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"Better Choices" Rally Stresses Services, Fair Taxes
Marsha Tulloch of Local 269 talks about her job helping unemployed citizens.
Members and supporters of Better Choices for Connecticut gathered at the Capitol on March 25 to oppose cuts in vital services and to show support for increased revenue.
More than a thousand state residents converged on Hartford to urge the Governor and Legislature to stop the cuts, enact fair taxes and help Connecticut overcome the economic crisis.
Marsha Tulloch of Council 4 Local 269 spoke eloquently about the struggles faced by thousands upon thousands of unemployed workers who call in to the state Department of Labor for help.
"Everyday we try to help unemployed workers who have to wait on the phone lines to get through. There aren’t enough of us to keep up with the calls," she said.
"This is no time for government to hide money in a mattress," Tulloch added. "Let’s tell our governor and our legislators, loudly and clearly: Do not kill the services you were elected to protect."
Rally speakers highlighted the many ways in which the fiscal crisis is wreaking havoc on people's lives and how much worse it will be if Connecticut's budget is balanced solely with cuts to life-saving services. Rally emcee, Shawn Lang of the CT AIDS Resource Coalition discussed potentially devastating cuts to human services proposed by both the Governor and the Legislature's Appropriations Committee noting that, "if these cuts go through, more and more Connecticut residents will fall through a safety net already rife with holes."
Lindsey Matthews, whose son lives at a group home for people with developmental disabilities, explained that his care-givers are substitute parents: "The people who help feed, bathe and clothe him every day do it because I can't be there. I can't imagine what life would be like for our family without this critical service and we're just one family out of thousands."
The Better Choices plan includes raising income taxes on the state's wealthiest residents making over $200,000 per year, as well as closing corporate tax loopholes. Governor Jodi Rell has proposed a budget based almost entirely on cuts and while giving lip service to "shared sacrifice" has not even asked the state's wealthiest residents to pay their fair share of taxes. Nobel Prize economists say that reducing public spending in an economic crisis, when services are needed the most, would send the economy into a further downward spiral. Some estimate that Rell's budget could cost the state from 30,000 to 50,000 jobs.
Better Choices' proposal also includes a penny increase in the sales tax, reduced subsidies to the entertainment industry and higher taxes on alcohol and tobacco. The plan also proposes a new small business property tax credit and a state earned income tax credit. These reforms, along with funds expected from the federal economic stimulus plan and the state's rainy day fund will help balance the state's two-year budget without making draconian cuts to crucial public services.
"Connecticut has a revenue problem that needs to be addressed with a revenue solution," said Douglas Hall, Acting Managing Director at Connecticut Voices for Children, who explained the revenue plan. "Finding ways to increase revenues and avoid severe cuts that would harm the economy is the path that is both fiscally and economically responsible."
Along with Tulloch, Hall and Matthews, other speakers included Carmen Cordero of Vecinos Unidos; Rev. David Taylor of United Church of Christ of Glastonbury; Sharon Patterson Stalling, a member of the Hartford Board of Education; and Charles Huntington with United for a Fair Economy.
Better Choices for Connecticut is a community coalition working to help Connecticut make better choices on ways to improve the state's imbalanced revenue system so that it advances opportunity for shared prosperity for all Connecticut residents; preserves services for children, families and the elderly; creates and sustains good jobs; and reinvests in the middle class and our communities. For more information, go to www.betterchoicesforCT.org.
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