Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Weicker Gets His Income Tax, but Citizens Fight It STATE BUDGET WOES

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Weicker Gets His Income Tax, but Citizens Fight It STATE BUDGET WOES

Article excerpt

SOME people pinned teabags to their clothes; others carried axes. One individual donned a skeleton outfit.

What sounds like an early Halloween party was actually a crowd of more than 40,000 seething Connecticut citizens who converged on the State House lawn in Hartford Saturday, yelling, whistling, and demanding that Gov. Lowell Weicker repeal the state's first income tax.

Between shouts of "Ax the Tax," and "Repeal, repeal," the riled group accused Governor Weicker, an independent, of stealing from the working class. The potpourri of people - black, white, blue-collar, and white-collar - booed him when he arrived at the capital. Teabag-wearers - signifying the colonists who protested the British tax on tea at the Boston Tea Party in 1773 - carried signs reading "Taxation without representation."

The 4.5 percent income tax took effect Oct. 1. At the same time, the sales tax was lowered from 8 percent to 6 percent, but more items are taxed. The tax plan was passed in August to close Connecticut's burgeoning budget deficit and improve the state's economic picture.

It came after months of legislative wrangling and a shutdown of the state government this summer after lawmakers and the governor could not agree on a tax and budget plan.

People here believe the income tax is unfair for several reasons. They say the flat tax disproportionately affects the poor and middle class - groups they say are already reeling from the poor economy.

Many people also claim Governor Weicker, who indicated he would not impose an income tax when he was elected in 1990, coerced other state politicians to vote for the tax. They further charge that he has given a tax break to himself and the rich by lowering the capital-gains tax. Weicker is heir to a pharmaceutical company; owns a farm in Greenwich, Conn.; and a vacation home in St. Croix.

"Weicker is getting a huge tax deduction," spouts John Peter Bigos, a doctor from New London. At the same time, "he's driving the state into bankruptcy" because any revenues the tax is expected to generate will be canceled out as people stop spending money, move away, or lose jobs.

Tom Scott, chairman of the Connecticut Taxpayers Committee, the group that organized the rally, says there is still too much waste in state government and contends spending can be reduced. …

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