Coalition desires to cut back inequalities in schooling, well being care and employment

Rev. Josh Pawelek speaks to the crowd at the May 1 rally outside the governor’s mansion. (File photo / Courtesy of Recovery for All)

A group of lawmakers, community organizations and unions on Friday called for tax restructuring that allocates more than $ 2.7 billion annually to long-term investments to reduce inequalities in education, health care and employment.

It’s not about getting the richest residents in the state to raise taxes, according to members of the Recovery for All CT coalition, which includes more than 50 community, faith and labor organizations calling for changes in the way programs help who help low-income residents are funded.

It’s about addressing persistent inequalities that have been ignored for years, said Senator Gary Winfield, D-New Haven.

“Justice requires revenue,” Winfield said during a group press conference Friday morning as the General Assembly resumed its work on the state budget in time for the final days of the legislature. “That conversation was about what we’re going to do with the federal money (from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act). But should it be who as a state do we want to be? “

However, Governor Ned Lamont has refused to consider a tax hike, his communications director Max Reiss said on Friday.

“Governor Lamont has been saying clearly for months that he is against large-scale tax hikes such as income tax hikes. Connecticut does not need any additional taxes. We need more taxpayers, ”said Reiss. “Our state has the ability to use federal funds to make historic and transformative investments in our most underserved communities in order to meet the goals of helping our residents. At the same time, tens of thousands who decided to move to our state in the last year are welcome. “

Recovery for All CT, backed by dozens of Democratic lawmakers and lawmakers across the Northeast, wants $ 783 million annual increases to fund universal preschool for all Connecticut children and provide more money to difficult school districts.

The group also wants an additional $ 305 million for higher education, including $ 115 million for the University of Connecticut Teaching Hospital at Farmington, more than $ 700 million annually to provide Husky health insurance to lower-income residents, including Undocumented immigrants to expand and give more money to community health centers and an additional $ 1 billion for education, job creation and community aid.

The group’s proposal would move the fund beyond the current level of the proposed two-year budget and in addition to the $ 6 billion the state will receive under the American Rescue Plan Act, said Puya Gerami, speaking on behalf of the group.

People are injured, including caregivers who earn low wages, have no avenue to dignified retirement, and lack health care, said Pam Hunt, a home carer who faced breast cancer in 2017. Hunt needs regular screening to make sure the cancer has not returned. But she said her husky health insurance will expire in three days.

“I refuse to put hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt,” she said. But she is also concerned that she may not get the medical care she needs. “I ask all of you, how is it fair that 14 people in Connecticut made $ 12.6 billion last year while many of the ‘essential workers’ in Connecticut suffered from illness, inadequate health insurance and general ailment?” Said Hunt. “It’s not fair. That has to change now.”

Nursing home workers suffer the same plight as domestic workers, said Anne Hughes, a Democrat from Easton. They weren’t allowed to come to work remotely, but had few benefits to helping them through the pandemic, Hughes said.

“We have heard time and again that this pandemic has exposed a deliberately underinvested care infrastructure, carried primarily by women and often also by women of the same color,” said Hughes. “These workers no longer want to be exploited. We need to seize this unique opportunity and invest fairly in our care infrastructure. “

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The state must responsibly increase revenue, Hughes said. “We have to reject the untenable, unsustainable status quo.”

The solution will not be to “search the pockets of certain residents,” said Winfield, adding that the state’s tax structure needs to be redefined to make it fairer.

“We need to understand that equity requires income,” said Winfield. “If we don’t understand this, we have forgotten the reason why we are doing the work that we are doing.”

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