Photo courtesy of the House Democrats
Rep. Don Clemons, D-Bridgeport (Photo courtesy of the House Democrats)

As the impact of the cuts in Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposed two-year budget begin to sink in for lawmakers the chairman of the legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus said Friday that the 22-member caucus would rather see tax increases on the wealthy and corporations than deep and painful cuts in services to their constituents.

Tax increases are “the only way we can try and restore some of these cuts the governor has proposed,” Rep. Don Clemons, D-Bridgeport, said in a phone interview Friday. “The thing to do is ask the affluent and wealthy to help with this situation and be part of the solution.”

“People in our districts are being told by the Governor that they must bare the brunt of the present economic crisis,” Clemons said. “Main Street didn’t create this economic debacle, Wall Street did, but the people in our districts are suffering the most because of it.”

Rell’s budget increases the fees for drivers’ licenses, small businesses, and low-income people on the states Medicaid insurance plans. Clemons said it also cuts funding for summer youth employment, enjoyed not only by city kids but kids across the state.

At the same time, the fees and taxes for large corporations and affluent citizens basically remain unchanged, he said.

Some of the cuts the caucus opposes include:

Reduced funding to community health services by $4 Million

Reduced funding to local health departments by $5.4 Million

Reduced funding to school-based health centers by $3 Million Increases premiums for Husky A, Husky B and ConnPACE programs

Eliminates summer Youth Employment by $4.7 Million Eliminates the Urban Youth Violence Grant Eliminates Watch Dog Agencies for health care and DCF

Eliminates key Commissions (African-American, Latino & Puerto Rican, Permanent Status of Women, Aging and Children)

Within the next week or so Clemons said the caucus will unveil their entire agenda for the legislative session. He said the caucus plans on using the bridges they’ve built over the years to get other lawmakers to understand their position.