HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — In the wake of Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin commenting on a potential move of insurance giant Aetna from Hartford to New York City, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy held a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the State’s reaction to the proposed move.
Below are Governor Malloy’s remarks, delivered Wednesday May 31st, at 2:25 p.m.
Thank you for coming. I understand that there has been a great deal of discussion over the past 24 hours about Aetna. I’ve invited you here today to share my administration’s perspective on this important topic.
Let me begin by saying this: Aetna is an excellent employer and an important corporate citizen. They have been a core part of our state and specifically of Hartford since 1853. Connecticut should and does greatly value our relationship with this company, and with the thousands of people they employ here.
I deeply and truly believe that the City of Hartford and the greater Hartford region provides a strong foundation for any company in the insurance sector, large or small. From a very deep bench of top insurance talent, to a knowledgeable and well-regarded state insurance department, to incredible school systems and a high quality of life for employees, Connecticut is the insurance capitol of the world for good reason.
And, as insurers are evolving its strategy to focus more on consumer-based products and services, Hartford is evolving too – bringing tech, marketing, and entrepreneurial talent right to its downtown.
Now, in terms of more recent conversations taking place about Aetna’s future, it would be wrong of me to speak for them in terms of where they are in any decision-making process. Those are questions you have to ask them directly. What I can do is speak for my administration’s role as a partner to Aetna and their employees, and share with you some of the efforts we’ve made – and continue to make – in order to ensure they remain a major Connecticut employer.
To begin, we have had many discussions with them over months – and in fact years – about their long-term plans and the prospect of changes, specifically at the executive level.
While we have not been notified by the company of their intention to change their footprint in Connecticut, it is my personal belief that some amount of change is coming, and that it will likely include a change in their headquarter designation, along with some number of executive positions.
I believe the vast majority of the 5,800 jobs in Connecticut will stay here, and that they could continue to choose Connecticut as their regulator. This could be akin to another large Hartford insurer who is not headquartered in Connecticut, but chooses to have a substantial base here and operate as a Connecticut regulated insurer because of the benefits and predictability that choice provides them.
Here’s why I believe these things. My administration has met and spoken with senior Aetna leadership multiple times in recent months. In addition to repeatedly making clear how much the company means to Connecticut, we’ve put formal offers in front of them.
Most significantly, we have offered direct incentives for them to stay, up to and including matching anything put on the table from a competing state in order to keep Aetna’s headquarters and jobs here in Connecticut. We’ve also included specific proposals that would, among other things, strengthen the City of Hartford, bolster our workforce development around Aetna’s needs, improve transportation in the region in which they operate, and make our state an even better and more responsive marketplace for them and other insurers.
To date, while we have continued to have conversations, we have not been taken up on these offers. While I don’t have any indication that they have come to a decision relative to other state or city offers, I believe their lack of a direct response speaks volumes about their intentions, at least when it comes to their headquarters.
It is my own opinion that this has more to do with their desire to have executive leadership operate in a larger, more vibrant urban center than Connecticut can currently offer. We all know that employers – especially large employers – are attracted to city centers. We know that now more than ever, we are in competition across all industries – not just with Massachusetts or New York state, but more specifically with Boston and New York City.
It’s why my budget proposal this year is so focused on not just protecting our cities, but in growing them. In making them into even more dynamic and exciting places to work and to live. In following through on the investments that are now transforming Hartford with 1000 new apartments, university campuses downtown and increasing occupancy of our capitals office space.
And when it comes to the insurance sector, it’s why this session I’ve proposed changes that would reduce their premium tax, and why I’ve proposed legislation to provide for the timely review of new insurance mandates.
Let’s be clear: Hartford is not ever going to be New York or Boston. And that’s fine. Because New York or Boston are not ever going to be Hartford, not when it comes to the history and unique advantages we offer the insurance industry and many other companies that call Hartford home. Not when it comes to the unmatched talent we offer these employers, and not when it comes to our responsive and supportive regulatory environment.
It is still my hope that Aetna makes the decision to keep their headquarters here. But for me, this is now a conversation about the thousands of employees they have in our state. Keeping those employees in Connecticut is far more important than where Aetna plants its corporate flag.
Finally, I will say that I hope any decision by the company – no matter what it is – is made soon. For the sake of their employees and the City of Hartford, we should not prolong this conversation any longer than we need to.
The state’s offers are on the table. Those offers stand. We await a response.