One bill is expected to receive widespread bipartisan support, while the other will likely pass along partisan lines.
The first bill is a jobs bill which offers $701 million in state borrowing for a variety of programs, including job creation tax credits, manufacturing assistance, a small business express program, and job training.
Debate on that bill began in the House late Wednesday afternoon after drafting of it was completed.
“This starts the process of making us competitive again,” Rep. Jeff Berger, D-Waterbury, said as he brought out the bill.
The second bill gives $291 million to Jackson Laboratory to build a 173,000 square foot research facility on the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington.
Republican Party Chairman Jerry Labriola said he thinks the bet that the state is taking on Jackson Laboratory is “risky.”
“I think the story is the risky government intervention in the private economy by way of this Jackson Labs bill,” Labriola said. “Bringing Connecticut to the forefront of Bioscience is exciting, but there’s a lot of unanswered questions regarding the cost.”
On the other hand, Labriola said he’s happy to see the administration turn its attention to job creation, “too bad it’s October.”
Democratic Party Chairwoman said it’s never too late to talk about job creation.
“He [Gov. Dannel P. Malloy] has done more in the 10 months he has been in office than the past 20 years of what’s been happening here,“ Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy DiNardo said. “Anytime we have an opportunity to create jobs the governor is there.”
She said what people are going to remember about today is that the governor and the Democrat-controlled General Assembly created jobs.
“The bottom line is jobs and because of the economy everybody is going to remember that,” DiNardo said as she made her way to the Senate chamber where the bill was being debated.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, said the difference between the bipartisan jobs bill and the Jackson Laboratory bill is that everyone was at the table for the jobs bill, but only the administration and Jackson Labs were at the bill negotiating that deal.
Cafero said some of his caucus may vote for the Jackson Labs bill and he knows many in his caucus that want to vote for it, but they can’t because they don’t have enough information about the deal.
Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, said he doesn’t know of any member of his caucus who plans on voting for the deal.
He said Sen. Leonard Fasano requested a redacted copy of the deal the state made with the nonprofit genomic laboratory and was told he couldn’t have one. He said the Republicans don’t want to know anything proprietary, they just want to know how the deal is structured.
For weeks, the Malloy administration has been saying the state’s investment is $291 million and Jackson Laboratory’s commitment is $809 million. However, drill deeper on the $809 million and that’s the money the lab expects to bring in over the next 20 years. How that money will be invested back in the facility or its employees is unknown.
But advocates of the deal say it will improve the bioscience industry in the state and boost the economy.
“It will be an important complement to the existing cluster, adding all important critical mass,” Paul R. Pescatello, president and CEO of Connecticut United for Research Excellence, said in a letter to the Department of Economic and community Development Commissioner. “It will bring UConn to a another (and higher) level of academic achievement, be a critical resource to our biopharma companies and help knit Storrs, Farmington and Yale/New Haven—our nascent “research triangle” –together,”