Continuing responses to questions submitted by OIB readers, State Senate candidates Andres Ayala, Ed Gomes and Ernie Newton, locked in an Aug. 14 Democratic primary, answered the following: What can you do on a legislative level to attract private-sector investment, jobs and build Bridgeport’s tax base?
A. These last five years have been tough on middle-class families. It’s important that we have an economy that supports job growth. I will continue to support fiscally responsible planning to grow our state and local economy while protecting the interests of our community. It is the legislator’s job to create the opportunities for private-sector investment and jobs. As I have in the past, I will work with the Governor’s Economic development efforts, along with the Mayors of both Bridgeport and Stratford, whose job it is to implement the details of economic development.
A. We worked hard to pass a comprehensive Jobs Bill that incorporated many ideas this year … a program like the governor’s “First Five” program in the Jobs bill. It is a good example; this gives state tax breaks to the first five employers who commit to 200 new hires. Bass Pro Shops at Steel Point looks like they will be the a recipient of this break. Training and hiring incentives are a good way to bring good jobs back to Bridgeport and Stratford.
A. We need to create a sustainable urban agenda. There are a few things that we can do right away. The first would be to re-evaluate our Enterprise Zones. When they were established, they were supposed to be a tool in attracting business to our urban centers. That has since been watered down and probably not as effective as we would have hoped. Looking at the purpose of these zones would be beneficial, especially now when Bridgeport has the attention of investors. The second thing we can do is reassess the PILOT process. In Bridgeport we have too deep a reliance on personal property taxes for our residents. We provide a lot of services in the city and are not getting adequately compensated for the entities providing these services that are not on the tax rolls. Without some type of property tax reform, even if we get an abundance of private investment, sooner or later that tax burden will be shifted to the new businesses and companies. It may be a sound investment now, but we have to make sure it’s sustainable for the long run. The last thing I would push would be an incentive or credit for businesses that have weathered the many storms, and kept their businesses in Bridgeport. By fighting and advocating for the business folks that have stuck with Bridgeport, we create an environment for future businesses that we appreciate you being part of our community. These incentives or credits can range from façade improvements, local new hire incentives, and a culture that encourages expansion and growth.