It would seem logical to blame United Technologies Pratt & Whitney jet engine division for hurting Connecticut with its decision this week to close repair operations in Cheshire and East Hartford and move 1,000 jobs to Georgia and Asia. The workers’ union and the state allege that Pratt had made up its mind some time ago and did not give serious consideration to their efforts to help the company drive down costs and keep the jobs here.
They probably have a point. However, given the tax-and-spend mentality of many of Connecticut’s leaders, and their unwise tax increases enacted to balance a bloated budget, the numbers may never have worked out for the company. Our General Assembly just doesn’t get it that Connecticut is competing with the rest of the country and the world for its economic survival … and we’re losing the battle.
I was struck this week by the news budget at one of our papers, which noted that the town of Ridgefield had received a $200,000 state grant for a ballfield project, but had not asked for the money and was confused by the grant. The story reported that the state had just been mistaken in its press release, and that Ridgefield had requested the money for improvements at another athletic facility.
The story also listed the following grants to other Danbury-area towns:
Small Town Economic Assistance Program grants Bethel: $200,000 for road repairs. New Fairfield: $250,000 for an emergency communications system. New Milford: $200,000 for road construction; $50,000 for a facade improvement program downtown. Newtown: $100,000 for a new animal control facility. Ridgefield: $200,000 for site improvements at Venus Municipal Center. Southbury: $200,000 for the Ballantine Park pool house. Sherman: $200,000 for the renovation of a historic barn that will be used in conjunction with the renovated Sherman Library.
While I can buy the necessity of road repair or an emergency communications system, I’m having a hard time with sprucing up a Southbury pool house, renovating a barn in Sherman and improving downtown facades in New Milford in the middle of a recession and a state budget crisis of unprecedented proportions.
Instead of tightening its belt as its citizens are doing, the state is acting as if the fat times continue and spending its taxpayers’ money on unneeded frills. Meanwhile, lawmakers have raised virtually every fee the state imposes and stuck corporations like UTC with a 10 percent surcharge on their taxes for the next couple of years.
So the state is taking money from you and me and UTC and spending it on pool houses and facade improvements even as its citizens lose their jobs to workers in other, cheaper locations.
The message is that Pratt is protecting its shareholders, while Connecticut casts its workers to the winds.