By SUSAN HAIGH
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut’s House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a deal to grant up to $400 million in tax credits to United Technologies Corp. if UTC makes up to $500 million in upgrades and expansion and hires more workers.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration recently reached the deal with the state’s largest private employer, and House members passed it on a bipartisan 134-4 vote, with four Republicans in opposition.
Legislation endorsing the tentative agreement was billed as a way to ensure the headquarters for the company’s helicopter and aerospace divisions would remain in the state for years to come.
The bill now moves to the Senate for final legislative action.
“Today we’re sending a positive message: that we’re reacting, we’re ensuring that manufacturing, especially skilled manufacturing, has a place here in the state of Connecticut. And we’re going to do whatever necessary to ensure that it stays that way,” said House Majority Leader Joseph Aresimowicz, D-Berlin.
The deal calls for UTC to spend up to $500 million to upgrade and expand facilities at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford, Sikorsky in Stratford and UTC Aerospace in Windsor Locks. The state must offset up to $400 million in sales and income taxes over 14 years. To take full advantage of the tax benefits, the company must hire more engineers and other workers and boost its payroll.
United Technologies also promised to maintain its Pratt & Whitney headquarters for 15 years and its Sikorsky headquarters for at least five years.
Malloy applauded the House vote.
“UTC is the catalyst of this initiative, but the investments called for in this bill go well beyond one company,” Malloy said. “The agreement will have a direct impact on employment in almost every city and town in Connecticut, not just at the UTC companies, but also in the hundreds of aerospace supply chain companies throughout the state and the region.”
There had been no imminent threat that the Hartford conglomerate would pick up and move its subsidiaries. But officials have said they worried about a gradual shedding of jobs as aerospace customers worldwide expect suppliers to be closer and cheaper labor becomes more available in central Europe and Asia.
Rep. Robert Sampson, R-Wolcott, voted against the bill. He said the legislation was a “symptom of a poorly run state economy” and other states with thriving economies, such as South Carolina and Texas, don’t have to make such deals with their employers.
“We are only reducing the tax bill for one company, and I think that’s completely unfair,” he said.
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