Policy Watch: Jim Vicevich, CT Republicans Use Budget Issue to Push Corporatist Agenda

This column appears in the May 14 – 21 edition of the Hartford News…

Capitol Update: Call and email your legislators and tell them to vote Yes on H.B. 5437, Rep. Matt Ritter’s racial profiling bill, and anti-police brutality legislation currently active at the State Capitol. Rep. Ritter’s bill includes the Community Party’s Trayvon Martin Act traffic stop receipt amendment. Check out our Action Alert on the CP No Sellout blog for details. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/action-alert-stop-racial-profiling-police-brutality-in-connecticut/ Mary Sanders, who wrote CP’s Trayvon Martin Act bill language, will be a guest May 26th at 8:00 pm on Voice of the City with host JCherry on WESU 88.1 FM.

S.B. 1035 An Act Concerning Bullying in the Workplace passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee vote unanimously. However the bill only contains CP’s Safe Work Environment Act advisory board amendment, while our enforcement language has been excluded. There is an uncalled Senate amendment which would delay S.B. 1035 from going into effect until January 1, 2017. http://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&which_year=2015&bill_num=1035 Tell legislators to add CP’s enforcement provisions to S.B. 1035 and to enact the bill January 1, 2016. https://hendu39.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/real-protection-against-workplace-bullying-safe-work-environment-act/ Visit the Connecticut General Assembly website for info on finding and contacting your legislators. http://www.cga.ct.gov/

WTIC NewsTalk 1080 talk show host Jim Vicevich and the CT Republicans are attacking state employees in an effort to push a corporatist agenda: specifically privatizing state services and rolling back the wages and benefits gains of public sector workers (I’m a state employee). The Republicans introduced a state budget plan which calls for human services to be funded by state workers agreeing to concessions, which they have already done twice since 2009. Vicevich was a guest on Face the State May 3 and babbled about the current union contract which was negotiated by Gov. John Rowland, while he declared that the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee budget proposal to raise taxes on couples making more than $1,000,000 and individuals earning more than $500,000 was “silly”. http://ctmirror.org/2015/04/29/tax-plan-would-boost-revenues-by-1-9-billion-over-two-years/ The real problem with the finance committee plan is that the threshold should be $250,000 or more and the increase from 6.7% to 6.99% is insufficient: the rate could have been increased to over 7% and still left CT well below the rates in New York and New Jersey (see below). Vicevich claimed that working class people in the state “have the money” that the state would have to go after to boost revenue through taxes. The Government Spending Watchdog fell silent when I confronted him on Twitter with the CT Voices for Children proposal to bring in revenue by targeting those who really “have the money”: corporations.

“Connecticut can avoid deep budget cuts to programs supporting children and families by fixing tax inequities and waste.

The report outlines a series of revenue options that could prevent harmful cuts to essential programs and services, including: Establishing ‘sunset,’ or expiration dates, for tax breaks. Tax expenditures — in the form of exemptions, deductions and credits – result in a loss of over $6 billion in state revenues, nearly one-third of the state’s annual budget. Yet, unlike other forms of public spending, these tax breaks are not reviewed each year in the budget process. The report suggests establishing automatic sunset dates for all existing and new tax expenditure that would require regular review of these tax breaks.

Eliminating ineffective or outdated tax expenditures. The report specifically identifies $476 million in tax expenditures for elimination, including tax exemptions for amusement and recreation services, winter boat storage, and lawn bowling clubs. The reason given by the state’s Office of Fiscal Analysis for the creation of these expenditures is either expediency — defined as violating best tax practices without offsetting public benefit — or economic incentive for goods or services that no longer require special treatment.

Broadening the base of the sales tax to include more services. While the sales tax applies to the sale of most goods, services are not taxed unless done so explicitly through legislative action. Services make up a growing share of the state’s economy, but the state’s sales tax has not kept pace.

Increasing progressivity at the top end of the state’s personal income tax. Connecticut’s top ‘marginal rate’ of 6.7% is substantially lower than those in other states like New York (8.82%) and New Jersey (8.97%). Increasing progressivity by raising top rates would offset $300 million in cuts to children and families while leveraging significant ($114 million) federal funding. Further revenue options include closing corporate tax loopholes through “combined reporting” reforms, raising the cigarette tax, and introducing a sugar-sweetened beverage and candies tax.”

If Vicevich and the Republicans were truly interested in curbing government spending, they would enthusiastically support the CT Voices for Children plan. Both would be constantly talking about the $6 billion (that’s BILLION, with a b) that the state is losing through corporate tax breaks which aren’t subject to legislative oversight. Vicevich and the GOP aren’t saying a word about it, because they’re corporatists. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7260.htm The government spending argument is a pretext to privatize public sector services, the biggest employer of Black people. By dismantling state services the gains in wages and benefits workers have made would be wiped out. Wall Street would be able to ‘Walmartize’ human services the way they have education. I mean that literally. Walmart, big banks and hedge fund managers are huge investors in charter schools, a relationship that was exposed by Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez ( http://www.democracynow.org/2010/5/7/juan_gonzalez_big_banks_making_a) and other independent media outlets such as Daily Kos http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/18/1371729/-Walmart-heirs-foundation-advises-hedge-funds-on-how-to-profit-from-charter-schools. Because Walmart refuses to pay its workers a living wage, these employees have to rely on public assistance to supplement their insufficient income. A company which makes billions of dollars in profits shifts their labor costs to taxpayers. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/10/1141724/-Walmart-fuels-inequality-epidemic-taking-advantage-of-our-safety-net#

Vicevich and the GOP don’t talk about these colossal amounts of wasted government dollars; they focus instead on public sector employees because they’re corporate shills. Last week Republican Congressman Darrell Issa said that America’s poor are the “envy of the world”. Issa is the wealthiest member of Congress with a net worth of $450 million. http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-05-09/dickensian-villain-darrell-issa-says-american-poor-are-envy-of-the-world/ As of January 2014, 50% of the members of Congress were millionaires. I could go on and on until the break of dawn, but you get the point. Vicevich and the Republicans don’t give a damn about government spending. They serve the corporate state. Private sector workers must stop falling for this divide and conquer b.s. When the corporatists are done rolling back state employees’ wages and benefits, they will come after yours next in their endless quest to fatten their balance sheets.

Resources

Analysis by Connecticut Mirror Budget Reporter Keith Phaneuf:

http://ctmirror.org/2015/04/29/tax-plan-would-boost-revenues-by-1-9-billion-over-two-years/

http://ctmirror.org/2015/04/30/a-shorthand-breakdown-of-the-new-state-tax-plan/

http://ctmirror.org/2015/05/06/state-tax-debate-whose-plan-really-helps-the-middle-class/

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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