Sen. Kane Op-Ed: “Oxford airport can take flight”

August 16, 2013

The following op-ed was published in the August 16, 2013 edition of the Waterbury Republican-American.

By Sen. Robert J. Kane

“Try it. You might like it.”

As parents, we repeat that phrase to our children at the kitchen table, coaxing them to eat their vegetables and other foods in an attempt to help them grow up healthy and strong.

As a Connecticut legislator, I often feel I am saying the same thing to my colleagues in Hartford. The only difference is that it is in reference to tax cuts instead of carrots.

For the past few years, that advice hasn’t been heeded at the Capitol. In fact, the opposite approach has been embraced. The result? The largest tax increase in state history.

People don’t venture into high-crime areas, and businesses don’t set up shop in areas where taxes are high. That’s common sense. In Connecticut, our burdensome taxes act as a barrier to job growth.

That’s why, for the past three years, I have been proud to be a part of a strong coalition of state and local leaders from our region. We have been pushing for the creation of a development zone around Waterbury-Oxford Airport.

We have been convinced that if we could just lower the taxes in the zone, businesses would take note. Create a climate that is pro-growth and the jobs will follow.

For years, that message has been repeated to anyone and everyone who would listen. We wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Were we stubborn? Did we dig in our heels? You bet. We did so because we knew our vision was the right one for our region.

This week, our persistence finally paid off. The Connecticut Airport Authority, under the leadership of Executive Director Kevin Dillon, approved a motion to create an Oxford Airport Development Zone.

Businesses in the zone will be able to apply for a five-year, 80-percent abatement of local property taxes on real and personal property, as well as a 10-year, 25 percent to 50 percent credit on part of the state’s corporation business tax.

It’s just the type of clear, straightforward message we should be sending to the private sector.

We can’t just say Connecticut is “open for business” and think the jobs will fall out of the sky. We have to back up our words with actions if we ever hope to turn the state’s economy around.

Some will see the airport incentive zone as risky. I see it as a golden opportunity and a starting point.

The airport’s proximity to Route 8 and Interstate 84 makes this designated area very attractive to developers. The new businesses and corporations we hope to attract here will help small businesses such as gasoline stations, restaurants and hotels.

We have provided an environment that is conducive to growing jobs.

That environment soon will bear fruit, enabling the airport to realize its full potential as a regional asset.

To the doubters, I provide the same advice I mentioned above. “Try it, you might like it.” And when it comes to reducing taxes for all, who knows? That phrase could finally catch on in the Land of Steady Habits.

**Sen. Kane, a Republican who lives in Watertown, represents the 32nd Senate District, which includes Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Middlebury, Oxford, Roxbury, Seymour, Southbury, Washington, Watertown and Woodbury.