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Voices Speaking

May 24, 2017

Some Cuts Never Heal : The President’s Budget Proposals Threaten the Well-Being of Connecticut’s Children

Sharon Langer, MEd, J.D.

 

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, health care, 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. The proposal would shift massive costs to Connecticut at a time when our state is already struggling to meet needs for education, transportation and other services. Currently, the state relies of federal funding for one-fifth of its budget.

“Slashing these programs would be both unwise and unfair,” said Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children. “Connecticut cannot afford to undermine its long-term wellbeing with program cuts that threaten the very foundations of healthy child development. We need to understand that some cuts never heal.”   

The President’s proposal includes the following cuts to key programs.

  • The budget would make deep cuts in Medicaid funding, jeopardizing health insurance and access to regular medical care for the more than 318,000 children insured through Medicaid in Connecticut—almost three out of eight children. Medicaid cuts would also endanger health coverage for the 121,000 elderly individuals in the state that rely on the program. The budget assumes these cuts would be in addition to the $880 billion in cuts from Medicaid in the bill the House recently passed to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • The President’s proposal would cut funding for the SNAP program (formerly food stamps) by a quarter, putting children at risk of going hungry and becoming sick. In February 2016, more than 233,000 households in Connecticut received SNAP; 35 percent had children.
  • The President’s budget proposal includes cuts to Social Security Disability, affecting 81,000 individuals in Connecticut, and Supplemental Security Income, with more than 64,000 recipients in the state.
  • The President’s budget provides only level funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. In Connecticut, unless funding for child care is increased, 1,600 children would lose their child care. 
Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
budget, Federal, Trump
February 6, 2018

Guest Post: February Federal Update

Deborah Stein, the Network Director of the Partnership for America's Children

This article is a guest post by Deborah Stein, the Network Director of the Partnership for America's Children. It provides some much-needed context to the issues in front of Congress this month, and how they can impact children and families in Connecticut.

Things are happening at lightning speed in DC, so here is a brief update on where things stand.

February 8 Funding Deadline

The current continuing resolution (CR) expires Thursday, February 8. Congress is not expected to reach a spending deal for the rest of the year by that deadline. The open issue remains whether to raise domestic spending (that, is the overall sequestration cap) as much as defense; the bill cannot pass the Senate without Democratic votes since it needs 60 votes to raise the sequester caps, and the Democrats are fighting for increased domestic spending. There is no indication that Congress is close to reaching a deal on sequestration caps for non-defense spending.  Once they reach a deal, they can finish up FY 2018 appropriations, probably in one giant Omnibus bill. It's not clear how much time it will take to write the Omnibus once the caps are set.

The House is currently developing a fifth stopgap funding bill to keep the government open for six more weeks through March 23, which would take it past the expected date that Congress must raise the debt ceiling. Reports say that this will be a "clean" CR, with level funding on nearly all programs and nothing attached to it such as health extenders (community health centers and home visiting) or DACA.

The House stopgap funding bill may not come out until as late as Tuesday morning, February 6th. This late release is worrisome since the Democrats have their retreat Wednesday through Friday. Moreover, it's uncertain whether this CR will be passed by the House or Senate since Democrats want a deal on DACA and the House Freedom Caucus does not want to pass any more CRs. Though a number of members of Congress have expressed confidence that there will not be another shutdown, reaching a deal on another CR is not guaranteed at this point.

Debt Ceiling

The Congressional Budget Office said this week that the U.S. will hit the debt ceiling in early March and be forced to default on its obligations unless the debt ceiling is raised and it can borrow more funds. The Treasury Department separately urged Congress to raise the limit by the end of February.

Congressional leaders have said they prefer to pair the debt-ceiling vote with other must-pass measures like the government spending bill. However, if the proposed CR passes, the government risks default if Congress waits until after the March 23 deadline of the next CR to raise the debt ceiling.

In past debt ceiling fights, conservatives have tried to tie raising the debt ceiling to changes to budget rules such as Balanced Budget proposals. It is not clear whether they will try to do that this time.

Congress Likely to Avoid Reconciliation Process in FY 2019

Reports from the Republican Retreat indicate that congressional Republicans might forgo including reconciliation instructions in their FY2019 Budget Resolution (remember, the Budget Resolution, which is not a law, sets for the rules for all budget legislation for the fiscal year, and reconciliation is the fast track process that only requires 51 votes in the Senate). They were expected to use the expedited budget reconciliation procedure to pass cuts to entitlement programs benefiting children and families, much as they used reconciliation to pass the tax bill in December 2017. There was also a possibility they would consider using reconciliation to take another shot at repealing the ACA. At this point, it looks like neither of these will happen.  This is very good news, if it proves true, and is a strong testament to the success of the fight to save the ACA and Medicaid last year.
 

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
Congress, Federal, taxes, Trump

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