An Open Letter from Clergy and Leaders of Faith Communities to Governor Dannel Malloy and members of the Connecticut General Assembly

We, the undersigned clergy and leaders of faith communities, urge you to take a different approach to the current budget you are about to impose on Connecticut residents.

We urge you to reject the dominant narrative of fear and scarcity, especially as it is proclaimed by the representatives* for the wealthiest of our state’s residents-­‐‑ and instead consider the individuals, the children and the families whose lives you will profoundly impact with your decisions and actions. (We use the word “representatives” because we believe there are many wealthy and privileged in Connecticut who would be proud to pay their fair share.)

The crafting of our state’s fiscal policies to meet the interests of the economically privileged, specifically the top 1%, is myopic and immoral. An austerity budget as it is being crafted will benefit the few, who by no means live on an austerity budget, and will deprive the many, who do.

It is not too late to reverse course.

Budgets are moral documents. A great religious leader proclaimed that “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Budgets can lift millions out of poverty; budgets can consign millions to poverty. Budgets can provide access to a vibrant network of “public goods” such as quality affordable health care, public education, health insurance and other essential human services. Budgets can also bury us deeper into a system of income inequality that commonly reveals the fault lines of racism, classism, ageism, and an insidious fear of “the other” however defined.

Budgets can strengthen the mechanisms that make a democracy more inclusive. Budgets can also dismantle those mechanisms, weakening the fabric of a democracy that promises “liberty and justice for all”.

Governor Malloy and members of the Connecticut General Assembly, the choices you make today are moral ones, with a profound impact on us all.

  • Cutting access to needed services, reducing access to child care programs, eliminating Earned Income Tax Credits, laying off or eliminating the opportunity for the very workers who provide these services to continue to work, while proposing that 100 Connecticut residents receive a tax break of $100,000 through a repeal of the estate tax?

This is a moral choice. 

  • Cutting 9,500 HUSKY parents from the Medicaid program, eliminating basic dental services for the poor and elderly, and taking actions that will erode Connecticut’s

Medicaid program as a health guarantee for our low-­‐‑income, elderly and disabled, while refusing to seriously consider a .01 % revenue increase on the incomes of extraordinarily wealthy individuals?

This is a moral choice. 

  • Balancing our state budget on the backs of low and moderate income families, while allowing large profitable corporations to pay their workers poverty wages without consequence.

This is a moral choice.

We understand that the projected budget deficits are daunting. We understand that the choices you face are not easy. We also understand that those who benefit most from a system of inequality generally exercise their power and privilege to protect their interests, their wealth, and a system that indulges them every day, whatever the long-­‐‑term negative consequences for a larger quality of life for the majority of Connecticut’s residents.

We call on you to resist the temptation of serving those who are wealthy and powerful, and instead-­‐‑ root your actions and choices to serve the greater good.

We urge you to reconsider the current course of our state budgeting and to embrace policy alternatives that will create greater equity and justice in our state.  You can do so by:

  • Modernizing our current sales tax system;
  • Broadening the services taxed while lowering the rate of sales tax, thereby raising

$730 million;

  • Reforming the wealth and income tax systems, thereby generating $238 million from our wealthiest individuals;
  • Assessing a low wage employer fee on large profitable corporations, thereby generating $305 million;
  • Passing a sugary beverage tax that will promote health choices, while raising up to

$105 million.

The above reforms alone could generate $1.38 billion in additional revenue!

The voice of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King sounds for our own time: “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

As leaders of faith communities, as residents of this state, and as your constituents, we urge you to heed the wisdom of Dr. King the simple morality of “The Golden Rule”; and the visionary social, economic, and political viability of a new course.

In faith and finance,

CT Clergy