not ethically. We just want to hold them to their
Shorey would also like to see a broader and more thorough monitoring
of businesses that receive state aid, how many quality jobs are
offered and the rate of pay. She believes that new
language woven throughout the bill will draw a more favorable reaction
than in years past from both Democrats and Republicans.
It would be very distressing to see the governor veto this bill,
because it's just good public policy, says Shorey.
Donovan says he'll introduce the bill in the Labor Committee, confident that Sullivan's support will make a difference.
Prague agrees, although she can't decide if it's her political acuity
or optimism talking.
The support of senate leadership makes it
very likely that the bill will be passed this year.