So much is working against the state of Connecticut at the moment — a sluggish economy, an aging populace, slow job growth, and a dramatic disparity in residents’ economic equality — and it all plays out in the state’s budget. There’s just not much wiggle room to adequately address existing needs, especially when facing a $1.7 billion deficit.
Proposed give-ups, cost shifting, and line-item consolidations touch all constituencies, but in many cases remove life-lines for residents least able to sustain themselves.
Who can pick up the slack? Nonprofits are traditionally the ones expected to fund the major uncovered needs in life — affordable housing, food, jobs training, healthcare, and education. But in this climate, they can’t absorb the difference if certain programs are abandoned, underfunded, or consolidated into block grants. Many of them are operating on bare-bones budgets already.
What’s at stake? Ever-increasing economic disparity. Here’s an example: An early childhood care and education program is cut from the state budget, affecting 2,000 three-year-olds. Losing that one year of schooling has lasting effects. A well-known study reveals that adults who attended a quality early childhood program ultimately earned up to $2,000 more per month than those who did not. They are also more likely to graduate from high school, to own homes, and have longer marriages. Those who don’t attend these programs are more likely to drop out of school, become involved with the criminal justice system, and utilize government assistance as adults. So is this really a cost savings?
Here’s the other part of the equation. If low-income parents can’t access state subsidies for child care, they may have to make choices between caring for their children and working. And that means there will be less income available for the necessities of life for that family–especially if it’s a single-parent household.
Every budget program elimination affects real people, and has a farther reaching impact than simply one year of lost child care and education. And in many cases, cuts now will lead to higher costs to taxpayers down the road.
Liberty Bank Foundation is committed to equitable, inclusive and sustainable economic growth for Connecticut and all its residents–especially those who are most vulnerable. If you would like to know more about proposals designed to create opportunities for education, jobs, and our cities, check out the Connecticut Association for Human Services agenda.