Category Archives: John McKinney

Senate Approves UTC/Pratt & Whitney Tax Credit Bill

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Donald Williams, Economy, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John Fonfara, John McKinney Date:

HARTFORD – The state Senate gave final legislative approval Thursday to a bipartisan bill to allow Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. to use earned, but unused, tax credits in exchange for $500 million in improvements over the next five years in Connecticut.

The bill passed by 34 to 2 with Democrats touting the deal as a major step forward for the state’s largest private employer. Two Republicans said the deal amounted to “corporate welfare” and a giveaway to a highly profitable, multinational corporation.

The bipartisan bill applies only to large manufacturing companies that have at least 15,000 employees in Connecticut and have $400 million in accumulated research-and-development tax credits. As such, lawmakers say the bill is specifically targeted at United Technologies, even though the company is never mentioned by name in the bill.

The deal calls for Pratt & Whitney to maintain its headquarters in the state for at least 15 years and for Stratford-based Sikorsky to remain for at least five years. In exchange, UTC would be able to use up to a maximum of $400 million in research-and-development tax credits that it has already accumulated.

State Sen. John Fonfara, the co-chairman of the tax-writing finance committee, said the Pratt improvements in East Hartford will be “housing the best and brightest in the world, mostly Ph.D.’s in engineering.”

Fonfara added that Sikorsky Aircraft will be doing “game-changing research on the next generation of helicopters.”

Lawmakers said that 2,500 suppliers, including many machine shops, will benefit as the parent company prospers. More than 700 of those suppliers have dealings of $100,000 or more, lawmakers said. With thousands of employees, UTC’s economic impact works its way all the way down to dry cleaners, grocery stores, and retailers, lawmakers said.

“For me, it is a bet on the future,” Fonfara told his colleagues on the Senate floor. “Not only a bet on the best and brighest engineers” but a bet that Connecticut will benefit, too.

“We want you here, UTC,” Fonfara said on the Senate floor. “We want your family of companies here in the state. Those 600 new engineers that you hire every year, we want them here in this state. … That’s a win-win for Connecticut. Right here in the small state of Connecticut.”

But Sen. Anthony Guglielmo, a Stafford Springs Republican with 22 years at the state Capitol, said the deal was an example of “corporate welfare” and a giveaway to a huge international corporation with major profits. He criticized the “First Five” program of Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for awarding tax breaks to companies in the hopes of keeping jobs in the state. 

“I do have a problem with the concept of picking winners and losers,” Guglielmo said. “It’s better than Starwood [hotels]. It’s better than Jackson Labs. It’s better than ESPN. It’s better than NBC. … But when you cut to the chase, it’s still corporate welfare. … This is a healthy company. They’ve got $6 billion in profits. That’s billion with a B. … If they do not create a single job, they’ll get 90 percent of that $400 million. That’s incredible. It’s a terrific deal for UTC.”

He added, “You’re talking about $400 million. You’re talking about a company with $6 billion in profits. That’s 7 or 8 percent of one year’s profits to build its headquarters. … This is a drop in the bucket for UTC. They could easily do this. … It makes me a little queasy to giving them $400 million to a company that said, “Any place but Connecticut.”

Guglielmo said, “This is not a sustainable course. We can’t keep throwing money at this large company and that large company.” Continue reading

Republicans Offer Alternative Budget That Would Eliminate Rebates, Keno, and EITC

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Ben Barnes, Brendan Sharkey, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Keno, Larry Cafero Date:

With less than three weeks remaining in the legislative session, Republicans offered an alternative budget Thursday that rejects Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s $55 tax rebates and eliminates keno gambling.

The Republican plan would save the state more than $120 million per year by eliminating the state earned income tax credit for the working poor, but that idea was immediately criticized by Democrats.

Republicans said they were offering a gimmick-free alternative to the second year of the two-year budget that restores funding to multiple accounts that include transportation and clean energy.

“This is an honest approach that eliminates the ugly gimmicks and ‘techniques’ that have been employed to balance the budget only on paper,” said House Republican leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk. “Absent the gimmicks, the Democratic budget would be $150 million over the spending cap and out of balance.”

Republicans also blasted the statements by the Malloy administration, citing a University of Connecticut economist, that sending the rebate checks back to residents would stimulate the economy so much that it would create 1,200 new jobs.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” said Senate Republican leader John McKinney of Fairfield. “Show me those jobs that are created. … You can’t make this stuff up. Real people in the real world don’t believe that adding that money [from rebates] creates jobs.”

Cafero asked, “If you got another 55 bucks, that’s all of a sudden going to create 1,200 jobs? What world does that happen in?”

But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, said that the Republican proposal falls short on several points as “a political document that’s heavy on rhetoric” that was produced “after months of grandstanding” against Malloy’s budget.

“Perhaps most troubling, it includes a $120 million tax increase on Connecticut’s working poor by eliminating the EITC, what Ronald Reagan called ‘the best antipoverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress,’ ” Barnes said.

Barnes continued, “It also contains $54.8 million in phantom spending cuts that are not detailed anywhere.  Finally, it does all this and yet their bottom line spending is less than 0.1 percent different from the Governor’s proposed budget. So much for cutting spending.”

The detailed Republican proposal includes more than 400 line items of cuts and additions in a wide variety of state departments, covering environmental protection, corrections, public safety, education, labor, transportation, motor vehicles, criminal justice, public health, and children and families. 

Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, the highest-ranking senator, said, “I didn’t see any bold ideas proposed by the Republicans. … After a big buildup, I think it was a big letdown.” Continue reading

April 15 Tax Day: GOP Focuses On Malloy Tax Increase; Dems Talk About Rowland

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jerry Labriola, John McKinney, John Rowland, Nancy DiNardo, Tom Foley Date:

On April 15 each year, voters and taxpayers are focused on the federal and state deadlines to get their taxes completed.

The Republican and Democratic parties both released statements Tuesday with a tax theme.

“On this Tax Day, we encourage all Connecticut families to thank Governor Dan Malloy and his record-setting tax increase for the $700 more in taxes they owe this year,” said Republican chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. “Today, we’re all receiving a painful reminder of exactly what Dan Malloy meant when he pledged to take a ‘different path.’ Instead of holding the line on taxes and reigning in out-of-control government spending, Governor Malloy increased government spending and passed the largest tax increase in state history at a time when Connecticut families could least afford it.”

Labriola continued, “In hopes of convincing voters to give him a second term, Governor Malloy has been ignoring the facts as he tours the state armed with Malloy Math and made up “facts” about Connecticut’s economy. But Connecticut voters know the truth. The reality is that Dan Malloy’s record-setting tax hikes and irresponsible spending increases have driven us further into debt and given Connecticut the worst economy in the nation.”

In response to Labriola’s comments about Malloy, Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo focused much of her statement on the past policies of former Gov. John G. Rowland, who left office in 2004. 

“The GOP gubernatorial candidates’ tax plans are like fairy tales: fun to read, but not believable,” DiNardo said. “Nearly all of them are saying some variation of the same thing: they’ll cut taxes by more than $1.5 billion. That reminds me of John Rowland, who ran in 1994 on a promise to eliminate the income tax. We all know how that turned out.”

DiNardo continued, “Seems they’re not quite done with John Rowland yet, since all of them are trying to be just like him. Either their ‘proposed’ cuts won’t happen, or if they do, they will attempt to balance the budget by gutting funding for essential programs like education, or by laying off tens of thousands of state employees. There simply aren’t many places in the state budget where you can cut $1.5 billion.”

Foley Slammed for Skipping Debate

by Categorized: 2014 Election, John McKinney, Mark Boughton, Tom Foley Date:

Five of the six Republicans running for governor came to the Mark Twain House for a debate Friday.

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Tom Foley, who is the frontrunner according to several Quinnipiac University polls, chose not to attend the debate. His spokesman said he is focusing his efforts on delegates at this stage in the campaign. He intends to participate in debates after the Republican nominating convention next month.

But several of Foley’s opponents criticized him for skipping Friday’s forum, the first major televised debate of the 2014 gubernatorial campaign.

“It’s unfortunate one candidate opted not to attend today,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton. “I think that the delegates that go to the convention next month, I think the people of Connecticut and the Republicans of Connecticut ought to be able to hear from all of us…that’s how you lead. You lead from the front, you don’t lead by hiding somewhere else in the state of Connecticut.”

After the debate, Boughton reiterated his point:

“Tom Foley should be here. Look, we have a responsibility as candidates to have a conversation with the public in Connecticut and when you duck your responsibility, when you don’t come…it’s not like he’s doing anything else today but hanging around the estate. The reality is, you have a duty to share with the Republican voters and later the general voters, where you stand on the issues of the day.”

State Sen. John McKinney echoed those comments:

“Listen, ambassador Foley should have been here today. There’s no other way to describe it. When you run for office, you have an obligation to tell the people who are going to hire you what your positions are. You need to listen to them and you need to respond to their questions. Not showing up for a debate I think shirks a fundamental responsible and obligation as a candidate for public office.”

 

First Major TV Debate In Governor’s Race Friday; To Be Broadcast Sunday Morning

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Greenwich, Joe Visconti, John McKinney, Mark Boughton, Tom Foley Date:

The first major television debate in the governor’s race was held Friday at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

While Republicans have faced off in various forums across the state, Friday was the first big debate televised statewide. Sponsored by The Hartford Courant and FOX CT, the one-hour debate was taped in front of a live audience in the Twain House auditorium and will be broadcast at 10 a.m. Sunday on FOX CT.

The debate will preempt “The Real Story” and Tom Dudchik’s weekly Capitol Report that combine for the Political Power Hour on Sunday mornings.

The participants were Senate Republican leader John McKinney, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, Avon attorney Martha Dean, Shelton Mayor Mark Lauretti, and former West Hartford town council member Joe Visconti. Greenwich business executive Tom Foley, who is leading among Republicans in the latest Quinnipiac University poll, did not appear. Continue reading

Finance Committee Supports $55 Rebates, Malloy’s Tax Package

by Categorized: 2014 Election, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

HARTFORD – The legislature’s tax-writing finance committee voted Tuesday in favor of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s tax package for the next fiscal year, including refunds to individual taxpayers.

The most prominent piece of the package covers $55 refunds for individuals and $110 for families earning up to $400,000 per year. The total cost of the refunds is $155 million, and the money will be taken from the state’s projected surplus of more than $500 million in the current fiscal year that ends on June 30.

The bill passed by 31 to 19 on a largely party line vote. Rep. Ted Mouwkasher of Groton was the only Democrat to break with his party on the governor’s tax package, and all Republicans voted against it.

The package restores the sales-tax exemption on non-prescription drugs that are sold over the counter, which had been put in place by Malloy and the Democratic-controlled legislature in 2011. The finance committee bill also cuts income taxes by 50 percent on teacher pensions. The total revenue package for the general fund is $17.4 billion.

Malloy hailed the rebate plan and the committee vote, saying, “After all, if Connecticut taxpayers are asked to share in the sacrifice during tough times, they should also share in the state’s continuing economic recovery.”

He added that the bill “benefits municipalities by exempting them from the insurance premium tax on health plans.  It restores the sales tax exemption on non-prescription drugs.  And, it begins a phase in of exempting a portion of teachers’ pensions from the income tax.”

But Senate Republican leader John McKinney, who is running for governor, had a strongly different view of the votes by both the tax-writing and budget-writing committees.

“Unsurprisingly, Democratic leaders on the finance and appropriations committees have rubber-stamped Governor Malloy’s gimmick-filled budget proposal, including his most infamous and disingenuous gimmick, the $55 rebate check,” McKinney said. “Like the governor’s proposal, this budget is unbalanced, fails to adequately pay down state debt, and ignores long-term structural deficiencies in state government. The result is a tax and spending plan Connecticut residents cannot afford today, and one that is projected to sink the state back into a $1 billion deficit by the middle of next year.”

State Rep. Vincent Candelora, one of the top three House Republican leaders, said that some of his constituents have come to him and said that the state should keep the $55 and instead pay down debt.

“I don’t like the $55 rebate that we have included in this package,” Candelora said. “Unless revenues turn around at a significant pace, we are going to be faced with a deficit in the out-years. … This is just a short-term outlook, and we are throwing money into a hole.”

He added, “We have long-term problems in the state of Connecticut.”

But Rep. Patricia Widlitz, a Guilford Democrat who co-chairs the committee, noted that the refunds are tax-free because they are not based on the personal income tax. She said the legislature should send refunds back to taxpayers “when there’s an opportunity to give back.”

Republicans offered an amendment to remove the refunds from the package, but the motion failed by 31 to 18 with five members absent. More than 2 million checks are expected to be mailed out by mid-September at a cost of more than $1.7 million.

“The so-called rebate is the “Three Card Monte” version of Governor Malloy’s phony math: Give me $700 in new taxes forever, and I’ll give you back a one-time payment of $55,” said Chris Cooper, a spokesman for gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley. “In his first year in office, Governor Malloy permanently raised taxes on Connecticut taxpayers by an average of over $700 — per year, per person, every year, into perpetuity — and now he offers an election year $55 refund.”

“Even as stunts go, Governor Malloy’s $55 deal is bad deal for taxpayers. By using these taxpayer dollars to bribe voters instead of paying down the state debt, the taxpayers will wind up paying more in long-term interest than they will ‘receive’ in their rebate checks. And I think most taxpayers know that is true.”

Continue reading

With No Fanfare, GOP Surprised by “Bizarre” Announcement After Bond Commission

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Democrats, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Jerry Labriola, John McKinney, Tom Foley Date:

Without the traditional trappings of being surrounded by family and friends behind the podium, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy abruptly announced Friday that he is running for a second term as governor.

Malloy picked the Legislative Office Building in Hartford for his announcement, which came in response to a reporter\’s question after he had spent more than eight minutes answering questions on the details of the state budget and other issues.

Word started to spread among Capitol reporters that Malloy might be making an announcement Friday morning, but Malloy first covered a series of other issues while talking to reporters. Certain selected reporters had gotten a heads-up with a telephone call to make sure they would be attending the post-bond commission press conference. Others received nothing.

Greenwich Sen. L. Scott Frantz, a member of the Bond Commission who had attended the meeting, said it was a \”bizarre\’\’ way to announce for a second term as governor.

\”I\’m really surprised that he came out after a Bond Commission meeting and announced,\’\’ Frantz said. \”There\’s not a lot of fanfare here. There\’s virtually no on from the public here – no family, no close friends outside of government. … It\’s bizarre.\’\’

On the merits, virtually no one in state government thought that Malloy would not be running.

\”It\’s the worst-kept secret since Gwyneth Paltrow\’s divorce,\’\’ said former state Republican chairman Chris Healy, referring to the well-known actress who recently broke up with her husband, Chris Martin.

Healy and others said the key reason for running now – as cited by Malloy – is Malloy needs to get started on the daunting task of raising $250,000 in maximum amounts of $100 in order to qualify for $6 million in public matching funds. That means getting at least 2,500 individuals to contribute $100 each. If some contribute less than $100, then a candidate needs more than 2,500 people – a very difficult task.

\”He wants to raise the low-dollar money and has probably been told that it will take longer than expected, even for an incumbent governor,\’\’ Healy told Capitol Watch Friday. \”It took him almost a year and a half last time [in the 2010 race for governor], and he wasn\’t sitting as an elected official with a captive audience.\’\’

Regarding Malloy\’s long delay in making an official announcement, Healy said, \”Maybe he\’s tired of the absurdity of denying the question. It\’s probably no more complicated than that.\’\’ Continue reading

Boucher Backs McKinney

by Categorized: John McKinney Date:

State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican who recently dropped out of the race for governor, announced on Friday that she is endorsing Senate Minority Leader John McKinney in the crowded primary race.

\”This is a critical election for Connecticut and for the Republican Party, and I believe John McKinney is the most qualified candidate to put both our state and our Party back on solid ground,\” Boucher said in a statement.

\”The economy is going to be an important issue in this election and no one has been more aggressive at taking the fight directly to Governor Malloy on fiscal issues than John McKinney,\” she said. \”But, education, transportation and women’s issues also need our attention and, on these issues, which are a priority for me and my constituents, Sen. McKinney reflects the views of the vast majority of Connecticut Republicans better than any other candidate.\”

Nonpartisan Office Projects Next Year\’s State Budget Deficit At $69.4 Million

by Categorized: 2014 Election, Beth Bye, General Assembly, Gov. Dannel Malloy, Hartford, John McKinney, Larry Cafero, Tom Foley Date:

Top Republican leaders said Monday that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy\’s budget was unbalanced from the moment he delivered it last month, citing a new report by the legislature\’s nonpartisan fiscal office.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis says the projected deficit for the fiscal year that starts on July 1 is $69.4 million. The latest fiscal report focuses on the next fiscal year that starts July 1, and it does not have an impact on the current year\’s budget.

In the current year, which ends on June 30, the state has a projected surplus of more than $500 million partly because the state reaped huge capital gains from taxpayers due to the skyrocketing advances on Wall Street in 2013 that state officials believe will not be duplicated in 2014.

Senate GOP leader John McKinney of Fairfield and House GOP leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk said that Malloy\’s proposed state budget would have broken the state-mandated spending cap if it included all the items that are now being considered, including additional money for magnet schools and retirees\’ healthcare.

“It is clear now that the governor willfully disregarded what people in his own administration presented to him in their budget requests last October and November, months before he put out his budget,\’\’ Cafero said Monday. “We know now the budget was out of whack the moment he dropped it and exceeded the spending cap.’’

Citing documents from the nonpartisan fiscal office, the Republicans said that Democratic state comptroller Kevin Lembo had sought nearly $52 million on October 12, 2013 for health insurance for state retirees. The reason is that more than 800 employees in the Department of Correction are eligible to retire, but the governor\’s budget anticipates that fewer than 300 employees will retire.

The Republicans also cited a request by the state education department on Nov. 13, 2013 for nearly $34 million in additional funding for magnet schools. The fiscal office now estimates a shortfall of nearly $19 million in the account for magnet schools.

“The governor had a fiduciary responsibility to present the legislature and the people of Connecticut with a balanced budget and he failed to meet that responsibility,\’\’ McKinney said. \”What’s worse is that the omitted expenditures look intentional. How else can [state budget director Ben] Barnes and Governor Malloy explain shortchanging two areas of their budget they said were priorities?\’\’

Malloy\’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, responded, “The governor’s budget proposal is balanced. If it were passed today, we would live within it.”

\”In contrast to previous administrations, Governor Malloy has shown that he can manage to the bottom line. That’s why we’ve held growth to less than 2.8 percent over the course of his term. It’s clear that many in the Republican caucus will say anything to score cheap political points,\’\’ Doba said. \”If they were serious about managing the state’s finances, they would put forward a budget. But we all know they aren’t going to do that.\’\’

Administration officials believe they can manage the budget within the current totals, and they do not consider the projected deficit to be a major issue. A projected deficit of $69 million represents a tiny fraction of an overall budget of about $22.3 billion, including off-budget accounts, that is managed by commissioners, budget officials, and the governor. Continue reading

CT Mourns Passing of Lou Rell, Husband of Former Governor Jodi Rell

by Categorized: Gov. Dannel Malloy, John McKinney, M. Jodi Rell, Nancy DiNardo, Nancy Wyman, Richard Blumenthal Date:

Lawmakers and state officials are mourning the death of Louis R. Rell, the retired airline pilot and husband of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell for more than 45 years. He was 73.

Rell was an unassuming, low-key supporter of his wife who largely stayed out of the public spotlight during her 6 1/2 years as governor. But behind the scenes, Mr. Rell was a sharp student of politics who understood the nuances of the political game in the state of Connecticut.

Rell had surgery in November 2007 to remove a small, cancerous growth on his esophagus.

Rell had been diagnosed with Barrett\’s Disease – a chronic reflux disease characterized by inflammation of the esophagus. After a hospital stay, he returned to his Brookfield home and later started making regular appearances at the governor\’s mansion and other locations as his health was restored.

\”Healthwise, he\’s great,\’\’ the governor told reporters after the surgery more than six years ago. \”He gets tired easily. Like most men, he thinks when you say, \’take it easy, rest,\’ that that doesn\’t apply to him.\’\’

Rell had the same cancer and surgery as former House Speaker James Amann – leading to detailed conversations between the two about the disease and a variety of issues.

State Republican chairman Jerry Labriola, Jr. said, “As a pilot in the U.S. Navy and as Connecticut’s first spouse, Lou’s life was dedicated to the support of others. He served our state and our nation with a silent humility that commanded the admiration of all who met him. His humor and his charm will be greatly missed.\’\’

He added, “Lou Rell\’s service to our state, our nation, and our party will not soon be forgotten.\’\’

Labriola\’s counterpart, state Democratic chairwoman Nancy DiNardo, described Rell as \”a great man who served his state and his country.” Continue reading