The Connecticut State Bond Commission approved $22 million in grants and loans Friday for the world’s largest hedge fund — despite bipartisan complaints that the wealthy company doesn’t need help at a time when state employees are being laid off.
The commission voted 7 -2 to award the package to Bridgewater Associates, a giant in the financial industry that is operated by Greenwich billionaire Ray Dalio, one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals.
State comptroller Kevin Lembo, a Democrat, and Rep. Christopher Davis, a Republican, voted against the deal — saying it was too lucrative for a wealthy company.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy strongly defended the deal in a series of back-and-forth questions and answers with Davis during the commission’s meeting at the state Capitol complex. Malloy noted that Bridgewater had been searching for a possible new headquarters in Westchester County, N.Y. and could have left the state in the same way as General Electric Co. is moving to Boston this summer from its 68-acre headquarters campus in Fairfield.
Under the agreement, Bridgewater would receive a $17 million loan at 1 percent that would be forgiven if the company creates 750 new jobs, as well as retaining the 1,402 positions it currently has in the state. The money will be used to renovate and expand the firm’s Westport headquarters, along with operations in Wilton and Norwalk. If the company meets the job requirements, then the $17 million loan will turn into a grant.
“The job number is very significant,” Malloy said during the meeting.
Saying that Connecticut is battling against other states, Malloy said, “I doubt that GE would have moved 200 jobs from Connecticut to Massachusetts unless they were paid $162 million.”
When asked later by a television reporter if it makes sense to be providing money to the world’s largest hedge fund at a time when Connecticut is eliminating 2,500 jobs and laying off state employees, Malloy said, “It would be wonderful to have your cake and eat it, too. It would be wonderful if states didn’t compete. … The other thing is we’ve got to grow jobs. … Unfortunately, to grow the economy, you have to recognize that you’re in a competition to do that.”