OPINION: Despite debt, Connecticut keeps using credit card

OPINION: Despite debt, Connecticut keeps using credit card

Connecticut is broke. Worse than broke. The state budget is $240 million in the red right now, and that number keeps growing. We’re so broke that we’ve actually got Keno, in the erstwhile Land of Steady Habits (“It’s a whole new kind of fun,” the state tells us — “a chance to win every 4 minutes!”) and we want the tribes to build a third casino and the governor wants to bring back highway tolls, jack up the gasoline tax and slap a $3 levy on tires. That’s pretty broke.

And yet, that same governor — who also runs the State Bond Commission — keeps loading us up with more long-term obligations. Here are some of the items the commission charged to our credit card during its latest meeting, on Feb. 16, as reported by the Record-Journal, the Connecticut Mirror, the Republican-American and the Hartford Business Journal:

$10 million to renovate the moribund Dillon Stadium in Hartford in the hope that some soccer team will want to move there. (Good luck with that.)

$5 million to renovate a downtown Hartford parking garage on the chance that that will help resuscitate a nearby albatross, the XL Center. (Maybe the Whalers will come back.)

$460 million for various transportation projects. (Apparently the unnecessary busway and the hugely expensive but questionable Hartford Line rail project were not enough.)

$2.9 million for other projects of the Capital Region Development Authority.

$35.5 million for a forgivable loan to AQR Capital Management, one of the world’s largest hedge fund managers, to help it expand. (Remember the First Five?)

$14 million for ASML US, in Wilton, to expand and add jobs.

$4 million for Morgan Truck Body, in Plainfield, to acquire a new plant and add jobs.

$2.5 million for Okay Industries Inc. to expand in Berlin and New Britain and add 62 jobs. (That comes to $40,323 per job.)

$2 million to Polamer Precision Inc. to expand in New Britain and add jobs.

$1 million to help Viiv Healthcare Company relocate from Wallingford to Branford and add 20 jobs. (That’s $50,000 per job.)

$1 million to help New Opportunities Inc. establish an aquaponics fish farm and hydroponic vegetable farm in Torrington that will provide 18 jobs to ex-convicts. (That’s $55,555 per job.)

$1 million for Global Atlantic Financial Company to relocate from Simsbury to Hartford and create at least 59 jobs. (A relative bargain, this, at $16,949 apiece.)

$525,000 for the town of Waterford to make improvements in the Thames River to enhance submarine operations. (Why isn’t that the Navy’s job?)

$350,000 in start-up funding to help homeowners struggling with crumbling foundations.

There’s plenty more. And while much of this spending is in the form of loans, which may eventually be repaid, this state doesn’t have such a great record of picking winners when it doles out economic development money. For example, Connecticut made a deal with Aer Lingus in September 2016 to lure it to Bradley. But the Irish airline missed its revenue goal, which now makes it eligible to receive a $4.5 million subsidy from the state.

And with that cheery thought in mind, I’ll now do my taxes.

Reach Glenn Richter at grichter@record-journal.com.>res<


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