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Where Does State-Budget Gridlock Leave Kids?

Where Does State-Budget Gridlock Leave Kids?

In an unenviable position. You might call it kidlock.

In terms of equity, Connecticut’s FY 2018-2019 children’s budget … the share of state spending on children and families … reached a record low, declining to 27.8 percent of the overall budget. The reason is obvious: in an effort to address the state’s crushing debt load, money was cut from other budget line items, including children’s programs. Perhaps necessary, but still unfortunate for the many Connecticut children who will not otherwise have a chance for an even start in life.

“We can’t just cut our way out of our financial problems, and we can’t just tax our way out of them either.  There’s no magic pill to solve this.”

In a January 30 session at the state capitol, Connecticut Voices for Children spoke out about dwindling funds allocated to helping Connecticut kids grow up healthy, smart, and prepared to support families, and provided an in-depth look at the fiscal challenges and opportunities facing the state.

Presentations covered some of the most pressing budgetary issues before the state legislature this session, including surging pension costs, the declining Children´s Budget, and fundamental tax reforms, as well as new fiscal restrictions that could continue to negatively impact funding for children’s programs in the future.  State Comptroller Kevin Lembo noted that a mixture of policy changes would be needed to resolve the state’s financial issues:  “We can’t just cut our way out of our financial problems, and we can’t just tax our way out of them either.  There’s no magic pill to solve this…it’s more complex than that.”

CT Voices for Children offered the following policy recommendations:

  • Protect the Care 4 Kids child care assistance program, which helps  parents work while nurturing children and preparing them for school.
  • Protect HUSKY health coverage and codify in state law the protections of the Affordable Care Act to ensure that children, parents, and pregnant women have access to quality health care.
  • Restore the state Earned Income Tax Credit to 30% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit as part of a response to regressive tax changes at the federal level.
  • Support policies that allow children to thrive in their homes and communities, including the JJPOC Community Based Diversion Plan and the creation of a collaborative Child Welfare Oversight body to promote cross-agency support for children and families involved in the child welfare system.
  • Modernize the sales tax by expanding the base to apply broadly to all goods and services, requiring an explicit rationale for any exclusion, exemption, or credit.
  • Reform the volatility cap to smooth out fluctuations in investment income tax revenue while preserving the ability to include tax rate changes as a tax reform and modernization.
  • Repeal the bond lock provision of the FY 2018-2019 state budget: a provision that ties the hands of future legislators to change the spending cap, volatility cap, and bond cap provisions, and in so doing limits the ability of the state to meet the critical needs of children, families and communities and threatens the long-term economic competiveness of the state. Read more about the consequences of not fixing the bond lock.

Liberty Bank Foundation fully supports education (from pre-school on up) as a way of creating a more self-sufficient citizenry that can contribute to the overall financial health of the state. State investments in children and families are vital to Connecticut’s future.  Want to get involved in advocating for the children’s budget? Go to CT Voices for Children for more.