One key question in the Jackson Laboratory deal has finally been answered.
CTMirror’s Keith Phaneuf has a very enlightening story today titled: Jackson lab debate pits costs against jobs.
Although Republicans have mostly agreed to the elements of Malloy’s “Job’s Initiative” that will be voted on in tomorrow’s special session, Democrats, who will be voting to give Jackson Laboratory $291 million in state subsidies, continue to accuse the Republicans and others who raise questions about this $1.1 Billion bioscience initiative as being anti-jobs.
Governor Malloy has consistently said the project is a winner and, as his chief advisor recently put it “this is the best thing to happen to Connecticut in a long time.”
As proof Governor Malloy has said that “for every $1 the state is spending on the project, Jackson Laboratory will spend $3”
The Malloy administrations pitch has been that for only $291 million Jackson Labs will spend $809 million and Connecticut will reap the benefits of 300 Jackson Lab jobs in the next ten years, 660 Jackson Lab jobs in the next twenty, “more than 4,600 bioscience jobs”, 2,000 additional local service and retail jobs and 840 temporary construction jobs. That equates to over 7,400 jobs.
(On a side note, the state of Connecticut will have to borrow the $291 million to actually come up with the money so the total cost to taxpayers, after paying back the money with interest will really be about $410 million. As the CTMirror reports, Connecticut’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development explained “We’ve never included the debt service” in describing state’s contribution to the project)
Regardless, the Malloy administration argues that partnering with Jackson Laboratories will create over 7,400 jobs and the Commissioner says even that number is conservative.
Speaking for the Democrats and in defense of the project, State Senator Gary LeBeau told the CTMirror that the Republicans are being short-sighted by simply looking at the amount of public versus private investment.
As Senator LeBeau puts it – “It’s like we’re planting a tree in the woods and they’re asking ‘How much can I sell the lumber for if I chop it down in 20 years? What they should be asking is ‘How many seeds will that first tree produce and will we be looking at a grove in 20 years?’”
An impressive analogy if I’ve ever heard one.
But truth be told every person I’ve talked to (including Republicans) believe that Connecticut should build a strong presence in bio-science. The fundamental questions have been the same since the day Malloy announced the Jackson Laboratory Deal.
(1) Is Jackson Laboratory the right partner and (2) is this the right deal for Connecticut?
Jackson Laboratory is definitely a “player in the genome field” but there are a number of other players as well.
As I wrote in my CTNewsjunkie commentary piece (Genomes: The New Plastics), the Malloy administration has said that Jackson Laboratory’s $809 million investment will come from a “combination of federal grants, philanthropy and service income”.
As of now Jackson Laboratory’s primary revenue is from the sale of mice. In fact, the sale of mice made up about two-thirds of its FY2010 revenues of $192 million.
Their revenue from selling mice was up about 17% in just the last year while their government grant support actually fell. The same pattern was true from 2008 to 2009 as well. Mice sales up, grant support down.
On the philanthropy side, Jackson Laboratory collected about $3.7 million in private donations in 2009.
And now, the day before the vote will take place, we learn that Jackson Laboratory’s $809 million investment is really their expected operating costs over the next 20 years.
Have our elected officials done their due diligence on this project?
Perhaps the best explanation is that in a world in which taxpayers pay tens of millions of dollars to companies like Cigna, ESPN, TicketNetwork, RBS and now NBC Sports to come or stay in Connecticut, this $440 million is the cost of buying the ticket that could win us that big Lotto Jackpot we want and need so much.