Sen. Martin, Greater Bristol Legislators: Malloy’s tax plan hurts business (Bristol Press)

March 5, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Bristol Press

BRISTOL — The only Democrat representing Bristol in the General Assembly took aim this week at Gov. Dannel Malloy’s bid to restrict tax credits that help ESPN.

“That is bad government. I am very upset about this,” said state Rep. Frank Nicastro, a former mayor who is in his fifth term in the 79th District.

Taking back a promised tax credit is a terrible thing to do to one of the state’s premier employers that is “giving countless jobs to Bristol people,” he said.

In his proposed two-year, $40 billion budget, the Democratic governor sought to boost state revenue by $72 million in the coming year by slicing in half the yearly tax credits offered to companies in television and digital media production such as ESPN. The move would likely cost the Bristol-based company millions of dollars.

State Rep. Cara Pavalock, a Bristol Republican, said the revision would “change the terms of an agreement the administration made with ESPN” to help cover the cost of its new digital center, the new home of SportsCenter.
“He never gave them a warning,” Nicastro said. “He rewards them by taking back what he promised them.”

As mayor for a decade, Nicastro said he often used grants to lure companies to Bristol. He said he never reneged on a deal.

“If I promised somebody something, even if things got tough, I kept my word,” he said.

Nicastro asked how Malloy would feel if ESPN now turned around and said it would move out of state. “How would the governor like it if they bailed out tomorrow?”

ESPN’s spokesman, Mike Soltys, has said the company is analyzing the governor’s proposal. He said the revision “could have a significant impact on ESPN and the growing Connecticut television industry.”

The rest of Bristol’s legislative delegation — GOP state Rep. Whit Betts and state Sen. Henri Martin — is also firmly opposed to Malloy’s suggested change in the tax credit.

“It’s kind of like the Connecticut state government is Lucy, and our job creators, like ESPN and others, are Charlie Brown,” Martin said. “We are pulling the football away from Charlie Brown just as he is about to kick it.”

Other lawmakers are also taking note.

State Rep. John Piscopo, a Thomaston Republican, vowed to fight the proposal as well.

“For companies such as ESPN, it impacts their ability to plan and manage their business, which can influence their thinking on where to make future investments,” Piscopo said.

Nicastro said he is simply shaking his head at the notion that Malloy would go after ESPN, one of the firms he singled out for state aid as part of his First Five program during his first term.

“I can’t believe it,” Nicastro said.