Another jarring week for Connecticut in an era full of them. The announcement by innovator Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. that it is moving its headquarters from New Haven to Boston added to the state's woes.
Even more than $50 million in crony capital state assistance could not persuade the drug maker to stay here. That is bad news indeed, confirming what we already know about Connecticut's self-made hostile business environment.
The state's political leadership was worse than helpless, it continued to seem clueless. U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-New Haven, provided the most stunning example, as she sometimes does. The 14-term veteran let loose a fusillade of criticism at Alexion, calling the decision "shocking and shameful."
Somebody might want to let DeLauro know that Alexion is not abandoning New Haven. Its plan is to keep 450 research jobs there. By Connecticut standards, that is a significant presence.
This what Barack Obama would call "a teachable moment" for the far-left wing DeLauro. Stop the war on the businesses that provide jobs and the taxes you love to spend. A hostile business environment is one of the factors that causes companies like General Electric Co., Aetna Inc. and Alexion to leave Connecticut for, remarkably, Boston and New York.
You want Alexion to take those other 450 jobs with them to Boston? Keep up your tirades on investment and innovation. Instead of ranting about Alexion's move to the bioscience center that Boston has become, the multi-millionaire DeLauro could confirm her belief in New Haven's intellectual heft by persuading her husband, pollster Stan Greenberg, to open an office of his lucrative political consulting firm in the heart of her district.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, according to its website, has its "world headquarters" in Washington, D.C. Two other offices are in London and Toronto. What's the matter with New Haven? It has internet service and there will be some Class A office space available next year.
DeLauro was joined in her criticism of Alexion's decision by Martin Looney, leader of the Senate Democrats. He used the opportunity to blame a federal investigation of Alexion and the company's poor investments for forcing the restructuring that has the it breaking camp for Boston. You have to wonder if this is the best way to cement those remaining 450 research jobs in downtown New Haven. Again and again, companies looking for places to move — like Amazon looking to create a second headquarters with 50,000 jobs — always include a stable economy and welcoming business environment high on their list. Leaders like DeLauro and Looney cause businesses to flee Connecticut.
It has been an especially bad week for Looney, who hasn't gotten a balanced state budget passed for years. This year has been especially vexing for the New Haven Democrat. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy unveiled a budget in February and the Senate has dithered for eight months.
The budget saga is unending because the state's finances continue to decline, no matter what the legislature does. Nevertheless, the duty to engage in a serious and public process continues. That has eluded the Democrats more than ever this year. Tuesday, Looney and another Senate Democratic leader, Bob Duff, issued a statement that wandered into incoherence. They ridiculed a no-tax increase Republican proposal that has, in several revised forms, been before the public for months. The Republicans "may have a budget that balances revenues and expenditures, but could it receive a majority of votes in the House and Senate? Would it be signed into law by the governor?" they taunted. They could have found out weeks ago by having legislators come to the Capitol, debate and vote. That's the way it has been done for hundreds of years, usually in a timely manner.
Looney has been in the legislature for almost 37 years and knows this process is not new. What is a dramatic change from tradition is that the members of the legislature abandoned their responsibility to consider proposals. Some budget plans will fail to attract a majority of votes. That has happened before. The income tax, for example, which Looney voted for many times when it was enacted in 1991, was defeated often before it passed and began to hobble the state's economy.
Governors have vetoed plenty of budgets passed by the legislature. You get back to work on something else. What you don't do is nothing for months and then unleash a proposal with little opportunity for the public to read a budget that will accelerate the state's decline.
Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at email@example.com.