Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and lawmakers resume closed-door budget negotiations Tuesday morning at the governor’s residence in Hartford.
Last week Rell backed off her “no tax increase” promise and proposed raising taxes $391 million as part of her new $36.9 billion budget for the next two years. However, the legislature’s Democratic majority want to see taxes increased $1.8 billion in their $37.8 billion budget.
As they gather Tuesday they will be greeted by the mock billionaires supporting an increased income tax on the state’s wealthiest residents.
Keep reading Katy Nally’s report of last week’s mock billionaire event.
Mock billionaires paraded around the Capitol last week to thank Rell for not raising taxes on state’s wealthiest residents. Adorned in sequin gowns and tuxedos, the faux super rich stepped out of limousines and held up their champagne flutes to toast their beloved governor.
“Time and time again, [Rell] has resisted pandering to the needs of the working and middle class and stood up for billionaires and big corporation,” Iona Lottabotes said.
But it was all a ruse. Lottabotes’ real name is Deborah Noble and she is a member of the Working Families Party. Her fellow “billionaires” were supporters of her party and they were there to stick it to Rell in the most upscale way.
The group sarcastically thanked Rell for the cuts she made in her last executive order to several social services. Instead of raising taxes the governor cut programs such as LifeStar helicopter, Head Start and AIDS services, the billionaires said.
“Every time she has to choose between saving a life, and allowing a life to live, she makes the right choice,” Robert Barron, aka Jon Durham, said. “That’s why I’m here to thank her.”
Noble also touched on the recent Anthem rate hikes. She asked the audience in a snooty voice, “what is the world coming to” when insurance companies must hold public hearings just to increase rates by 30 percent?
The rally was held on the same day Rell issued her second executive order. Earlier in the week the governor said she had exhausted the cuts she could make to state programs and acknowledged that a tax increase might be included in her executive order for August. The governor ended up raising taxes on cigarettes, alcohol and the corporate surcharge.
The billionaires said they were pleased with Rell’s second executive order because none of the changes will affect them.
“I love the way she winks when she says ‘share the sacrifice,’” Barron said.
When she dropped the act, Noble explained the imbalanced system for taxing the rich versus the poor. She said the top 20 percent of the state’s wealthiest residents only pay 5 percent of their income in taxes, while the state’s poorest residents are paying close to 10 percent. Noble said it would be ridiculous to tax only the rich, but that a more balanced system is necessary.
Yet 5 percent of $1 billion is still $50 million. In 2008 nine Connecticut residents were each worth at least $1.3 billion, according to the Forbes 400 richest Americans list. Their savings combined is $27 billion and just 5 percent of that is a staggering $135 million.