By Amanda Litvinov
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As any schoolchild can tell you, sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. Especially when you’re eyeball to eyeball with a gaggle of bullies determined to take you down the wrong path.
Connecticut Gov. Malloy and members of the state legislature are reliving this life lesson after adopting a budget earlier this month that closes several gaping corporate tax loopholes that have allowed major corporations to pay no income taxes in the state.
Several of those corporations—including General Electric and Aetna, which are among the state’s top employers—are threatening to close up shop in Connecticut if they can no longer avoid paying their fair share in income taxes there.
It’s hard to have a complete picture of what corporate giants like GE pay in corporate income taxes, because they won’t release those numbers. An analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice shows that GE routinely pays little or no state income tax. In 2014, GE made $5.75 billion in U.S. profits and paid less than zero in state income taxes.
That’s right—the company actually received $71 million in income tax rebates that year.
It is notable that GE was a longtime member of ALEC, the corporate lobbying machine that has helped conservative lawmakers nationwide convince constituents that being “business friendly” means giving tax breaks to mega-successful corporations that don’t need them.
Nothing could be further from the truth, says Connecticut teacher and Education Association President Sheila Cohen.
“The same things that make a state a great place to live make it business-friendly—and that includes great schools and roads that provide businesses with a skilled workforce and efficient transportation,” said Cohen.
“This budget supports a progressive tax plan. It simply asks some of the largest, most successful corporations in the world to pay their fair share. Investing in public schools and Connecticut’s children is never a bad deal,” Cohen said.
Research shows that investments in public education give a better return on the state’s dollars than corporate tax breaks. Supporting great schools is also the right thing to do for kids and families.
The Connecticut Legislature will hold a special session June 29-30 to debate whether to give in to corporate bullying and ditch the new progressive tax plan, which would require them to make an additional $224 million in cuts to essential services like education, public safety, and transportation.
The only possible counterbalance to the threats of a few very powerful corporations is for a great number of Connecticut citizens to reach out to the legislators who represent them and encourage them to take a stand on behalf of students and schools.
Connecticut readers: Signing this petition is a great way to start.