Editor's Note: This article was updated at 4:40 p.m.
Oxford officials and local lawmakers expressed disappointment Monday over Gov. Dannel Malloy's veto of a bill that would have created an around the Waterbury-Oxford Airport that was intended to create more jobs in the area.
Malloy vetoed the bill and in a one-and-a-half single-spaced letter stated it is "premature to approve an airport development zone that includes area surrounding Oxford Airport and beyond before the Connecticut Airport Authority has the opportunity to properly analyze and consider the implications of such a zone in the context of its larger mission purpose." He also said state reimbursements for lost tax revenue in Oxford, Middlebury and Southbury, and the creation of the Connecticut Airport Authority bill combined with the size of the development zone led to him vetoing the bill. (See the full text of Malloy's veto attached to this story.)
The bill, which was introduced by the Commerce Committee to spur economic development in the airport area, would not only have fostered new business development but in turn also would have added jobs and generated new state and municipal taxes, according to officials who supported the project. The bill also would have expanded tax incentives for businesses in the area of the airport. Malloy also said the tax breaks were "too premature," and noted the state would reimburse the towns affected up to one half of lost tax revenue.
State Sen. Rob Kane, R-Watertown, whose district covers Oxford, submitted a letter to the media criticizing the governor's action.
"How ironic that just as Governor Malloy has embarked on his 'Jobs Tour' of the state, he is effectively killing future Connecticut jobs with one stroke of his pen," Kane stated in the news release.
Kane stated the creation of an Oxford Airport Development Zone was a bipartisan effort until Malloy, a Democrat, knocked it down Monday.
"With this bill, the governor was presented with a golden opportunity to actually match his jobs talk with action," Kane stated in the release. "He could have enabled Oxford Airport to soar to new heights. Instead, this veto marks a failure on his part - a failure to recognize an avenue for economic growth and a failure to listen to the people of Oxford and surrounding towns."
Oxford Economic Development Director Herman Schuler, who was also instrumental in getting the bill passed before the state House and Senate, also said he was "very, very disappointed."
"I thought this thing was going to go and thought it had tremendous potential for the three towns (Waterbury, Middlebury and Oxford) and the issues mentioned in veto that made me worry that we’re coming to a complete stop while we study things once again," Schuler said. "It was halted not because the airport people weren’t ready or the towns weren’t ready, but because the state once again wants to study things some more."
State Rep. Anthony D'Amelio, R-Waterbury, whose district covers Middlebury, said the towns of Oxford and Middlebury, and the entire region, would have benefited from the legislation.
"I understand the Governor’s concerns but we need to invest wisely if we expect to get our economy going and create jobs," D'Amelio stated in a news release. "This investment would have gone a long way to help the airport and surrounding areas create good-paying, stable jobs.”
State Rep. David K. Labriola, R-Oxford, says this may not be the end of the road for the airport enterprise zone.
"I’m hopeful that next session will see passage of an Oxford Airport enterprise zone within the context and structure of the newly established Connecticut Airport Authority," he said.