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CEO-Led Commission Raises Taxes, Takes Aim at Worker Freedoms, Teacher Pensions

CEA Executive Director Donald Williams (at left), Connecticut AFL-CIO President Lori Pelletier, and AFSCME Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano talk to reporters about the commission’s report.

Raising the state sales and gas taxes, eliminating the estate and gift taxes, selectively raising business taxes, eliminating collective bargaining for state workers, and reforming the Teachers’ Retirement System are just a few of the recommendations released today by the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth.

The 14-member commission, made up mostly of wealthy CEOs and business leaders—nine of whom have strong ties to the Connecticut Business and Industry Association—proposed 10 key recommendations, the majority of which hurt the state’s middle class.

“There is much to unpack in the commission’s report, but raising taxes that disproportionately harm the middle class while providing tax cuts for the wealthy is not a formula that makes sense,” said CEA Executive Director Donald Williams.

“Raising the state sales tax and gas tax while eliminating the estate and gift taxes, and lowering income taxes most significantly for the wealthy, are not the bold reforms our state needs to help grow our economy. While we agree with other recommendations to improve our infrastructure and cities, we oppose taking away the rights of working men and women that will worsen wage inequality and make Connecticut less attractive for skilled employees,” Williams said.

The group is recommending as of yet undisclosed changes to the contribution levels and benefits of the Teachers’ Retirement Fund and utilizing the revenue from the state lottery system to help pay down the unfunded liabilities of the fund.

“The proposal to utilize the revenue stream of the state lottery system for the Teachers’ Retirement Fund is a concept that requires further examination, but could help reduce the unfunded liability, ensure a consistent revenue stream, and improve the long-term viability of the fund. The Teachers’ Retirement Viability Commission is also examining options to secure the stability of the fund, and we await the recommendations from this Commission in the coming weeks,” Williams added.

And while the commission called for increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, members also want to strike collective bargaining rights for state workers.

The commission’s proposal to eliminate collective bargaining would put state employee pension benefits and funding in the hands of the legislature—the very body that has underfunded the Teachers’ Retirement System for decades, thereby creating a significant unfunded liability that has jeopardized the fund’s solvency.

CEA will advocate against the most egregious parts of this plan and urge legislators not to accept these harmful proposals. Over the next few days, CEA will conduct further review of the report and address issues that would further harm, not help, Connecticut and its residents.

Read statement from CEA Executive Director Donald Williams.

Read statement from labor leaders.

Read the commission’s full report.

Read the executive summary.

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