Senator Toni Boucher Remarks from Jobs Special Session

October 26, 2011

Jobs Package –

Hartford CT – The October jobs special session has been a culmination of a jobs tour and business forum. We have started to tackle major issues that affect small and large businesses.

Many of the proposals in this bill addressed concerns by a number of owners in our small business sector. Of particular interest – besides cost – was the delay in approvals or denials of permits which often derail important investments in our state as “the time cost of money” forces some companies to lose financial backing.

Not only was this issue addressed, but important approvals in other areas were also tackled. Vo-tech schools became a focus of the legislation, including new skills for the 21st century. Transportation infrastructure improvements and airport enterprise zones received positive votes by everyone in the Senate.

Jackson Lab Deal –

The other bill addressed in the special session has many more unanswered questions which ultimately resulted in divided votes.

Below are State Senator Toni Boucher’s (R-Wilton) remarks from the floor of the Senate:

“This exciting opportunity is one that under different parameters would receive my enthusiastic support. 15 years ago as a new member of the Connecticut House, I had two areas of focus; education and bio-technology – bio-science.

In those early years I partnered with colleagues, scientists, bio-tech firms and the pre-cursor to CURE (Connecticut United for Research Excellence) – to enact Research and Development tax credits that exist to this day albeit with many changes since.

As a witness to the University of California – San Diego transformation to a leading research institute, I know that it can happen here. My vision and that of others was to see our premier state university – UCONN do the same.

Over the years, the University of Connecticut has elevated our state to national prominence. Its stature and reputation has placed it in the top 20 universities in the United States. And, the citizens of our state have helped to make this happen by allowing the power of their scarce tax dollars to be invested in both UCONN 2000 and UCONN 21st Century.

I have been supportive of not only these initiatives but also of its healthcare center, state investments in fuel cell research and its ascension to division one football, with its new stadium and playing field. In addition I strongly supported our investment in stem cell research because I believe the future for our state is in the sciences and technology.

The Jackson Laboratory proposal has much to offer, all positive for our ailing economy it promises to create:

  • A bio-science research cluster
  • The labs prestige will help attract leading scientists from around the world
  • And there is promise that it will create many spin off jobs.

However, what holds me back from this vote today is the knowledge that states often build or fund lab space on state land, to lure not only non-profits but also for-profit companies. Usually, the state or university holds ownership on those buildings and land because it is investing the taxpayer’s money.

This proposal would give away a $200 million building and $99 million in additional research dollars. The return to the tax payer would be the possibility that Jackson Laboratory could create 300 to 600 jobs – in 10 to 20 years.

My comfort level would be greatly increased if, in exchange for free rent and tax relief, the state’s investment in $200 million building and land were to remain in state hands or the University of Connecticut’s hands.

There could be provisions that could transfer those assets if certain economic benchmarks are met over 20 years. It is the fiduciary responsibility of the executive and legislative branches to negotiate a fair contract where all parties assume a measure of some risk and some reward.”