Legislator: Tax hikes in CT may drive Sikorsky to another state

State Sen. Kevin Kelly, whose district includes all of Shelton, said he is concerned Sikorsky Aircraft could move helicopter manufacturing operations to a lower-cost state.

“What I fear is the company may decide to take operations to a state like Florida, where the tax structure is more favorable to jobs,” Kelly said.

Kelly said this could start a downward spiral in the local economy. “Once a large employer like Sikorsky leaves, real estate drops, restaurants shutter, gas stations lose business, and the local municipality loses its largest taxpayer,” he said.

United Technologies Corp., the parent of Stratford-based Sikorsky, has indicated it is moving toward selling or spinning off the helicopter company. Many hundreds of Shelton residents work for Sikorsky, which also has a few facilities in Shelton.

Keep the jobs here

“It is clear parent company United Technologies will decide by the end of next month whether to sell Sikorsky or to spin off the helicopter maker into a stand-alone company,” said Kelly, a Republican in his third term.

“What I want to see is that jobs remain here in Connecticut no matter what is decided,” he said. “During the last four years there have been several rounds of layoffs at Sikorsky — the most recent 180 jobs lost after a facility in Bridgeport was consolidated because of low demand for helicopters.”

Kelly noted that Sikorsky has more than 15,000 employees. Most are in Connecticut at the Stratford plant, but others are in Pennsylvania, Florida and other states, in addition to having suppliers all over globe.

Many Sheltonites work at Sikorsky

Sikorsky is the region’s largest employer, with about 8,000 workers in Connecticut. About 6,200 of them work at the sprawling plant on Route 110 in northern Stratford, bordering Shelton. The company also has a few other smaller facilities in Shelton.

According to figures released by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office last year, UTC has more employees from Shelton than from any other town in this area — including Stratford. About 800 Shelton residents work for UTC.

Impact of new tax hikes

“It is our sincere hope the legislature will reconsider the recently passed state budget — which no Republicans supported,” Kelly said. “The new tax increases on jobs amount to more than $700 million.

“These tax hikes only set the table for more instability for jobs,” he said, “and more hardship on workers and small mom-and-pop shops surrounding manufacturers like Sikorsky.”

Kelly thinks the tax increases included in the new state budget — supported by legislative Democrats — could drive companies such as Sikorsky to move or expand operations outside Connecticut.

“The tax hikes if left in the state budget will only create a domino effect ... I urge the governor to veto the budget and help us save jobs before it is too late,” he said.

U.S. Sen. Murphy also worried about Sikorsky jobs; click below: