Fasano Responds to Democrat Lawmakers’ Statements on GE’s Reasons for Moving

January 14, 2016

HartfordSenate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) released the following in response to recent statements made by Democrat lawmakers about GE’s headquarter relocation, including a statement saying: “Those who would seek to paint GE’s departure as an economic referendum should have their motives examined very closely.”

“Ignoring the facts that GE left because of the state’s tax climate is dooming the state to further deficits and failure,” said Fasano. “Those who ignore the facts are entrenched and motivated to give political cover to those who voted for these failed policies. People deserve the truth, because you cannot fix a problem until you’re honest about its existence. Even the governor seems to get it now, as he said yesterday, ‘…businesses care about how states budget, and now is the time to continue our bipartisan efforts to reform our budget, find new ways to pay our pensions, and create a more sustainable and predictable state budget.’

“It is important to distinguish that the reasons why GE left Connecticut differ from the reasons why they selected Massachusetts. They chose to leave Connecticut in the first place because of the two largest tax increases in state history over the last five years, and the resulting instability and lack of predictability within Connecticut’s economy, business environment and long term liabilities. I’m not saying it, GE CEO Jeff Immelt said it in an email to employees in June:

‘Last night, the Connecticut legislature passed a tax package which includes significant and retroactive tax increases for businesses in the state. The passing of this law, despite the concerns we raised, has serious implications for GE, other businesses and for the business climate in Connecticut. Please see attached fact sheet on the current environment. As a result of this law passing, I have assembled an exploratory team to look into the company’s options to relocate corporate HQ to another state with a more pro-business environment. This will be a thoughtful process which will take many factors, especially employee impact, into consideration. As the team makes progress, we will keep you updated.

‘We only consider this after a lot of thought and in the context of our ability to compete. GE is a major employer in the state. We purchase $14 billion in goods and services from Connecticut companies. Despite this, we have had a tough past decade in Connecticut. Our taxes have been raised five times since 2011, while support for our strategies has been uneven. I believe we should pay our fair share and that all of us should give back to our communities. But, we can compare Connecticut with other states where small and large businesses have a better environment to thrive and compete.

‘The new taxes will raise more than $1.9 billion. This will be the second highest tax increase in the state’s history behind only the more than $2 billion tax hike passed in 2011. Throughout the week we conveyed our concerns that these would not improve the competitiveness of small and large businesses in the state. We further reiterated those points in a public statement as the legislature began its budget deliberations.’ – From Jeff Immelt’s June 4 email.

“I met with GE’s CFO last year, and he told me that when you have tax hike after tax hike, followed by deficit after deficit, the system is not working. With Connecticut facing a deficit of over $350 million next year and over $3 billion in the out years, it’s common sense for businesses to be worried that they could end up the next target in tough times. They don’t feel like the state of Connecticut is on their side, and that has to change. That’s why Republicans asked for long-term structural changes to be part of the state’s deficit mitigation package in December – changes Democrats were not willing to make.”