Standing outside The Hartford near the Occupy Hartford encampment Tuesday about two dozen people rallied against corporate bailouts and tax credits doled out by federal, state, and local government.
It was the third rally the Working Families Party has hosted over the past few weeks to call attention to how much money government is giving to businesses.
During Tuesday’s rally Cynthia Jennings, a Working Families Party candidate for Hartford City Council, pointed out that in 2008 The Hartford laid off more than 2,000 people. That same year it threatened to leave the city and the council voted 7-2 to give it a $13.6 million tax credit to apply to its property tax liability over seven years, Hartford City Councilor Larry Deutsch said.
“There was that threat. That gun to our heads,” Deutsch said. “The promise was jobs. A few jobs at low wages and we don’t even know where those have gone now.”
“We need to have those jobs back. The Hartford took the money, we want those jobs,” Jennings said. “We do not support corporate welfare where we support the corporations and we pay their relocation costs.”
She said if The Hartford can’t give the money back then at least it should create good paying jobs.
Jon Green, executive director of the Working Families Party, said The Hartford’s CEO Liam McGee was paid over $11 million in 2010. He said taking the average $13,000 per capita income of a Hartford resident his salary alone could help create 900 jobs.
In 2009, The Hartford also received $3.4 billion in TARP bailout money, which has since been repaid with interest.
“You can be sure that they get out of it more than we the taxpayers have put in,” Deutsch said.
The action outside The Hartford Tuesday follows one held last week at PEZ in Orange, and Pfizer in New London.
Pfizer received tax breaks worth an estimated $60 million from the city of New London and the state. It has been held up by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy as a reason the state moved swiftly in creating Bioscience Connecticut and jumped at the opportunity to help Jackson Laboratory. Malloy said Pfizer was an opportunity lost and he doesn’t want something like that to repeat itself.
After meeting its job creation goals tied to the tax incentives Pfizer announced it was closing its drug research headquarters and moving to Cambridge, Mass. The move left the company with fewer workers in Connecticut then when it was first offered the incentives.
Unlike Pfizer and PEZ, The Hartford never received any state tax incentives, according to the Department of Economic and Community Development.
On Wednesday the Working Families Party will host a rally outside of Diageo in Norwalk. It says the brand-name liquor maker received a $40 million tax break on the promise it would create 300 new jobs in Connecticut. While it may have met its obligations under the terms of the contract with the Department of Economic and Community Development, it has 29 fewer employees today than when it got the tax break back in 2004.
The rallies are just a build up to a proposal the Working Families Party will make to the legislature in the next day or two. Green refused to give any details Tuesday.
“It’s about making sure that when we are spending public funding we’re actually creating jobs, and they’re good jobs, and pay decent wages,” Green said. “We have an idea of how to accomplish that better than we’re doing that now.”
In every press release the group has put out over the past few weeks it has noted that “Corporate tax breaks in Connecticut have exploded, from less than $3 million annually in 1987 to over $300 million in 2009, according to a report by Connecticut Voices for Children.”
By mid-afternoon details of the proposed jobs legislation are expected to emerge and public comment will be allowed to be submitted on Thursday after an informational hearing.