With a new, two-year state budget set to be decided before the current legislative session ends, a vocal coalition continues to demand a plan that prioritizes public education, the public good, and an equitable recovery from the pandemic.
Recovery for All, a coalition that includes CEA, organized a rally this weekend outside the Department of Labor and American Jobs Center in Hamden. Speakers representing unions, civic organizations, and faith-based groups described how chronic state underfunding has left many Connecticut residents without critical services during the pandemic and pushed families into homelessness and hunger.
Those gathered expressed their support for legislation such as Senate Bill 821: An Act Concerning the Reformation of Certain Taxes and Tax Equity, which makes investments where they are needed and creates a tax system that makes those investments possible. SB 821 would reform certain taxes to reduce the burden on middle-class families and enable investments in education, housing, healthcare, and long-term care services.
Labor Committee Co-Chair Senator Julie Kushner, one of ten lawmakers who introduced the bill, spoke at the Saturday event.
“When the pandemic hit, just like so many other things, all the weaknesses of the state were revealed,” she said. “People struggled. People were so unfortunate to not have resources at the state, because for years we have stripped away the services of the state by defunding departments like the Department of Labor. We need a recovery for all. That means we need to have healthcare and a living wage for everyone. We need funding for childcare centers. We need to fund—fully fund—our public schools. We need to have a state that works for everyone. This isn’t so hard to do. For decades and decades, this state had more equitable taxes, but we’ve gotten away from that. So it’s time for us to flip the switch and ask for fair taxation.”
CEA President Jeff Leake, CEA Secretary Stephanie Wanzer, and other leaders, staff, and members participated in the rally as well, showing their support with signs calling for a fair budget.
“We need to fully fund our schools, provide quality healthcare to all, and ensure fair wages and affordable childcare for working families if we are to come back better from this pandemic,” Wanzer said.
Leake agreed and added, “Senator Kushner and many of her colleagues believe, as we do, that a moral budget is an important goal—and an achievable one.”
Educators have sent hundreds of emails to their legislators asking them to support of SB 821 and similar measures to fully fund schools and other essential services. To send your own email, click here.
Community members—including parents, students, and lawmakers—have also submitted opinion pieces to local media outlets urging a Recovery for All. One such piece, by State Senate Pro Tempore Martin Looney, urged equity at the heart of Connecticut tax reforms.
“After navigating the challenges of the past year,” Looney wrote, “we now find ourselves at a crossroads as we decide how best to recover economically and rebuild our daily lives. America was inequitable in so many ways before the pandemic began, and those injustices have only deepened since. In this legislative
session, we are committed to evaluating public policy initiatives through the lenses of racial equity and social justice, and of protecting the middle class. To that end, it’s imperative that we craft a budget that is fair to middle income families while also addressing social justice. The central principle is simple: those who make more should contribute more. Not only is burdening Connecticut’s middle class unjust, but it will also hinder our efforts to recover from the economic stresses that the pandemic has wrought. According to the Economic Policy Institute, ‘taxing the rich, who spend the smallest share of their income, puts the least downward pressure on demand in state economies. The net effect on demand is strongly positive if these tax revenues are used to support state spending.’” Join fellow CEA members and learn more about what’s next in the Recovery for All campaign in a virtual meeting on Monday, April 26, at 4:30 p.m.