Daniel Zhao, Senior Photographer

After months of advocacy from New Haven politicians, the Connecticut state Senate voted in favor of Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney’s proposal to increase funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program, PILOT, moving New Haven one step closer to receiving a large influx of money from state coffers.

The Senate approved the bill by a margin of 28-7. If the bill becomes law, it will restructure the existing PILOT program to spread funding more equitably across Connecticut municipalities under a three-tiered approach. Under the current program, New Haven receives a 26 percent reimbursement on all of its non-taxable property, like land owned by Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital. In total, over 50 percent of New Haven property is non-taxable, and Looney’s proposal would bring the city’s reimbursement up to 50 percent from the current 26 percent. The proposal would cost the state an estimated $129 million, Looney said in an earlier state hearing on the proposal, and would bring an additional $49 million to New Haven annually.

Earlier this month, Looney, along with Mayor Justin Elicker, members of the Board of Alders and other New Haven residents, testified at a hearing in front of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee in favor of the program. Looney called it a necessity for “struggling communities.”

“The existing state policies seem to punish those that successfully work their way out of poverty by clawing back the progress they have made,” Looney said at the hearing. “The purpose of our public assistance programs is to lift people up and help them carve a path for their financial future.”

Though the PILOT proposal is currently advancing through the state legislative process, Elicker said in a Monday press conference that the route to funding will not be as simple as passing the bill. The mayor said that it is still possible that the state legislature could move against fully funding the proposal during budget discussions in the coming months.

“We hope [the state legislatures] do not, but it is very possible they could reduce the amount of funding that is needed,” Elicker said. “The question for us is: Will the legislature follow through?”

However, Elicker said he was optimistic that the state will do what it needs to do to support New Haven.

Elicker, Looney and other elected officials will hold a press conference on Tuesday to discuss the bill’s passage through the Connecticut state Senate.

Thomas Birmingham | thomas.birmingham@yale.edu