House GOP Leader Klarides Calls for Immediate Halt to First Five Program

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HARTFORD – Following the disclosure that Alexion Pharmaceutical, which received $51 million from the state to relocate from Cheshire to New Haven, is laying off 210 workers, House Republican Leader Themis Klarides today called for a halt to the First Five deals and said the legislature’s Finance Committee members should have some oversight on such agreements.

A bill providing that oversight will be heard on Friday in the committee.

“Alexion is just another example of how the administration is doing deals to benefit companies without any real guarantees of long-term job creation and commitment from the beneficiaries of such lucrative contracts,’’ Klarides said. She also noted that Alexion for the first time ever gave the Democratic Governors Association $25,000 in 2013 after it had received the $51 million package of loans and grants from the state.

The Alexion news followed recent disclosures that another First Five recipient, ESPN, has also begun another round of layoffs.

The proposed legislation would require that the Finance Committee be given authority to weigh in on the portfolio of deals in the First Five program created by Gov. Malloy. Klarides said it appears the state too often is not getting enough guarantees of job creation in exchange for the grants and loans.

“The executive branch, of course, has to have the authority to engage in such transactions and the goal is obviously to keep and attract employers to Connecticut. But the legislative branch should be heard on these matters,’’ Klarides said.

She pointed out that the General Assembly has the authority to approve all state employee union contracts negotiated by the Governor’s office, but the Democratic majority just chooses not to for risk of offending union members.