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Fight for a Fair State Budget Moves Forward

Thousands of AFT Connecticut-affiliated union members on September 24 listened, asked questions and provided recommendations for ensuring the governor followed through with his promised veto. Hundreds by that time had already sent email messages or called his office demanding that he reject a fiscal package that unfairly targeted working people, their families and their communities.
Calling the budget an “unprecedented attack on public service, health, education and working people,” AFT Connecticut President Jan Hochadel laid out our immediate challenges for town hall participants. From a “secret teacher tax” to “significantly damaged” collective bargaining rights, she explained how the austerity scheme targeted “the middle class and public services while protecting the wealthy and corporations.”
Click here for a summary of the most destructive elements in the budget passed on September 16.
Joining the telephone town hall from Washington, DC, national AFT President Randi Weingarten called the current crisis facing our members a “political emergency, unprecedented in Connecticut’s 230-year history.” But, as she explained, it’s following a pattern that has played out across the country where special interest-backed politicians “create a fiscal crisis” as cover for a radical agenda.
Click here for news coverage of the labor movement’s collective efforts to defeat this toxic budget.
Also joining the telephone town hall was Speaker of the House of Representatives Joe Aresimowicz, who provided a firsthand account from the State Capitol. Describing an alternative two-year spending plan produced by Democratic lawmakers as “not a good budget either,” he explained that it was “a compromise from the beginning.”
Speaker Aresimowicz went on to explain his nervousness about upcoming budget deliberations saying he expected “something between the two” previous competing proposals, neither of which were fair to working people.
Click here for the latest news reporting on the status of negotiations between lawmakers and the governor.
Understanding the risks of inaction, union members have for the past two weeks ratcheted up calls for their representatives to make better choices once the governor exercised his veto authority. 
Support staff and caregivers at the University of Connecticut (UConn) and UConn Health last week joined their colleagues for a major demonstration in Hartford. Union members brought their students and patients to echo the message to lawmakers that cuts to vital higher education and public health services would harm our state’s future.
Click here for news coverage of the “#SaveUConn” rally held outside the Legislative Office Building.
Union members in Norwalk then mobilized a local press conference to call out a scheme to hike teachers’ retirement security costs but divert the funds from shoring up their pensions. Carrying signs outside one of their middle schools denouncing the “secret teacher tax” in the budget passed by lawmakers, educators demanded they instead invest in their students’ learning opportunities.
Click here for reporting on the event where members called out a targeted tax for teachers, “not for millionaires, not for billionaires.”
The night before the governor vetoed the toxic fiscal package, members from several local unions turned out to hold one of the nine Democratic lawmakers who voted for it accountable. At an in-person town hall in Middletown, state Senator Paul Doyle heard directly from teachers, state employees and retirees, in addition to students, parents and other concerned residents.
The collective message was loud and clear; budgets should not be balanced on the backs of the working people in Sen. Doyle’s district.
As negotiations between legislative leaders and the governor on a new state spending blueprint resume, it’s vital that Sen. Doyle and his colleagues hear from all our members. Lawmakers need to know Connecticut’s labor movement will not stand for another anti-worker state budget that protects the rich and corporations at the expense of the rest of us.
Click here to send a message to your state Representative or Senator if they were among the nine Democrats to support the toxic package.

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