HARTFORD, CT — One of Connecticut’s state employee unions is doing everything it can to get lawmakers to consider more revenue as the state races toward the end of the fiscal year without a budget.
In its latest television ad, SEIU 1199, uses stock footage of millionaires like Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban talking about how they believe they should be paying more in taxes.
Buffet starts the ad by saying, “People at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.” Cuban goes on to state, “There should not be a differentiation between capital gains and regular income.”
Previous ads have featured Connecticut state employees, some who have been laid off over the past year as a result of the budget decisions the state has made.
“Over the last several years we have asked state agencies to do more with less,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in May when he released the revisions to his budget. “They have delivered on that task and they will continue to realize efficiencies, but we must acknowledge that the state agencies will need to start doing less with less.”
But the unions don’t believe that’s the only option.
“Some of our country’s most successful businessmen are featured in the ad advocating for increased taxes on the wealthy and higher capital gains tax,” SEIU 1199 spokesperson Jennifer Schneider said. “Obviously these billionaires understand business and have valuable advice. Legislators need to follow their advice here in Connecticut and pursue these proposals that could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for our state as it struggles to address a billion dollar deficit.”
The union declined to say how much they intended to spend on the ad buy.
A press release accompanying the ad points out that Connecticut has 17 billionaires and that the top 1 percent of the population of Fairfield County earn more than $6 million a year, ranking Fairfield County as the third wealthiest among the nation’s more than 3,000 counties.
However, legislative leaders and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have avoided large income tax or corporation tax increases since 2016. That’s the year General Electric announced it was moving its headquarters from Fairfield to Boston. Earlier this year, Aetna, which has been located in Hartford for more than 160 years, also announced its desire to relocate its headquarters.
Some lawmakers say the last 2015 income tax increase didn’t net the state the anticipated amount of revenue because so many people have fled the state.
But there’s still a difference of opinion when it comes to the question about whether higher taxes are actually driving the migration patterns.
Union leaders and progressive groups, who have also been lobbying lawmakers to increase revenues, still don’t believe that’s true.
They point to a May 2017 study by the Connecticut Data Collaborative, which used Department of Revenue Services and Internal Revenue Service data.
The study found that DRS data shows the lower-income tend to out-migrate from Connecticut at greater rates than the high-income. It also found the highest income category of filer making $5 million or more grew by 27.9 percent between 2010 and 2015. Those making between $1 million and $5 million per year grew 26.3 percent between 2010 and 2015. And those at the middle end of the income scale between $50,000 and $100,000 saw no growth. According to the study they lost 0.2 percent of their income between 2010 and 2015.
The study concluded that the largest number of residents moving are those who make less than $50,000 a year.
However, since 2007 there has been an increase of filers out-migrating from Connecticut across all income groups, most noticeably those earning between $50,000-$100,000 and those earning $5,000,000 and above. In addition, since 2007 there has been an increase in in-migration rates for those earning between $50,000-$200,000 but a decline in those earning $5,000,000 and above, according to the study.