"For too long, we have heard people talk down Connecticut,'' Williams said. "We are number one in the nation in terms of per capita income. ... We're 8th in the nation in terms of patents.''Lawrence Cook, a press aide for state Senate Democrats, questioned Republicans’ opposition to the Jackson bill – saying that the bill contained guarantees of job creation along with financial penalties if the company doesn’t deliver. Cook called it “a dichotomy” and “an irony” that the Republicans opposed the Jackson bill with its job-creation guarantees, while they favored the much-more-expensive jobs bill that did not carry any such guarantees of increased employment.
Separately, the House of Representatives voted at about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on a bipartisan jobs bill that is designed to spend $516 million in borrowed money to help small businesses and create jobs. The vote was 147 to 1 with the only "no'' vote from Rep. Christopher Coutu, a conservative Republican from Norwich who is running for Congress in the 2nd District against Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney.
The Hartford Courant's Jon Lender reports that the original $516-million price tag on the jobs bill grew to $701 million Wednesday with a new report by the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis – which considered initiatives associated the bill when extended several years beyond the administration’s original two-year estimate. Paying that $701 million over 20 years through bonding, will cost a total of $1.07 billion including interest, the report said.
In the House on Wednesday night, lawmakers debated the Jackson bill for hours - not long after the measure was approved by the Senate.
"You don't have to be a lawyer to know what we are doing tonight is malpractice,'' said Rep. Richard Smith, a New Fairfield attorney.
Rep. Dan Carter, a Bethel Republican, said he had no regrets voting against the bill because it was "a pipe dream'' that is highly risky for the state.
"It's a bad investment,'' Carter said shortly before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. "There's just no way to support a bill like this. ... Three hundred jobs is not worth $300 million, I'm sorry. ... I would be better off at the casino.''
But Rep. Jack Thompson, a veteran Democrat from Manchester, said, "If it's taking a risk, don't worry. We will succeed.''
Coutu said his background in finance tells him that the risks are quite high for the state. He compared the Jackson deal to the federal deal for Solyndra, the highly controversial company in an "exciting,'' cutting-edge industry that collapsed after receiving federal money.
"This is a risky proposition,'' Coutu said of Jackson. "It would be exciting to buy an 80-inch TV, but we don't buy an 80-inch TV because it's exciting.''
House GOP leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk fired off a series of questions about the deal. He compared the situation to 2007 when Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch were powerful Wall Street firms. By mid-September 2008, those firms were in huge trouble and Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy.
"Guess what, folks? Stuff happens,'' Cafero said on the House floor.
"We could be pessimists and pick this to pieces,'' Rep. Patricia Widlitz, the co-chairwoman of the tax-writing finance committee, said during Cafero's early questioning. "I feel confident this is a risk very well worth taking.''
Widlitz said later that there are 400 different types of lung cancer, and patients could be treated on a personal level that is targeted at their specific need.
"I think it's off-the-wall exciting,'' Widlitz said.
Cafero at one point told the tale of meeting Jackson's newly hired CEO, Dr. Ed Liu, a geneticist who called Cafero at one point from his home in Singapore.
"I said, Dr. Liu, why do you want to be in Connecticut?'' Cafero asked. "How come you're not in Florida? ... I believed him. I believed him to this day that he wanted to be here.''
In the phone conversation to Singapore, Cafero said that Liu told him that he would work on the idea to give more flexibility for the state to have title to the building so that Republicans like Cafero would feel more comfortable with the deal. But 24 hours later, that was over and Cafero was told that the terms were non-negotiable.
Like Frantz, Cafero said the state just negotiated a far better deal with NBC Sports, which has pledged to bring 450 additional jobs to the south end of Stamford at the former Clairol hair coloring factory south of Interstate 95.
"When you juxtapose this with that, you say, 'I don't get it,' '' Cafero said. "We don't know what the hell we're voting on. That's what's scary. ... I want them here with all my heart. But you've got to work with us. Folks, stuff happens. Stuff happens.''
In his wrap-up remarks at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey said, "Great minds bring other great minds together. That is what this Jackson Labs deal signifies. ... Let's admit it. We've been burnt before in other programs, other deals. That is why there is a desire to insure - on both sides of the aisle, in good faith - that all of us will have some assurance that our financial investment is going to reap some rewards.''
He added, "We have to take a leap of faith. Six years ago, this chamber invested in stem-cell research. ... It was a seed that we planted six years ago. Earlier this year, this body and the Senate approved a bond package for BioScience Connecticut ... for exactly this type of research. Those were seeds that we planted. Those seeds we planted are exactly the reason why Jackson Labs chose Connecticut. ... This is the fruit that comes from those investments. Ladies and gentlemen, we need to harvest that fruit. ... Right now, this is the moment.''