Former state politicians recall huge anti-income tax rally 25 years later

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — This week marks 25 years since the Connecticut State Income Tax started coming out of your paycheck. Wednesday marks 25 years since tens of thousands of Connecticut residents converged on the State Capitol to loudly voice their opposition to the new tax.

It was the largest protest rally in state history and it brought more than 50,000 (one estimate put the crowd at 65,000) angry Connecticut residents to the State Capitol. With “Minutemen” dressed in American Revolutionary period uniforms firing a volley of muskets to start the rally, you might say that modern Tea Party activism began here in Connecticut 25 years ago with this rally.

After campaigning against an income tax, Independent Governor Lowell Weicker had signed one into law after a marathon summer long Special Session of the Legislature. The man who spearheaded and organized the massive rally was a former Republican State Senator from Milford named Tom Scott. He’s now a real estate agent on the Greater New Haven shoreline.

In a News 8 interview, Scott says he can’t escape his connection to the big protest.

“I do my best to keep a low profile, but I’ll be pumping gas or something and somebody will role down their window, it happens several times a month; ‘Hey I was at the big rally,” Scott said.

According to Scott, the reason so many people turned out is because average middle class working people were the ones that were most affected. Lower income people would not pay the tax, and the eight percent sales tax was cut to six percent.

The wealthy got a huge tax cut by the elimination of the ‘Dividends and Interest Tax’ that was then as high as 11 percent.

“According to the national ‘Taxpayers Union; [it was] the largest anti-tax rally in the history of America,” said Scott.

“After I became Governor, and we enacted the Income Tax, the state was in the black,” former Gov. Weicker told News 8 in an exclusive interview.

Related Content: Gov. Weicker speaks one-on-one on 25th anniversary of Income Tax

Weicker now says the balanced books he left behind have all been squandered.

“All of those who cursed me, including…the representatives, John Rowland, everybody went ahead and spent all the money,” he added.

But Scott says that’s exactly what he and other said would happen at the rally. And he says that the Income Tax continues to take a toll on the state’s reputation.

“The lack of an Income Tax 25 years ago was an incentive for people to stay here, to come here and for employers to expand here. We’ve now lost that,” added Scott.

There have been bigger political events around the country, but Scott says there’s never been so many people coming together for the sole purpose of saying ‘taxes are too high.’

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