Billionaires vs. the people in Connecticuts tax the rich fight

HARTFORD, Conn. — Four limos filled with “billionaires” drove up to the steps of the Connecticut State Capitol yesterday to hold a “Thank you Governor Rell for NOT taxing the rich!” rally.

The July 30 tongue-in-cheek street theater event, called “Billionaires for Budget Cuts,” was sponsored by the Working Families Party of Connecticut.

Connecticut is one of a handful of states that has not yet adopted a state budget. The Democratic-controlled state Legislature is at loggerheads with Gov. Jodi Rell, a Republican.

Connecticut is one of the richest states in the United States, and the Democrats are pushing for a fair tax structure to help pay for an $8.5 billion shortfall in the state’s budget. As part of an effort to close that gap the Democrats are proposing a progressive income tax that would increase taxes on the rich. Currently the richest 1% of Connecticut residents pays only 4.7 % of their income in state taxes while lowest paid workers pay 10.9%. Gov. Rell has refused to discuss a progressive income tax with the Democrats and the budget fight is heating up.

“Taxes are for little people,” sang out the “billionaires” clad in tuxedos and top hats, or ball gowns, at the rally here. The “billionaires” carried signs that read, “Stop education funding wow,” “Gov. Rell — our best investment ever,” and “Don’t tax the rich.” A banner trailing from a small plane that flew over the Capitol said, “Cheers to Rell.”

The response of Gov. Rell and the Republican State Committee, who have provided no answers to the proposed progressive income tax, reverted to an old McCarthy anti-communist tactic. Rell’s office put out a press release saying that the Democrats “have apparently aligned themselves with the Connecticut Communist Party for their latest act of political theater.” They were referring to the party’s blog posting that announced the “Billionaires for Budget Cuts” event. The blog address is . Meanwhile, the fight for a fair budget continues.