A coalition of activists and labor unions has written an open letter to General Electric, accusing the corporation of paying no taxes in the state of Connecticut, and commending the legislature for its attempt to increase business taxes in the recent budget bill.
A small crowd rallied by the AFLCIO and the Connecticut Working Families Party gathered Thursday outside the Hartford offices of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association to protest the recent intervention in the state budget process by GE.
"It’s shameful that General Electric, which has been around for over 100 years, and makes more money than almost every company in the world, is now complaining about paying taxes for roads, for firefighters, for police officers, for clean water," said AFLCIO spokesman David Dal Zin. "The workers at GE pay a higher percentage in taxes than the company they work for.”
Meanwhile, Tom Swan of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group accused the CBIA of dishonesty. He said the state has one of the lowest effective corporate tax rates in the nation, and that the legislature’s efforts to lower property taxes are far more relevant to the majority of businesses.
"So in order to protect General Electric’s ability to hide their profits from the people of Connecticut CBIA is going to screw the rest of their members by continuing to keep property taxes high," Swan told the crowd.
Not surprisingly, the state’s largest business organization sees it differently. CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart had an immediate response to the rally.
"This is not simply an issue about the larger companies," Stewart told reporters, "because they have a significant supply chain that deals with thousands of small and mid-size business in Connecticut, whether you’re talking about the local pizza place, the machine shop on the corner. We all care about those businesses, because they are what make our economy work."
GE, along with Aetna, has threatened to leave Connecticut over the budget issue. And other states are listening. Texas and Indiana are the latest states to reach out in a very public way to court Connecticut’s discontented corporations.