Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie

HARTFORD, CT — It’s been almost a week since the two-year, $40.7 billion Republican budget passed with the help of eight Democratic legislators, but it didn’t take opponents long to rally 200 people against it.

Thursday on the north steps of the state Capitol, legislators and members of various labor unions called the Republican budget “reckless and unbalanced.”

However, “more than that it is outright cruel,” the Rev. AJ Johnson of Hartford said. “This budget targets all the working people of our state through increased property taxes, higher car taxes, and we see here unaffordable college.”

He said it targets the working poor by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is a credit that helps working families who don’t pay income taxes, but often pay more in regressive levies such as the sales tax. The Republican budget would take away about $75 million in 2018 and $77.8 million in 2019 from the credit that goes to about 200,000 low-income families. The Democratic budget would have cut the same program by $25 million in 2018 and $26 million in 2016.

Johnson said the budget doesn’t ask Connecticut’s wealthier residents to pay more.

The Democratic budget, which was raised as an amendment but never passed, also didn’t include an increase in the income tax. It did include a last-minute tax on property owners who own second homes, but Democratic legislative leaders denied that was an attempt to win over progressive members of their caucus.

But the Democratic budget proposal wasn’t the subject of Thursday’s rally, which was organized by the Working Families Party.

Johnson talked about how the Republican budget is out of balance by 2020 by $1.24 billion, but he didn’t mention that the Democratic budget is also $1.4 billion out of balance by 2020, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

“It sets us up to have the same conversation every two years,” Johnson said.

He said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again.

Juan Hernandez, district director of 32BJ, said there are eight Democratic lawmakers who betrayed working class values by voting for the Republican budget.

“Today we’re calling on those eight … to come back to their roots,” Hernandez said. “Their family is probably ashamed of them.”

He said “we’re not going to forget if they don’t come back home.”

Newly-elected Hartford Rep. Joshua Hall said friends don’t nearly “double your property and car taxes. Friends don’t defund the mandates for our cities and our schools. Friends don’t, on one hand, say we need to attract more businesses to our state and then say to our flagship university that we’re going to snatch $300 million and make sure no one has the ability to afford to go there.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Rev. AJ Johnson (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

The crowd chanted “veto, veto, veto,” over and over again at several points during the rally.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has been running the state by executive order since July 1, has vowed several times in the last few days to veto the budget as soon as it reaches his desk. It’s still winding its way through various offices.

Rep. Ed Vargas, D-Hartford, said they were rallying Thursday to make sure Malloy honors his commitment and vetoes the budget.

He said there’s a phony narrative that companies such as General Electric and Aetna left Connecticut because of high taxes and salaries.

“That’s a false narrative. They didn’t go to a low-wage, low-tax Mississippi or Alabama,” Vargas said. “They went to Manhattan and Boston where the taxes are higher, the salaries are higher.”

He said the young employees at these companies prefer to live in vibrant cities that offer culture, sports, and entertainment.

“We’re going to gut UConn? That’s how we’re going to position ourselves for the future?” Vargas said.

The Republican budget also didn’t include any additional funds for Hartford, which could force the city to have to file for bankruptcy.

Republican legislative leaders continue to defend their budget and encourage Malloy to sign it.

Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the budget was “bipartisan” and it passed both chambers so the governor should sign it.

“This is the only budget in play,” he said.

As for the rally, Fasano said it’s ironic that labor unions are protesting the budget because it’s the $1.57 billion labor package that made forced them to make the decisions they made.

“It’s ironic to see state employee union leaders organizing a protest on budget cuts that are a direct result of their labor deal, which has sucked our budget dry,” Fasano said. “Our current financial decisions have been made all the more difficult because our options were dramatically limited by the SEBAC deal and the governor made it clear he would not support a budget with massive tax increases.”

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said there are three options on the table at the moment.

The governor can sign the Republican budget, allow the executive order where 85 communities will lose their Education Cost Sharing grant to go into effect, or legislative leaders can get back into a room and work toward a different solution.

The later has not happened since the Republican budget passed the House at 3:13 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 16.

Fasano and Klarides are scheduled to meet with Malloy Friday.

On Thursday, Malloy was continuing his opposition to parts of the Republican budget in East Hartford at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.

He said he would continue to outline the reasons he will be vetoing the budget until it reaches his desk, which could be sometime next week.

Rally cry of labor and WFP

Posted by on Thursday, September 21, 2017