Unhappy with Connecticut’s proposed budget, demonstrators gathered outside the mansions of Ray Dalio and Steven Cohen
Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, this time with a side of dissent.
About three dozen demonstrators descended on the mansions of Connecticut’s 0.01% over the weekend to protest Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy’s new budget, which includes jobs cuts and changes in pension funding. As part of the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Shameless” tour, protesters—many of whom work in the area—left mock tax bills at the ritzy homes of hedge fund bosses like Ray Dalio and Steven Cohen, asking them to pony up over $1.2 billion between both of them.
“Income inequality is out of control in this country, and particularly in that part of Connecticut,” says Lindsay Farrell, executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, a progressive group that organized the protest. She tells Moneyish that the contrast is especially jarring in Connecticut, where Bridgeport, with its racially concentrated and relatively poor population, neighbors wealthier and whiter enclaves like Greenwich and Norwalk.
The demonstrators are particularly peeved with the $1.5 billion in wage and pension cuts that Malloy is asking Connecticut residents to swallow, which they say disproportionately targets low and middle income workers. The governor says that the cuts are necessary to reduce the $1.3 billion state budget deficit, while protesters are calling for it to be met by ending a loophole that effectively allows investment managers to pay lower income taxes. (Reps for Dalio and Cohen didn’t immediately return requests for comment.)
Macaulay gets invoiced! pic.twitter.com/NjKn4TQPhT
— CT Working Families (@CTWFP) March 25, 2017
According to the Guardian, the demonstration was largely a low-key affair carried out in good humor, with the crowd singing chants like “Hey hey, ho ho, tax loopholes have got to go.” But the billionaires weren’t immediately moved. “They didn’t come out and say hi,” says Farrell, who argues that “it doesn’t make sense to protect their wealth the way we do [when] they have billions and make investments that hurt our economy.”
Connecticut didn’t have an income tax until the early 1990s and critics say hiking taxes on the wealthy would lead them to leave the state, further narrowing a tax base that is heavily dependent on high earners. For instance, two billionaires departed the state for warmer weather and lower taxes in Florida last year to much brouhaha.
“Governor Malloy did not include increases in the personal income…tax rates in his budget proposal for the simple reason that it does not make policy or financial sense,” says Chris McClure, a Malloy spokesperson, adding that the top 1% of Connecticut tax payers account for 35% of tax liability. Connecticut has the second highest concentration of millionaires among American states, with many of them financial professionals who like its proximity to New York City,
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