Progressive caucus holding governor’s feet to the fire on a campaign promise for middle-class tax relief

Politics

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A progressive group of lawmakers is holding Governor Ned Lamont’s feet to the fire on a campaign promise for middle-class tax reform.

The lawmakers, all Democrats, held a virtual news conference Wednesday. They laid out their plan for a Connecticut recovery that they say, “levels the playing field.”

This group of 30 lawmakers from both the State House and State Senate represents about six percent of the entire legislature.

They hold a voting block that could change the dynamic of budget negotiations.

This self-proclaimed group of “Champions of the Recovery” held up Denise Rogers of Hamden as an example of someone who is being left behind in the pandemic. Rogers is a bus driver who ferried Yale Hospital doctors to their jobs. She is now a COVID long hauler.

“I’m still having the side effects of brain recall and fatigue.”

She lost her husband Howard to COVID. He is one of the 7,000 victims in Connecticut.

Rogers says she is having trouble getting compensated by her company for her illness.

“We still have to fight for workers comp. It’s still a battle out here and we need your help.”

The lawmakers are calling on the governor to make good on his campaign promise to give the middle-class relief.

State Representative Robyn Porter says, “I understand he [Governor Lamont] ran on a platform and declared what he will and will not do, but extreme conditions call for extreme measures.”

They are proposing solutions aimed at taxing the rich:

  • 2% statewide property tax on homes worth more than $2.1 million
  • A reduction in the estate tax threshold to those valued at $2 million or more
  • 5% surtax on capital gains for married couples who earn more than $800,000 a year

They say those ideas will raise more than $1.5 billion for programs aimed at equity in education, housing and healthcare.

Another constituent caught in the COVID gap, Gavin Guerra from Weston. His daughter is autistic and has a life-threatening disease that requires expensive doctors not covered by the state healthcare exchange. He pays $30,000 a year in COBRA premiums as an independent gig worker. He has no job-related insurance.

“I’m not a wealthy person. I am just a concerned father,” said Guerra. “My daughter requires specialists that are mainly located in New York City. Often these plans on the Connecticut Exchange do not allow you to have doctors who are not Connecticut based.”

These lawmakers want to expand Husky and Medicare too. Most controversial this group wants the governor to declare a fiscal emergency, which would then allow the legislature to vote to exceed the spending cap. A red line for Republicans and conservative Democrats.

State Representative Vin Candelora the Republican House Minority Leader said, “I don’t think we should be using the pandemic to blow through a well established spending cap. If we did we could end up with a pandemic fiscal crisis.”

All of these ideas have been widely dismissed by the governor, who has publicly said, “I am against any broad-based tax increase.”

His budget will be presented next week. This progressive caucus says, “If this pandemic, which has cracked open every fissure in our systems, is not a ‘rainy day’ then what is?”

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