Connecticut’s largest healthcare workers’ union launched a new online ad Friday charging state officials with favoring the wealthy and urging higher taxes on capital gains in the next state budget.

The 30-second spot by SEIU 1199 New England comes not only as state employees are being asked to grant wage and benefit givebacks. At the same time, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and top legislators from both parties are urging no tax hikes on the rich, and some recommend reducing the levy on estates valued over $2 million.

“This state belongs to all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful,” opens the ad, which features statements from over a dozen union members and other Connecticut residents. “It’s time to stop blaming workers.”

Connecticut currently taxes capital gains at the same rate as all other income.

Separate budget proposals from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, House Republicans and Senate Republicans, as well as a fourth plan developed jointly by House and Senate Democrats, all avoid progressive income tax hikes.

The governor and many legislative leaders have said Connecticut must avoid tax hikes aimed specifically at the wealthy, arguing past increases of this type contributed to the recent decline in income tax receipts.

A tax increase on capital gains is needed “so billionaire hedge fund managers stop paying a lower percentage than middle-class workers,” the ad continues. “We’ve tried budgets that favor the wealthy. That has only led to more deficits. Connecticut is not one race, one gender, one tax bracket. Let’s start having a budget that works for all of us.”

Union spokeswoman Jennifer Schneider said the commercial features Democrats and Republicans, and union and non-union workers. “The diverse group represented in the ad clearly shows the budget is not working for the majority of people in Connecticut,” she said.

SEIU 1199 New England and more than a dozen other bargaining units are asking their members to ratify concessions worth more than $1.5 billion to support the next two-year state budget.

The concessions framework would:

  • Freeze wages for three fiscal years;
  • Impose three furlough days on all workers;
  • Double pension contributions for most workers;
  • Create a hybrid pension/defined-contribution plan for future workers;
  • Increase health care co-payments and premiums;
  • Require active workers to contribute more toward retirement health care;
  • And curtail health care benefits for existing retirees.

In return for these concessions, the state would extend its worker benefits contract — which otherwise would expire in 2022 — until 2027. Unions that grant wage concessions also would be largely exempt from layoffs through the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Keith has spent most of his 31 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut’s transportation and social services networks. He has been the state finances reporter at CT Mirror since it launched in 2010. Prior to joining CT Mirror Keith was State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, a reporter for the Day of New London, and a former contributing writer to The New York Times. Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut.

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