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A teachers union with more than 26,000 teachers, public employees, and health care professionals endorsed New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, the Democratic nominee for governor, and his running mate Mary Messina Glassman Tuesday. AFT-CT President Sharon Palmer said the union membership based its decision on the issues. The first and foremost being health care and coming in a close second was property tax reform. She said DeStefano was the first candidate for governor to come up with a universal health care plan for “all Connecticut’s citizens, not just the ones who can afford it.” She said for the past 12 years under former Gov. John G. Rowland and the current Gov. M. Jodi Rell the number of uninsured and underinsured has grown.
Whereas the Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who DeStefano defeated two weeks ago in the Democratic primary had proposed a universal health care plan that piggybacked the Medicaid system currently in place and criticized DeStefano’s plan because it forces companies to pay employees benefits or lose its state tax breaks, Palmer said the membership liked that the plan would be funded through corporate tax loopholes. She said Rell has failed families in the state by underfunding education, which forces municipalities to pick up the burden through local property taxes and hold “referendum after referendum,” in hopes of passing a local budget that’s undoubtedly going to reduce school spending. Education funding has remained stagnant during in the Rowland-Rell administration, Palmer said. According to a report from CT Voices, funding for primary and secondary education has fallen by more than 10 percent over the past five years when adjusted for inflation. Rell hasn’t substantially addressed either of these important issues, Palmer said. Before the primary DeStefano predicted that before November Rell would unveil a plan to provide some sort of universal health care to the residents of the state, but at this moment it doesn’t exist. Rell’s campaign spokesman Rich Harris has said in the past that Rell addresses health care in a variety of ways, but doesn’t have a universal plan. Of course he also wouldn’t say whether it is something the Rell campaign would or wouldn’t consider in the future. As far as property tax reform, Rell introduced legislation to eliminate property tax on cars, but that idea was more or less dumped as soon as some seniors started complaining. Rell’s plan would have cost the state $497 million a year and some $325 million of that money would have been made up by eliminating the $350 annual property tax credit many people currently receive. The state would also have to divert the state’s share of Indian casino gambling revenue, which currently goes into the general fund, into a special fund to reimburse cities and towns for the lost car-tax revenue.DeStefano’s property tax reform plan includes a new millionaire’s tax, which would he would use to freeze property tax rates for seniors. DeStefano would raise income taxes on millionaires by one percent.