On Pfizer cutbacks, different pols derive different lessons

House Speaker Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, and Senate Minority Leader John P. McKinney, R-Fairfield, drew very different conclusions from Pfizer’s announcement it would cut its Connecticut workforce as part of a broad restructuring of its research unit.

Donovan expressed a wariness about business.

“It is disappointing that Pfizer would eliminate 1,100 Connecticut jobs after receiving tens of millions of dollars in tax credits, exemptions and infrastructure incentives,” Donovan said. “Moving forward, we need to make sure we make investments with corporate partners who will keep and create jobs in Connecticut.”

McKinney expressed a wariness about the state.

“The very fact that one of our state’s largest and strongest employers is laying off over 1,000 employees and moving jobs next door is proof that Connecticut is an unfriendly place to do business,” McKinney said.

McKinney is right about the state’s business climate. As measured by various surveys, it ranks poorly. But he may be missing the mark here.

In conversations with the state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, the company described the cutbacks as driven by internal needs and not as a reaction to the cost of doing business in Groton.

McKinney said that the legislature continues to consider anti-business measures, such a bill that would require companies with more than 50 employees to offer minimal paid time off, which could be used for sickness.

“Recently Governor Malloy announced to all that ‘Connecticut is open for business,’ yet Democratic leaders in Hartford are simultaneously preparing to consider a number of job-killing bills, including paid sick leave and captive audience,” McKinney said.

The Working Families Party, a booster of the paid sick days legislation, noted that the concept hardly is an issue for Pfizer.

“Like many Connecticut businesses, Pfizer’s paid leave policy far exceeds the minimum standard under consideration in the legislature. It’s wrong for Senator McKinney to distort the facts of these unfortunate job losses to fit his political agenda,” said Jon Green, the executive director of the party. “The truth is that ensuring access to paid sick days improves public health and protects hard working families. And that’s good for the economy.”

House Majority Leader J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, said the state needs to focus on “economic development that makes long-term advancements and better use of state assets.”

“By building a state economy around innovation, Connecticut will experience long-term, sustained economic growth and job creation,” he said.