- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

STRATFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Wednesday he expects lawmakers will approve a future $220 million agreement committing Sikorsky Aircraft to keeping its headquarters in the state and building a new version of nearly 200 helicopters in it.

The Democrat, appearing with company officials, workers and legislators at Sikorsky’s facilities in Stratford, said legislative leaders understand the consequences of not approving the deal would be “rather dire.”

“Thousands of jobs at this facility and thousands of jobs in the broader supply chain would be lost, and that’s what we were looking down the barrel of a few months ago,” Malloy said.

He predicted state lawmakers will meet in a special session on Sept. 28 to vote on the agreement, which also requires union approval. Both actions need to be taken by Oct. 7.

Under the proposed agreement, Malloy said the state will provide Sikorsky with $220 million in grants and tax exemptions over 14 years in return for the manufacturer building the CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters in Connecticut for the U.S. Navy through at least June 2032. It also requires Sikorsky to greatly increase its spending with local suppliers while growing and retaining full-time employment to approximately 8,000 jobs.

There are about 7,600 Sikorsky employees in the state. However, those figures are expected to drop as work declines on the Black Hawk helicopters.

Sikorsky President Daniel Schulz said the company, purchased in November from United Technologies by Lockheed Martin, had considered building the CH-53K helicopters in other states, acknowledging “Connecticut was not the cheapest state.” Schulz praised Malloy for working with Sikorsky to come up with a package that made the state competitive.

Legislative leaders from both major political parties praised the deal but noted they’ve yet to brief rank-and-file members about the details.

The two Republican minority leaders sent a letter to Malloy on Wednesday, asking that the special session be expanded to include votes on other steps lawmakers can take to stabilize Connecticut’s economy, such as reducing the number of legislative committees and state pension reforms. The regular legislative session is scheduled to open in January.

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