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Voices Speaking

April 25, 2019

Voices from the Capitol: Closing the budget deficit, youth in foster care

 

A Capital Gains Tax Can Help Close the Budget Deficit

Next week, committees of the General Assembly are expected to release their recommendations for the state budget. The deadline for the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to make their proposal for state revenues is Thursday, May 2. The Appropriations Committee deadline for their spending plan is on the next day, May 3. If the Finance Committee does not propose enough revenues to close the budget deficit, there may be more painful cuts to programs and services for children and families.

Our state tax system as a whole is upside down—the wealthy pay a smaller share of their income in state and local taxes than low- and middle-income people do, even though they are best able to pay more. Tax increases on the relatively small group of taxpayers at the top of the income distribution can generate revenues that would allow lawmakers to minimize harmful cuts to essential services and programs.

In our recent report, we propose five revenue options that could assure adequate revenues to support the programs and services vital to the well-being of our children and families, while enhancing the fairness of our tax system. Among them is a tax on capital gains and qualified dividends for tax filers in the top two personal income tax brackets. As we describe in our new fact sheet on our proposal, the wealthiest five percent of Connecticut residents will get a $2 billion federal tax reduction in 2019 because of the Trump tax cuts. Even after a modest, proposed capital gains and qualified dividends tax, the wealthiest would still receive a net tax reduction of $1.6 billion.

At this Friday’s Finance Committee public hearing, Jamie Mills, Director of Fiscal Policy and Economic Inclusion at Voices, will testify in favor of House Bill 7415, an Act Concerning a Surcharge on Capital Gains, which would establish a surcharge on taxpayers in the top tax bracket. For a Monday hearing of the Committee, she will also submit testimony on Senate Bill 1136, which also proposes a capital gains surcharge.

 

Protecting Youth in Foster Care

An important piece of legislation that protects youth in foster care was unanimously approved by the Connecticut House and now awaits a vote in the Senate! House Bill 6403, An Act Concerning a Children in Care Bill of Rights and Expectations and the Sibling Bill of Rights, addresses issues raised by youth in foster care in our Youth at the Capitol Day research report and forum. These youth expressed concerns that they feel disconnected from their schools and communities, value the freedom to express their own identities, and need support in exploring their identities. For more information, see our fact sheet on this bill.

 

Our Recent Publications

If you missed them, be sure to check out our recent fact sheets and reports:

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Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare
April 2, 2019

Voices from the Capitol: Make your voice heard, successes & federal updates

Make Your Voice Heard in the State Budget Process

In February, Governor Lamont released his budget proposal, beginning the process of creating a state budget for the next two fiscal years. While Connecticut faces large, projected budget deficits, the Governor avoided large cuts to most programs affecting children and families by proposing new revenues to close the deficit. The Appropriations and Finance Committees held public hearings on the Governor’s proposals and will be offering their proposals for spending and revenues.

The subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee will soon make their recommendations for their respective portions of the budget. The deadline for the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to make their proposal for state revenues is Thursday, May 2. The Appropriations Committee deadline is on the next day, May 3. If the Finance Committee does not propose raising enough revenues to close the budget deficit and avoid cuts, then the Appropriations Committee may make new, painful cuts that were not in the Governor’s proposal. Alternately, the Appropriations Committee may pass a budget that spares these cuts, but leaves the budget out of balance, without enough revenues to support their spending proposal.

To protect children and families, Connecticut must take a balanced approach to the state budget deficit that includes new revenues. Please:

  • Contact members of the subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee that have oversight of programs of concern to you. Explain why these programs are important to children and families, and who receives them.
  • Contact members of the Finance Committee and let them know that you support increasing revenues to balance the budget and protect children and families.

Recent Legislative Successes

Thanks to support from you and other advocates, these important state legislative proposals have moved forward in the General Assembly:

Protecting youth in foster care. House Bill 6403, An Act Concerning a Children in Care Bill of Rights and Expectations and the Sibling Bill of Rights, was approved unanimously by the Committee on Children and awaits a vote in the House. This bill addresses issues raised by youth in foster care in our Youth at the Capitol Day research report and forum. These youth expressed concerns that they feel disconnected from their schools and communities, valued the freedom to express their own identities, and need support in exploring their identities. For more information, see our fact sheet on this bill.

Improving health equity through community health workers. The Public Health Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 859, An Act Concerning Community Health Workers, which would establish a community health worker certification process as a step towards health equity in Connecticut. Community health workers can help to address barriers to health care and unmet needs. For more information, see our testimony on this bill.

You can find additional recent testimony on our website.

 

Federal Updates on Health and Nutrition Assistance

Affordable Care Act. As you may have read, the Department of Justice has endorsed a 2018 court ruling stating that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is unconstitutional. While Connecticut has taken steps to codify some provisions of the ACA at the state level, there are wide-reaching implications for Medicaid and the rules governing health insurance, should the entire ACA ultimately be struck down. Connecticut’s Attorney General joined 21 states in filing a brief to defend the ACA.

Medicaid work requirements. On March 27, a federal judge struck down the Department of Health and Human Services’ approval of work requirements for Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas. A number of other states have received approval to begin imposing work requirements or have submitted waiver applications with the aim of doing so. The vast majority of Medicaid enrollees already work or would be exempt due to a disability or caregiving responsibilities. However, as the early evidence from Arkansas shows, clearing the hurdle of reporting these factors is extremely difficult for many. This ruling is likely to be appealed and may eventually be heard by the Supreme Court. Work requirements have been proposed in Connecticut, but the idea has not received the support necessary to become law.  We have testified in opposition to such rules that make access to basic medical care for low-income families more difficult.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). As noted in our blog, Congress passed funding for SNAP in late 2018 without imposing the additional rules and restrictions proposed by the House of Representatives. However, these restrictions are now being proposed through regulations. Connecticut Voices submitted comments opposing this effort to reduce nutritional assistance to people who live in areas with high rates of unemployment. Comments are due by April 2 and can be submitted here.

Our Recent Publications

If you missed them, be sure to check out our recent fact sheets and reports:

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Health

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