A Public Bank for CT/Segarra’s Snow Job /Policy Watch

Community Update

Last Sunday John Gale announced on Face the State that he was entering the 2015 Hartford mayoral race. Gale tooted his own horn and talked about himself in the third person, but like incumbent Pedro Segarra and challenger Luke Bronin, Gale somehow could not find the time to mention the city’s increasing poverty rate. http://www.ctvoices.org/publications/poverty-income-and-health-insurance-connecticut-cities-and-towns-summary-2011-2013-data This was not surprising at all. During my tenure as Vice President of the West End Civic Association, Gale was one of the WECA members who arrogantly rejected my demand that the organization actively support racial justice legislation. People of color should note that none of the three candidates have mentioned anything that remotely resembles an urban policy plan.

A Public Bank for Connecticut

Rep. Susan Johnson (D-Windham) is sponsoring a public bank study bill. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2015&bill_num=5973 Rep. Matt Ritter sponsored the Community Party’s public infrastructure bank bill in 2013. The Bank of North Dakota is the nation’s only publicly owned bank. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX8pcADnsEs BND generates an average of $30 million in revenue a year; during the last decade the bank has produced $300 million for the state’s General Fund. North Dakota uses this money to fund social services programs and infrastructure projects, at NO COST to taxpayers. BND also facilitates principled lending, which benefits small businesses and homeowners. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZdzVzAUBuI Stay tuned to CP’s A Public Bank for Connecticut Facebook page for news and information on the nationwide public bank movement, analysis of banking issues in communities of color and updates on Rep. Johnson’s bill.

https://www.facebook.com/PublicBankCT

Segarra’s Snow Job

Last Tuesday Segarra (in full reelection mode) bragged about the City of Hartford’s snow removal efforts following a winter storm that dropped about 12 inches of snow. Not so fast, pal. Fox CT aired a report the next day on the Hartford Police towing vehicles that were still parked in school lots following the expiration of the citywide parking ban at 8:00 pm the night before. South Whitney Street resident Chris Little was interviewed after his car was towed. Chris had a valid excuse for not moving his car: South Whitney Street had not been plowed more than 24 hours after the storm hit. Fox CT sent photos of the snow covered street to Segarra, who of course said that a crew was on the way. He then gave the lame excuse that South Whitney residents could have parked on another street after the parking ban was lifted.

I have been a West End resident for 16 years. Parking on the street in this neighborhood can be difficult when it’s 75 degrees and sunny; following a major snowstorm the task becomes even harder. Community resident Gary Ridley hit the nail on the head during a conversation on my Facebook page.

“Dave the response (from City Hall) bothers me. What if they had to park their car two blocks over from where they live and (it was) 20 degrees in the morning… How would they feel? They know it’s unfair.” Damn right. Activist Evelyn Richardson suggested that we call Segarra’s office and demand that Chris be reimbursed for the ticketing and towing of his vehicle. My call to Segarra’s spokesperson Maribel La Luz was not returned. Evelyn was told that if we could locate Chris, Segarra would “take care of it”. As of press time we have not been able to get in touch with him. If anyone has Chris’ contact info, tell him to email Evelyn at erichardson45@yahoo,com or me at samuelssloflo@aol.com or send either of us a message on Facebook. If Segarra really wanted to find Chris, he would have done so by now. The question remains as to why South Whitney Street was overlooked following the snowstorm. Segarra lives in the West End. It’s pretty hard to miss a street in your neighborhood that hasn’t been plowed. I submit that South Whitney was ignored because it’s in a low income community of color.

This week we’ll present the debut of CP’s Policy Watch series, which will include news and commentary on municipal, state and national public policy issues. We’ll analyze President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address and Gov. Dan Malloy’s budget cuts to social services.

Policy Watch

President Obama’s January 20 State of the Union address was consistent: the First Black President has not mentioned poverty nor Black/Latino unemployment since he has been in office. The address was notable for Obama announcing progressive initiatives that he knows damn well will die a quick death now that the Republicans hold the majority in the U.S. House and Senate. Black Agenda Report commentator Glen Ford gave his take on the Obama charade.

“Tuesday night, in his next-to-last State of the Union address, President Obama flashed the suckers a bag of tricks that has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Congress, but will allow his apologists to claim that the genuine, more progressive Obama is revealing himself in his final two years in office. Of course, the final-years Obama could have accomplished his modest 2015 agenda, and much more, back in 2009 and 2010, when Democrats dominated both the House and the Senate and the Republicans were in despair and disarray. Which is precisely why Obama chose, instead, to put his party’s perishable congressional majorities at the service of bankers, Wall Street, private insurers and Big Pharma. Now that Democrats are the endangered species on Capitol Hill, Obama hangs a piñata of subsidized community college education, additional tax deductions for child care, seven days paid sick leave, higher capital gains taxes on the wealthy, and billions in fees on casino bankers.

On closer examination, his grab bag of bills and requests for legislation contains even less than advertised – a vapor-thin rhetorical veneer for a center-right presidency whose real accomplishment has been to re-inflate the Wall Street casino, flush the last vestiges of secure employment out of the economy, and put the imperial war machine back on the offensive.”

The Malloy administration reported a $121 million deficit earlier this month. A $1.3 billion hole looms for the next fiscal year. As usual Malloy took out his budget hatchet and again slashed funding to vital social services. The Connecticut Mirror reported on the damage.

“Almost $11 million was taken from various social service agencies. The largest cut was aimed at the Department of Developmental Services, which lost $8.4 million. And more than half those funds came from employment and other support programs for people with disabilities, or from voluntary services. A smaller cut of almost $60,000 targets a Department of Public Health program that pays for medical care of patients with tuberculosis. The department included it in a list of potential budget cuts submitted to Malloy’s budget office, but noted that reducing funding for the program ‘could result in less patients being treated and TB being spread to others in the community.’ ”

For years the nonprofit Connecticut Voices for Children has presented common sense budget solutions that have been ignored by Malloy and the General Assembly. Malloy has blamed a lack of revenue for the red ink hemorrhaging from the State Capitol. The following policy recommendations by CT Voices for Children would bring in much needed cash. The full menu of budget and tax publications is available on their website.

http://www.ctvoices.org/publications?issue=1

Our current revenue system falls short of generating the resources needed to maintain vital public structures such as education and healthcare. Connecticut has faced deficits from Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 through FY 2018. Our system is not only inadequate but also unfair: the richest 1% of residents pay half the proportion of income in state and local taxes that the poorest 20% do; meanwhile, Connecticut is one of only two states that make no adjustment in their income taxes for the cost of raising children.

Reforms to Connecticut’s state and local revenue system can make it more adequate, fair, and accountable by aiming to achieve the following goals:

Reduce Connecticut’s overreliance on the local property tax to fund public education, diminishing discrepancies among towns and offering property tax relief to residents and businesses.
•Increase the adequacy and reduce the regressivity of the state’s revenue system by counteracting the erosion of our tax base, avoiding regressive sales and property tax increases, and strengthening the state’s Rainy Day Fund to build a cushion of revenues to help weather the next downturn.
•Make Connecticut’s tax system more family friendly by creating a Child Tax Credit that accounts for the high cost of raising children and brings Connecticut in line with most states and the federal government with fairer tax treatment for families raising children.
•Continue posting additional years and categories of tax subsidy data on Connecticut’s new online database, allowing citizens, advocates, and the media to scrutinize how public dollars are put to use in supporting the state’s businesses.
•Refine the state’s new, biennial tax incidence analysis once it is released, ensuring that subsequent versions of the analysis are even more useful to reformers and policymakers.
• Mandatory combined reporting, which 22 other states already use, would catch much of the income that larger corporations shelter from taxation through avoidance schemes that smaller businesses typically cannot afford. Under one such scheme, called the “Las Vegas Loophole,” a corporation establishes a shell company in another state that does not tax corporate income, like Nevada. The shell company then charges the real company for payments that reduce its Connecticut profits (and thus tax liability), even though the shell then refunds the payments back to the real company. The real company gets its dollars back, plus a lower tax bill. Closing loopholes like this through mandatory combined reporting could generate $70 to $120 million annually.

•The throwback rule, which about half of states with corporate income taxes already have, would catch much of the tax revenue that simply falls through our system’s cracks. With multi-state corporations, the various states’ apportionment formulas sometimes are not able to account for all income: some income, so-called “nowhere income,” is not booked in any state and thus goes untaxed. On balance, this means larger Connecticut corporations, with more out-of-state revenues, are able to pay lower taxes than smaller ones, with fewer such revenues. The throwback rule makes sure “nowhere income” is taxed at Connecticut businesses, closing the loophole and removing the unfairness towards smaller businesses. The rule could generate $20 million annually.

Follow CP on Twitter for state, national and global headlines and updates on the status of our Trayvon Martin and Safe Work Environment Acts, including action alerts. https://twitter.com/CommunityParty1 Listen to WQTQ 89.9 FM for CP’s public service announcements on our racial justice initiatives. https://www.facebook.com/wqtqfm Check out our No Sellout blog (https://hendu39.wordpress.com/) for the complete archive of CP columns and Northend Agent’s for selected columns (http://www.northendagents.com/) . Contact us at 860-206-8879 or info.community.party@gmail.com

David Samuels

Founder

Community Party

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