New York’s Governor Reportedly Enticing General Electric To Move [Hartford Courant]

August 18, 2015

Article as it appeared in the Hartford Courant

A spokesman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy declined comment Tuesday on a report that his fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, made a recruiting trip last month to General Electric Co. headquarters in Fairfield.

Cuomo quietly met with GE executives on July 30 and talked about incentives for a possible move to nearby Westchester County, N.Y., according to a report Tuesday by Politico New York.

GE has been outspoken in its disenchantment with Connecticut’s corporate tax policies. Earlier this year, company officials took the unusual step of issuing a public statement as state legislators were discussing a proposal to increase taxes on some major corporations. The “combined reporting” tax proposal that concerned GE was pushed back to 2016.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, traveled to Connecticut in late June for a widely reported meeting with corporate leaders about relocating to his state, although he declined to say if GE was among the companies he visited.

Republicans said Cuomo’s visit was important.

“This is not Texas or Florida,” said Sen. Tony Hwang, a Fairfield Republican whose district includes GE. “This is the next state over. It’s much more dramatic. This is New York, and they are making a pitch, and GE is entertaining it.”

Hwang called Cuomo’s visit “a bit of a zing” to Malloy, a fellow Northeastern Democrat.

“But it’s not surprising,” Hwang said. “GE made it quite clear that they have formed an exploratory committee, and they do not bluff.”

Connecticut’s fiscal policies are unproductive to growth, Hwang said. “The numbers don’t lie, and when the state next door comes over and says we can provide a better business climate, that should send a loud and clear signal.”

While confirming that Cuomo visited Connecticut July 30, Politico New York reported that the governor’s office didn’t provide details about the trip and declined to comment about it.

GE has been frank about searching for new quarters.

“We have formed an exploratory team to assess the company’s options to relocate corporate headquarters,” said Dominic McMullan, a company spokesman. “The team is currently engaged in the process and is taking many factors into consideration. When there is a final decision on relocation, we will communicate it publicly.”

New York state has been pursuing GE for more than two months. State Rep. John Frey, R-Ridgefield, was the first legislator to talk publicly about GE’s plans when he said he received a telephone call from Jeffrey S. Bornstein, GE’s chief financial officer, about Malloy’s proposed tax increases and whether GE would stay in Connecticut.

Frey said he was shaken by the call and said Bornstein told him in a second conversation that GE had received a call from New York state on June 1 about possibly moving there.

When Scott arrived from Florida on a two-day tour to lure Connecticut companies to his home state, he said that Malloy and the legislature had made it easier for him by raising taxes here. Scott spoke to business leaders at the Hartford Hilton hotel before heading to Norwalk the following morning in an attempt to lure jobs to his state.

Scott said he was in Connecticut because GE and Hartford-based Aetna and Travelers had complained publicly about a package of increased business taxes that was crafted by Malloy and the Democrat-controlled legislature. The legislature later amended the state’s two-year, $40 billion budget to keep some business taxes at current levels.