Do I feed my children or do I pay the rent? What do you do when the children of your state have to live in poverty because their parents lack the economic resources to take care of their needs? What do you do when public officials who pass legislation and make policies totally ignore the people who are affected by their acts?

A mother with two children in the Hartford, Conn., area needs to earn about $20 an hour in order to be self-sufficient. However, in the state of Connecticut the minimum wage is $7.10 an hour.

What do you do when you want to end child poverty in Connecticut? You must speak out! Republican Gov. Jodi Rell stated that she will have to make tough decisions when it comes to the budget for 2005–2007. If you support ending child poverty in Connecticut make your state legislators and Gov. Rell tax the rich!

If you charge a tax of two pennies on every dollar of income over $200,000, the state will generate additional revenue of more than $650 million. These two little pennies will open many opportunities to end child poverty, pay for students to get a higher education, lower property taxes, provide affordable child care and universal health coverage, and have a little peace of mind. Energy assistance programs can be expanded to keep all of our homes warm in the winter.

This tax can be used to provide the services that are needed to nurture productive citizens. With all of these opportunities, there will be less crime, fewer prisoners. More people will have more money to spend, which would help our economy.

The average taxpayer has had enough taxes imposed on us. By taxing the rich this small amount, we know for sure that it will not make any wealthy person go to bed hungry or get evicted from the mansion.

Last year the state raised taxes on all of us. Most of us just don’t have the ability to pay any more in taxes than what we already pay. The state leadership needs to understand that they cannot push this burden onto those of us who don’t earn enough to pay it.

After Democratic Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan ignored several meeting invitations from Vecinos Unidos, a Hartford neighborhood group, 80 people, mostly women and children, went to his home last December to speak to him and leave giant Seasons Greetings postcards at his doorstep. Sullivan filed a complaint with the local police and the governor’s security unit. He had the local and state police make numerous calls to members of Vecinos Unidos to intimidate people and prevent them from exercising their civil rights and speaking their mind.

But only one month later, Lt. Gov. Sullivan announced a fiscal reform package that includes the “millionaires tax” which was passed by the Democratic legislature in the last session, only to be vetoed three times by then-Gov. John Rowland.

We have an opportunity to dramatically improve the quality of life for most Connecticut residents with a relatively small tax increase for those who can easily afford it. You can either choose to tax the rich or tax all of us who are already paying enough. Yes, politicians have a tough decision to make. Tax the rich!

The authors are members of Vecinos Unidos.