Gov. Malloy’s reference to “state employee concessions” during his State of the State address may give some the impression that the governor expects a small minority of the population to resolve Connecticut’s fiscal challenges. The reality is that the scope of the problems facing us all requires a broader, far more comprehensive approach.
As always, our union is willing to work with state elected leaders to find a way forward in a difficult economic environment. Our members do important work and are an economic asset.
But we are not willing to be scapegoats or political cover for legislators unwilling to make better choices. We are not willing to abandon our defense of public services — and the women and men who provide them — that make Connecticut a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Members of the unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) are already providing over $1 billion dollars annually in ongoing budget savings. Over the past eight years they have ratified two separate agreements to sacrifice wages and benefits in exchange for protecting the vital services they provide for residents.
If millionaires and billionaires contributed a percentage of their income in taxes equivalent to that which working families already pay, lawmakers would have a $1 billion surplus at their disposal. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Connecticut’s state and local tax system is the 26th most regressive in the nation.
That simple fact alone is reason enough to demand real tax fairness — and for an adequately-funded state government that is able to provide the services that everyday people need.
While union members have time and again been willing to do their part, Connecticut’s budget issues cannot be resolved on the backs of middle class families. Nor can they be fixed by passing the burden to local communities or by decimating public health, safety and other vital services our citizens deserve.
Last year’s experience here in Connecticut proved that it is impossible to balance budgets — let alone improve the economy, create decent jobs or reduce inequality — through cuts alone.
The truly “balanced and responsible” solution that the governor seeks calls for Connecticut’s wealthiest citizens and largest corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.