WETHERSFIELD, CT—Good jobs, universal access to public education, and ethnic, racial and gender justice are just a few of the things a handful of advocates were asking Sen. Paul Doyle to support Wednesday.
The group lead by Rev. Jan Carlsson-Bull had intended to go to Doyle’s home and present him with a large Valentine there, but two Wethersfield Police officers showed up at a Dunkin’ Donuts on the Silas Deane Highway where the group was gathering to tell them it was too dangerous and there was no sidewalk or parking.
Instead, Doyle came to the Dunkin’ Donuts to hear what they had to say.
“We’re nervous about the conservative nature of his fiscal policy so we wanted to let him know we’re willing to pay higher taxes,” Carlsson-Bull said. “We need to put our treasure where our heart is.”
Doyle, who is one of three Democratic Senators in the Senate who tend to be more fiscally conservative, said given the deep budget deficit the state is facing next year he can’t commit to anything.
“I take everyone’s thoughts in and comments and then bill by bill I figure it out,” Doyle said. “I don’t make blanket promises about anything.”
Doyle was one of 35 Senators the Coalition for Democracy, Unity, and Equality or D.U.E. Justice was visiting Wednesday. One Senate seat is currently vacant.
Like Doyle, when many of the Senators caught wind that small groups of constituents would be gathering outside their homes and they quickly set up meetings to avoid a confrontation or invasion of their personal space.
“I don’t think it’s a great idea that they’re going to homes of all legislators,” Doyle said. “That’s kind of our sanctuary from our lives.”
He said he doesn’t mind meeting with people, but it’s a different story when you’re impacting the lives of families.
The coalition, which says it includes over 60 organizations, representing over 300,000 members is getting an earlier start on trying to influence lawmakers this year.
Last year, the group sought to get lawmakers to consider increasing taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations, instead of simply cutting about $850 million from the state budget and laying off what ended up being more than 1,600 state employees.
They were unsuccessful.
Their agenda this year is no different.
They would prefer tax increases over public employee layoffs and they want to eliminate tax loopholes for hedge funds, implement paid family and medical leave and advance a $15 an hour minimum wage.
So far, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has thrown cold water on most of their agenda, except for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
Malloy’s budget seeks $700 million in concessions from state employee unions next year. If he doesn’t get it, his administration says he would need to layoff 4,200 state employees. And if you think he’s bluffing, page 23 of the budget document spells out how many employees would be laid off from each state agency.
Malloy’s budget also seeks to increase revenues by $205 million next year, but about half of the revenue is from eliminating the property tax credit for middle-income homeowners making less than $100,000 a year.
The legislature’s two budget writing committees have until the end of April to present their own budget and figure out how to a close a two-year, $3.6 billion deficit.