Labor, Allies Call For Pro-Growth, Investment Budget

May 18, 2020—With COVID-19 wreaking economic havoc and threatening vital public services, a diverse group of advocates that includes Council 4 called on elected officials to restore taxes on the wealthy to help mitigate the large deficits facing the state of Connecticut.

Advocates issued their call during a zoom press conference sponsored by Connecticut AFL-CIO. Speakers included Council 4 Secretary Stacie Harries-Byrdsong.

  • Click here to view the entire press conference on CT-N.
  • Click here for Stacie Byrdsong's remarks at the press conference.

“The COVID-19 crisis has caused tremendous economic damage to working families across Connecticut,” said Byrdsong, who is president of AFSCME Local 3194, representing paraprofessionals, lead educators, oral interpreters and child care workers at the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC). “Now is the time for our wealthiest residents to step up and take up a greater share of the tax burden.”

Other speakers included Josh Bivens, Director of Research for the Economic Policy Institute; Emily Byrne, Executive Director of CT Voices for Children; State Representative Anne Hughes (135th District); Rochelle Palache, Assistant District Leader, SEIU 32BJ; Rob Baril, Executive Director, SEIU 1199NE; and Rev. Josh Pawelek, Parish Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Manchester.

  • Click here for media coverage of the press conference.

While Connecticut faces massive budget deficits over the next few years because of the pandemic, elected officials will have a stark choice. They can either cut services, housing, and health care for low- and middle-income families who are suffering record unemployment, or raise taxes on the extremely wealthy who are hoarding more money than ever before.

“We have been really complicit in policy violence in our tax structure and our economic structure,” said Hughes, who co-chairs the House Progressive Caucus. “We’re asking the frontline workers to risk their lives and yet now we’re looking at possibly cutting some of those essential services.”

In January, CT Voices for Children released a report that called for increasing the personal income tax rate on those earning more than $5 million a year from 6.99% to 8.49%.

State AFL-CIO President Sal Luciano pointed out that nationwide, nearly forty percent of working people who earn less than $40,000 lost their jobs in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the combined wealth of America’s billionaires increased by $282 billion, a nearly 10% increase.

“This pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the vast inequalities that have always existed in our state,” Luciano said. “This may be the greatest crisis of our lifetime, and workers are suffering.”

  • Click here to take action and tell your legislators to restore taxes on the wealthy.