Malloy speaks in Windham
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Mon., Apr. 4, 2011
What a difference a day makes. After a stop in Greenwich on March 28, Gov. Dannel Malloy appeared in Manchester on March 29, and then Windham on March 30, going from one of the richest towns in the state to one of the poorest. With a per capita income nearing $75,000,
Greenwich ranks within the top 60 wealthiest towns in the United States. Windham’s per capita income, on the other hand, hovers between $20,000 and $25,000, depending on the source.
The stops were part of a series of 17 “Town Hall Meetings” which Malloy has scheduled between late February and early April. The intent is to share details of his proposed budget, and to allow residents around the state to pose questions and share feedback. Malloy began by repeating his now-familiar refrain that he isn’t responsible for the $3.3 billion deficit currently facing the state. He then went over some of the details of his proposed budget, which includes $2 billion in concessions over two years from state employees and tax changes, including income tax and sales taxes increases, as well as an increase to the state gas tax.
Malloy said that with a median income of $42,764, Windham residents would see, on average, $478 in additional income tax and an extra $37 in sales tax. With a proposed state earned income tax credit, a qualifying family with two children would receive a rebate of $164. A family with three children would realize $353.
One of the messages that came through loud and clear in Windham was that some, like local resident Sarah Aronowicz, would like to see the wealthy taxed more heavily. Perhaps thinking back to his visit to Greenwich, Malloy warned of the repercussions of putting undue burden on the state’s wealthiest residents. One of the most often-quoted residents at the Greenwich meeting was Cos Cob Republican Julia Chiappetta. “What’s my incentive to live here?” she asked. “Why not live in Florida.” State Rep. Lile Gibbons, a Republican from the 150th District, reportedly reminded Malloy that hedge funds, one of Greenwich’s staple industries, merely need computers and telephones and can easily move business to another location.
“If the super-rich have to pay more taxes, they might leave the state,” said Malloy, in response to Aronowicz’ inquiry. “I’m trying to keep them from voting with their feet and taking their jobs with them.”
“If the super-rich are here for tax breaks, they are parasites and leeches on the state,” responded Aronowicz.
Leroy Hollis, a Willimantic resident employed by the state, wanted to know if state employees were going to share the sacrifice equally. "I want to know exactly how much is going to come out of the pockets of yourself, all legislators, the judges, all of the state university presidents and, especially, how much is going to come out of the highest-paid state employee, who makes over $2 million?" he asked.
Malloy said that concessions would apply to state employees across the board. As for Jim Calhoun, "I gotta tell you, I'm not sure I want to pick on coach Calhoun this week," Malloy joked. "But maybe next week."
Griswold resident Hall Gillis said that state employee unions had already been asked to give back. “Now you’re asking us to give more,” said Gillis. Though state employees are willing to do their part, the banks that “ran this country into the ground,” need to step up as well, said Gillis. A flier circulating the auditorium, put out by Connecticut Action Alliance for a Fair Economy (representing local unions, religious groups, and citizens’ groups), claims that Bank of America, holding $1 out of every $5 of deposits in the state, “is able to avoid paying taxes at the state level through tax credits and subsidies.” CAAFE estimates that the state has lost nearly a half billion dollars between 2009 and 2011 through overall corporate tax credits.
Another common concern of Windham residents was Malloy’s failure to fully support the SustiNet Health Partnership system. Advocates who spoke in support of Sustinet included Generations Family Health Center Executive Director Arvind Shaw, who has served on the SustiNet Health Partnership Health Disparities & Equity Advisory Committee.