Malloy vetoes economic development bill for Oxford Airport area [Connecticut Post]

July 11, 2011

Story as it appeared in the Connecticut Post on July 11, 2011

OXFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy vetoed a bill on Monday that would have granted tax exemptions and credits to businesses near the Waterbury-Oxford Airport.

Calling the bill “premature,” Malloy said he wanted to wait until the recently created Connecticut Airport Authority came up with a more detailed plan before authorizing the tax exemptions, which would have benefitted businesses in Oxford, Middlebury and Southbury.

The bill would have provided exemptions from town taxes, but the impacted towns would have been reimbursed by the state for any lost revenue.

Republican lawmakers who sponsored the bill expressed disappointment Monday, questioning Malloy’s decision.

Sen. Rob Kane, who represents all three towns, said in a statement, “How ironic that just as Governor Malloy has embarked on his `Jobs Tour’ of the state, he is effectively killing future Connecticut jobs with one stroke of his pen. The creation of an Oxford Airport Development Zone was a bipartisan effort to foster new business development, add jobs and generate new municipal and state tax revenues.”

Malloy said in his veto that the bill “on a more limited scale, might be advantageous or desirable in the future, it is premature now.”

“Clearly, the CAA must play a significant role in the economic development future of Oxford Airport and surrounding areas,” Malloy said. “Given this fact — and the importance of developing one integrated approach to our initiatives in this field — it is premature to approve an airport development zone that includes areas surrounding Oxford Airport and beyond before the CAA has the opportunity to properly analyze and consider the implications of such a zone in the context of its larger mission purpose.”

Rep. David Labriola, R-131, said, “I’m hopeful that next session will see passage of an Oxford Airport enterprise zone within the context and structure of the newly established Connecticut Airport Authority.”

The bill was supported by the state delegation for Oxford, Southbury and Middlebury, including Kane, Rep. Arthur O’Neill, R-69, Rep. Anthony D’Amelio, R-71, and Labriola.

The bill’s sponsors had hoped the development zone would bring jobs and revenue to the towns and state. The Republicans previously warned that the governor’s tax hikes on airplanes in Connecticut could drive pilots out of the state.

The Waterbury-Oxford Airport, opened in 1969, is state-owned and operated by the Department of Transportation. The airport handles between 150 and 600 aircraft per day and went through major upgrades in 2008, including a widening of taxiways, new hangars, a noise abatement program and a restaurant and bar near the airfield.

Malloy has signed 163 bills, vetoed five bills and returned one bill without signature to the 2011 Legislative Session.

Staff writer Tom Cleary can be reached at 203-540-9827 or by email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @tomwcleary.

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