NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MR. LOVE: I'd like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak before you today. I'd like to speak briefly on the role of one Indian gaming operation and holding the line on taxes.
The peace dividend for Southeastern Connecticut in the early 1990's was an alarmingly stagnant economy. With its heavy dependence of defense spending, the end of the Cold War was bad news for the economy of Southeastern Connecticut. By the first quarter of 1992, the region of Southeastern Connecticut was faced with an extremely dire economic forecast as the region reeled from the effects of rising unemployment. And forecasters began to predict that the region could face a population decline resulting from an ongoing labor out-migration.
Electric Boat in Groton had strategic plans to cut its work force to 7,500 from 15,000 or more by the end of 1997. The Groton Naval Submarine base was on the defense base closure list and the long established New England Savings Bank was headed for bankruptcy. Commissioned regional economic forecasters as late as may of 1993, were spinning tales of 25 percent unemployment, 32,000 jobs lost and 40,000 people out-migrating from New London County, under a worst case scenario, by 1998. Even the best case scenario of the forecasters had the region losing 20,000 jobs by the end of 1997.
What these forecasters failed to anticipate was Yankee and Indian ingenuity. During February of 1992, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe opened the Foxwoods Resort Casino. Since that date, the tribe has become the largest employer in Southeastern Connecticut and employment for the tribe and its Foxwoods Casino has become the fastest growing employment sector within the entire economy of the State of Connecticut. Currently the tribe's work force is fast approaching the total of 13,500 employees.
A recent edition, in May of 1997, of the Connecticut Economic Digest, which is published jointly by the Connecticut Departments of Labor and Economic Development, has revealed the impact attributable to the efforts of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, in a recent article, "Southeastern Connecticut Economic Secrets Revealed". This article has highlighted the role of the tribe's gaming enterprise in the region's economic recovery. Were it not for the tribe's major role in the region's recovery, it seems likely that the federal government would have found itself being called upon to help in rebuilding an otherwise morbid economy in Southeastern Connecticut.
It is possible to translate this in a general fashion into a dollar impact on the Ledyard taxpayer's checkbook, which is where I live. For without the tribe's various economic developments, the out-migration predicted by the Connecticut Department of Economic Development would have become a reality.
In conclusion, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe deserves a hardy statement of gratitude from all Ledyard taxpayers for the tribe's successful efforts in keeping our taxes down.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you. I understand our next three presenters are not here and Mr. O'Brien came a little late and missed it, so our final speaker tonight will be Mr. William O'Brien.