A recent poll by a coalition of 60 community, labor, and faith organizations across Connecticut found broad support for a billionaires tax.
A poll of 500 people at the end of December and beginning of January believe the wealthy are not paying enough in taxes and 81% would support implementing an income tax on billionaires. It also found nearly 7 out of 10 voters support a tax on millionaires.
While it may be a popular idea it hasn’t been one that has gained traction with many lawmakers and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont.
Lamont, who netted $54 million in 2021, believes wealthy residents and the corporations they lead would flee the state if such a tax was imposed.
But is it such a crazy idea?
“Our state is home to countless multi-millionaires and billionaires who still don’t pay
what they owe in taxes. These results make it clear that Connecticut families want that
to change,” Josh Pawelek, parish minister of Unitarian Universalist Society: East and a member of the Recovery for All Coalition, said. “With skyrocketing rates of homelessness, a heartbreaking rise in overdose deaths and a growing teacher and healthcare worker shortage, our communities can’t afford to wait.”
The poll found voters would like to use the revenue from the state to fund public education, provide access to affordable housing, health care, and child care. The poll by TargetSmart also found support for a digital ad tax on platforms like Facebook and Google that make more than $10 billion in gross revenues per year. There was also support for raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $1 million a year.
“In the wealthiest state in the country with a multibillion dollar surplus, it should come
as no surprise that the people of Connecticut want elected leaders to put those resources
into the things that matter most to families like education, healthcare and affordable
housing,” Sarah Ganong, state director of the Working Families Party, said.
But pushing for a tax on the rich seems to be an uphill battle for Progressives in Connecticut.
“It’s not as polarizing as most topics are in modern American politics,” Ben Lazarus, director of the research unit for TargetSmart, said during a virtual press conference Thursday.
A 2022 tax incidence report found that while the rich do pay more by dollar amount in taxes, those who make between $44,758 and $74,688 paid nearly three times that of those at the top.
Lazarus said he wasn’t surprised by the poll results.
“Wanting fairness in the tax code is not surprising to me that these have been the opinions all along,” Lazarus said.
He said after the Great Recession the conservative movement in this country seems to have created this narrative that austerity in government spending should be the norm.
Lamont has pitched $500 million in tax relief as part of his budget proposal, including making the income tax more progressive for low and middle-income households.
Rep. Anne Hughes, D-Easton, said Gov. Lamont was elected with 58% of the vote and she was re-elected with 62% of the vote. She said it’s her job to push this type of policy because it’s what the public wants.
“There’s a growing chorus, especially among the younger electorate, to hold these big monopoly corporations – you saw the turn out for some of energy ratepayers town hall – the public is tired of giving some these big profiteers a pass when the cost is being borne by those just struggling to survive,” Hughes said.
Recovery for All is calling on the legislature and Governor to listen to Connecticut voters
and reverse decades of bad policy choices. That means investing in critical needs that
advance racial, economic and gender equity for all our communities.