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Voices Speaking

June 1, 2017

Voices from the Capitol (XXI): four budget proposals

In today's email:

 

New Report: Our Analysis of Connecticut’s Budget Proposals

Connecticut’s budget is the clearest statement of its policy priorities. As such, it should prioritize revenue and expense options that advance long-term inclusive economic prosperity, improve equity, and prepare our children for success.

In our new policy report, we compare the budget proposals from the Governor, Democratic legislators, House Republicans and Senate Republicans. Our conclusion: all four adopt an unbalanced approach that fails to address Connecticut’s long-term structural challenges.

The four budget documents include deep cuts to the Children's Budget, the share of the state budget dedicated to programs and services that directly impact children. All four proposals would shrink the Children's Budget to record-low levels, continuing the cuts seen in recent years. The Children’s Budget would decline from 32.8% in 2008 to under 29% in 2019 under the Governor, Democrats and House Republicans´ proposals, or still a record-low 29.3% for Senate Republicans.

You can download the full report here.

Please note: this report was completed before Senate Republicans put forward a new budget proposal. We will release an addendum in the coming days with more details.

 

Action Alert: Tell Your Legislators - Support New Revenue

Call your legislators and tell them that we need a balanced budget approach that includes new revenue.

The state budget is a reflection of our priorities – what we think it is important as a state, and what we want to accomplish. Recent budget proposals shift our focus away from creating opportunity for children. Many of the budget cuts will have long-term negative effects for both children and families, and the state as a whole.

It is time to take action and tell our legislators that we need a balanced approach that seeks new revenue by modernizing the sales tax system and requiring greater scrutiny of business tax breaks. By doing this, Connecticut can raise critically needed revenue and ensure stability to the revenue system to support our priorities.

Click here to contact your legislator.

 

News: Federal Updates

The President’s Budget Proposal

President Donald J. Trump introduced his budget proposal last week. Ellen Shemitz, our Executive Director, put forward the following statement:

President Trump’s budget proposal represents a major threat to Connecticut’s economic prosperity, inflicts severe cuts to the programs that serve the most vulnerable children and families in our state, and could dramatically worsen the state’s current fiscal crisis.

The proposal slashes nutrition, healthcare, and other important assistance that helps hundreds of thousands of Connecticut residents meet basic living standards – food on the table, a roof over their heads, and access to health care – while giving new tax breaks to the wealthy and powerful and undermining the long term economic growth and prosperity of the state.

You can read the rest of our statement on the President’s budget proposal here.

Three-fifths of the cuts put forward in this proposal target programs for low- and moderate-income people. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has the details.

 

The Impact of the American Health Care Act

Last week the Congressional Budget Office published its latest analysis on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill. Their conclusion is that the AHCA would leave more than 23 million people without health insurance, increase out-of-pocket costs for older Americans, and dramatically weaken protections for people with pre-existing conditions in many states.

The AHCA represents, in practical terms, a very large tax cut for high-income people, eliminating the excise taxes and penalties included in the ACA. The tax cut is paid for by a very large reduction of health coverage for low- and middle-income families. The legislation would dramatically cut Medicaid funding, ending expanded federal funding, and imposing a per-capita based cap on payments, as well as reduce tax subsidies to purchase insurance.

The AHCA, as currently written, would shift $7 billion in Medicaid costs to Connecticut, resulting in thousands losing coverage. If passed, the AHCA would greatly worsen the state’s ongoing budget crisis. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has the details in this policy brief.

 

More News: Bills Moving Forward

H.B. 7309 An Act Concerning Human Trafficking

This bill increases the penalties for sexual trafficking with minors, making commercial sex abuse of a minor a class B felony. The bill was approved by the House unanimously two weeks ago, and was passed with an unanimous vote by the Senate last week. Once the Governor adds his signature, it will become law.

S.B. 954 An Act Concerning the Development of a Plan for Universal Preschool

This bill instructs the Department of Education and the Office of Early Childhood to develop a plan to implement a universal preschool system in Connecticut by 2022. The bill just passed by a wide margin in the House (103/46) after passing unanimously in the Senate, it will now go to the Governor for his signature. As we mentioned in our testimony, we applaud the intent of the bill and fully support making preschool universal, as long as care for infants and toddlers is also prioritized.

S.B. 912 An Act Concerning Revisions to the Staff Qualifications Requirements for Early Childhood Educators

The bill allows early childhood educators that graduated in regionally accredited schools to teach in Connecticut. We supported the initiative. The bill just passed the House after a favorable vote in the Senate, and will now be sent to Governor.

S.B. 1040 An Act Concerning Notification to Boards of Education and Local Police Departments of the Release of a Juvenile Sexual Offender.

This bill will require the judicial branch to report the school superintendent of the town where a juvenile resides after he or she is convicted of a sex offense. The bill passed the Senate, and is awaiting a vote in the House. We oppose this proposal. Although the bill was amended to include some added privacy provisions, there is still great risk that this confidential information could result in harmful bias and stigmatization. As we explained in our testimony, the proposal does not reflect current research or best practices on how to address juvenile sex offenses.

 

Spotlight: The Earned Income Tax Credit

In our new policy brief, we look at Connecticut's Earned Income Tax Credit, its effectiveness, and how it is under threat.

Connecticut's Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is among the state's most sensible and effective tools for helping working families in low-wage jobs. When layered on top of the federal credit, the EITC has boosted 6,600 individuals above the poverty line and eased poverty for another 99,000. Yet, it is slated for reduction in all four budget proposals under consideration at the statehouse.

In the report, we talk about how this approach hurts low income workers, their children, and the communities in which they live.

You can download the policy brief here. Click here to see town-by-town data.

 

Events:

Budget Panel at the Connecticut Town & City Association Annual Meeting

Derek Thomas, Fiscal Policy Fellow here at Voices, will participate in a panel about taxation and the spending cap at the Connecticut Town & City Association Annual Meeting on June 2nd. Other panel participants include Kevin Sullivan, Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services; William Cibes, former Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Director; Manisha Srivastava, Budget Analyst at OPM; and Joe Brenan, CBIA’s Executive Director. Bob Santy, from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), will moderate the panel.

The event will take place at Saint Clements Castle (1391 Portland Cobalt Road, Portland, CT), from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Registration is required, cost is $100 per person. Email John Ward for more information.

 

What We Are Reading/ Listening to

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Health

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