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Voices Speaking

May 8, 2018

Juvenile Justice Reform Must Maintain Its Focus on Prevention

Lauren Ruth, Ph.D.

A month ago, as a result of decades of juvenile justice reform, Connecticut celebrated the landmark closing of the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS), its last large juvenile prison. Instead of a secluded facility far from youths’ communities, Connecticut will now rely on a network of smaller facilities that are informed by childhood and youth development. The closure of CJTS should not be viewed as the end of juvenile justice reform, but rather as a shift in the state’s approach to juvenile justice to one that asks how we can work towards preventing youth from ever seeing the inside of a prison cell.

Prevention, evidence-based programs, wrap-around services, and community supports for at-risk youth and their families can greatly reduce juvenile justice involvement. Preventative efforts are more cost-effective than relying on expensive court proceedings, and they help to open pathways toward responsible citizenship and opportunity for the youth they serve.

 

Although the Connecticut state legislature and all the executive agencies involved share a strong commitment to focus on prevention, the transition from CJTS to a more community-based system is at risk of failing to support these youths. A mix of unclear budgetary priorities, insufficient funding, and obstacles in collaboration might derail the state´s best efforts.

CJTS was extremely costly to operate, so with its closure the Department of Children and Families (DCF) will save a substantial amount of money in the long run. The state planned to shift this funding to cover the costs of establishing the kind of community-based services and facilities that are both cheaper to run and are more effective.

A quirk in the budget process, however, puts this at risk. With the closure of CJTS, policymakers shifted most of the funding that DCF used to operate the facility, in addition to some services for justice-involved youth, to the Court Support Services Division (CSSD), an agency within the Judicial Branch. The problem is that a significant amount of the savings have either gone elsewhere or have been cut outright, leaving prevention services badly underfunded. 

Both state agencies can and have run excellent juvenile justice programs in the past, making great strides towards reducing juvenile incarceration and responding to the needs of youth offenders with excellent programs that have become national models. Because of the budget cuts, however, many of these programs and initiatives that have made Connecticut a national leader in Juvenile Justice now lack adequate budgetary resources to operate.
Among these services are the Juvenile Review Boards, local community-based diversion initiatives that many towns and cities rely on for restorative juvenile justice work. These services also include evidence-based therapies that support children and families struggling with substance abuse and behavioral challenges before these children become involved with the courts through arrest.

At its height, CJTS and the Pueblo Unit for Girls cost DCF over $30 million a year to run, but the latest budget proposals shift $17 million to CSSD to establish both new secure facilities for youth with challenging needs and the services to help meet these needs, all of which is needed. This shift leaves DCF without the approximately $7 million they need to fund prevention efforts for at-risk youth. It is crucial that the General Assembly helps ensure that the closure of CJTS, an undisputed achievement, does not become a failure caused by unexpectedly overburdening the new justice system by leaving prevention behind.

Connecticut’s past successes in juvenile justice reform allow for the rightsizing of our justice because our policies to date have been focused on reducing the school-to-prison pipeline and racial and ethnic disparities in arrests while opening avenues to restorative justice and opportunity. But rightsizing is just that—reducing what is no longer necessary and optimizing investments. By adequately funding both prevention and services for youth with the most complex needs, Connecticut can ensure a brighter future for today’s children and tomorrow’s workforce.

 

Issue Area:
Juvenile Justice
May 4, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: A Call to Action - The Clock is Ticking on the Bond Lock

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

Legislative Priorities

The Bond Lock

The Bond Lock continues to be our main focus - and with the final day of the session less than a week away, the need for action becomes more and more urgent.

The good news is that the House of Representatives debated the bill that delays most of the Bond Lock Tuesday evening (H.B. 5590), including a new amendment introduced by Representative Rojas and Senator Fonfara. The bad news is that the bill did not receive a vote. Legislators have assured us that the bill is not dead and they are continuing negotiations.

Time, however, is running out. The Bond Lock is an untested legislative provision that can completely upend the budget process for more than a decade. It has the potential to crowd out investments in children, family well-being, and economic development and will have implications that extend long after the Bond Lock expires. The General Assembly must act now to prevent this legislative provision from severely undermining its fiscal authority for more than a decade, creating a cloud of uncertainty over Connecticut’s budget.

The newly introduced amendment moves the bill in the right direction, but still falls short of a full delay. It postpones implementing the Bond Lock for a year on three of the fiscal restrictions - appropriations cap, spending cap, bond cap - instead of just two, but it will still include a promise not to change the volatility cap in bonds issued after May 15th this year. The amendment also reduces the length of the bond covenant requirements from ten years after first bond issuance to five years, and excludes some additional bond types from including a Bond Lock covenant.

Although the amended bill would be an improvement, it is not enough. Connecticut Voices for Children urges legislators to consider a delay of the Bond Lock without exceptions, or a full repeal of the Bond Lock.

Call to action: Speak Up Against the Bond Lock

The Connecticut General Assembly is slated to vote on H.B. 5590, "An Act Concerning Covenants and the Bond Issuance Cap."

H.B. 5590 would not fully repeal the existing Bond Lock; rather, it would partially delay implementation. Under this proposal, bonds issued after May 15, 2018, would include a covenant locking in the volatility cap. Bonds issued after the end of the session (July 1, 2019, onwards) would lock in the spending, appropriations, and bond caps.

While an improvement over current law, further change is needed. We are calling legislators to amend the bill to:

  • Delay the effective date of all provisions of the Bond Lock until July 1, 2019.

  • Study and issue a report on the impact of the Bond Lock, with a committee hearing on the same, prior to the new effective date.
     

We urge you to join us in requesting the passage of an amended bill. Inaction is not an option, for existing law poses real threats to our state. If implemented, the Bond Lock would:

  • Risk billions of dollars in cuts to social services and other crucial programs for children and families in the state.

  • Create uncertainty regarding Connecticut's fiscal health, potentially damaging our credit rating and increasing our borrowing costs.

  • Leave Connecticut powerless to respond to emergencies. We do not know what the federal government is going to do regarding funding. We don't know if a natural disaster is coming. With the Bond Lock, we do know that we cannot address any of these challenges without facing serious penalties.

Other Legislative priorities

 

Bills that we support:

S.B. 323 An Act Requiring Notice Prior To The Transfer Of A Child To A New Placement. A bill that emerged from our “Youth at the Capitol” event, it passed the Senate on consent last week (that is, unanimously). It is currently waiting action on the House Calendar. Thank you to Sen. Formica and Sen. Suzio for raising and championing this bill in the Senate. We hope that Rep. Urban and Rep. Zupkus will do the same in the House.

H.B. 5210 An Act Mandating Insurance Coverage Of Essential Health Benefits And Expanding Mandated Health Benefits For Women, Children And Adolescents.The House amended the original bill, passing it on a 114-32 vote. It is currently on the Senate calendar. We thank Sen. Scanlon for his leadership on this bill.

S.B. 455 An Act Concerning Minority Teacher Recruitment. The bill passed the Senate yesterday on consent, with substantial proposed amendments. The amendments to this bill are mainly favorable, including the requirement that local school boards collect and report to SDE on the demographics of applicants to positions that require an education certification and the development of alternative routes to certification for Veterans, Charter School Educators and Paraeducators with Bachelor's degrees. It is currently on the Senate Calendar.

 

No movement yet:

S.B. 256 An Act Concerning Racial and Ethnic Impact Statements. This bill is on the Senate calendar.

H.B. 5415  An Act Concerning The Collection And Usage Of Health Equity Data. This bill is on the House Calendar.

H.B. 5517 An Act Concerning Executive Branch Executive Priorities. This bill is on the House calendar.

H.B. 5449 An Act Concerning The Administration Of Certain Early Childhood Programs And The Provision Of Early Childhood Services By The Office Of Early Childhood. Tabled for the House Calendar.

 

Bills we oppose:

H.B. 5328 An Act Concerning The Admissibility Of Admissions, Confessions And Statements By Children Under The Age Of Eighteen. This bill is on the House Calendar. Unless legislators vote on it along with a currently uncalled amendment, we oppose its passage.

H.B. 5445 An Act Concerning The Development Of Policies Regarding The Provision Of Alternative Educational Opportunities For Expelled Students By Boards Of Education. This bill is also on the House Calendar. You can read our testimony here.

S.B.453 An Act Concerning Classroom Safety and Disruptive Behavior. This bill is on the Senate Calendar; read our testimony here.

S.B.316 An Act Establishing A Child Care Facility Neighbor Relations Task Force. This bill is on the Senate Calendar. Read our testimony here.

S.B. 486 An Act Concerning Notification To Boards Of Education Of The Release Of A Juvenile Sexual Offender And A Model Policy Concerning The Reentry Of Such Juveniles Into The School System. Also waiting on the Senate calendar. Read our testimony here.

 

Analysis: Budget Proposals

First, the good news: tax collections are up by close to $2 billion, potentially making the General Assembly’s task of balancing the budget much easier. However, most of that surge in revenue will go into the Budget Reserve Fund, not the General Fund, following the new volatility cap rules. The CT Mirror has a good overview of the causes of this revenue surge, and how state agencies predict that the large increases will not continue over time.

The General Assembly, meanwhile, continues its work on the budget. On April 20, the Appropriations Committee and legislative Republicans put forward their proposals to modify the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget adopted last October. We analyzed both plans in our new budget report, comparing them to the Governor’s initial proposal. Our conclusion was that all three budget plans struggle to promote policies that support opportunity for all children and families, despite restoring some program funding, and that they do not increase revenues significantly. You can read the full analysis here.

Following the newly revised higher revenue estimates, Republicans released a revised budget document on Wednesday. We are currently going over the details, but the CT Mirror has a good overview here.

The Bond Lock under this Budget Proposals

Neither of the legislative budget proposals address the Bond Lock or include any changes to this legislation. Both plans breach some of the budget rules that the Bond Lock would cement into place for the next decade, highlighting the need to rethink its application. The funding in the Appropriations Committee bill exceeds the spending cap limit, while the Republican proposal breaches the volatility cap, using some of the additional revenue to fund the budget rather than  the Budget Reserve Fund. As we discuss in our budget analysis:

Getting around the volatility and spending caps this year may not be too heavy a lift, but the fact that both parties seek relief from the fiscal restraints they enacted just a few months ago should give pause to those who want to lock in the restraints through the use of broad bond covenants. While fiscal restraint is advisable, some amount of agility is necessary for unexpected circumstances. In the coming years, federal laws may decrease or delay Connecticut’s Medicaid funding. Natural disasters may bring evacuees to Connecticut, as did Hurricane Maria. The Bond Lock would make responding to these or other unforeseeable challenges much more difficult, if not impossible.

In Case You Missed It: Bond Lock Op-Ed

CT by the Numbers published this weekend an op-ed by Associate Policy Fellow Ray Noonan and Fiscal Policy Fellow Rachel Silbermann about the threat that the Bond Lock represents to Connecticut´s long-term fiscal health.

Connecticut’s future lies in opening new pathways to economic growth and opportunity for businesses, families, and communities. To achieve these goals, Connecticut needs a predictable and coherent fiscal policy that enables lawmakers to make the strategic choices that can spur economic growth. Unfortunately, a set of fiscal restrictions added to the budget in the final hours of negotiations last year might bring significant uncertainty on future fiscal policy and leave legislators unable to respond to current and future crises.

The fiscal restrictions – spending cap, bonding cap, volatility cap, appropriations cap, and Bond Lock – place a set of rules to guide Connecticut's fiscal policy. When well-designed, fiscal restrictions can help create a strong foundation for the state´s budget practices, enabling legislators to focus on forward-looking investments to generate opportunity and spur economic growth. When hastily designed, however, restrictions may constrain fiscal policy to the point of making it wholly ineffective.

You can read it here.

Federal Update:

The new Farm Bill is slowly moving forward in Congress. After a favorable vote in the Agriculture Committee, the House plans to vote on the bill next week. The proposed legislation has many problems, and would greatly increase food insecurity for low-income families that rely on this program. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities´analysis is clear:

The nutrition provisions of the farm bill that the House Agriculture Committee passed on April 18, if enacted, would increase food insecurity and hardship. The proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) would end or cut benefits for a substantial number of low-income people.

SNAP is the country’s most effective anti-hunger program, helping 1 in 8 Americans afford a basic diet, with most SNAP participants being children, seniors, or people with disabilities. Despite providing modest benefits — averaging about $1.40 per person per meal — the program combats food insecurity, alleviates poverty, and has long-term positive impacts on health as well as on children’s educational attainment. The Committee’s proposal would reduce SNAP’s effectiveness and put large numbers of families and individuals at increased risk of hardship.

Read the full report here.

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice
April 23, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: The Final Stretch

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

Bond Lock Updates

With less than three weeks remaining before the end of session, we issue a call for united action to repeal or delay implementation of the bond lock: an untested legislative mandate that would create nearly insurmountable hurdles to our state’s economic revitalization, long-term prosperity, and shared opportunity.  

Thanks to your support, we can celebrate some progress. The General Assembly is considering H.B. 5590 An Act Concerning Bond Covenants and the Bond Issuance Cap: a bill that would delay implementation and require study of the Bond Lock.The Finance Committee voted in favor of the bill and referred it to the Legislative Commissioners Office. Now it is under review by the Office of Legislative Research and the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the last step before getting a file number and landing on the calendar.

H.B. 5590 is a tremendous step forward, but it requires further revision to extend its study and delay provisions to the volatility cap, as well as the spending cap and bonding cap. “Locking in” the new volatility cap, which is not drafted according to best practices followed by other states, may jeopardize Connecticut’s already tenuous bond credit ratings. We need to work together to build support for legislative passage of an amended bill. We urge you to visit our website to download some of the new resources we have prepared. You can direct interested partners and legislators to our Bond Lock display at the LOB cafeteria (until the end of April). You can watch our presentation about the Bond Lock here, and you can download the posters here.

Breaking News: Budget Proposals

Late breaking news this afternoon regarding the state budget. Both the Democratic leaders of the House Appropriations Committee and their Republican counterparts released their budget proposals today.

Both Democratic and Republican plan reverse several of the budget cuts in the current budget, relying in part on the unexpectedly high income tax revenues coming in this year. The revenue increase has been large enough to actually go over the volatility cap (one of the fiscal restrictions included in last year´s budget that we fear the Bond Lock might set in stone), so it is unclear if and how legislators might use the money to close this year´s deficit. The CT Mirror has two good pieces on this issue here and here.

Democrats are set to vote on their plan today, although it is unclear if they have the votes. As usual, we will have a deep dive analyzing both budget proposals in the coming days.

What to Expect at the End of the Session

The legislative session officially ends on May 9 at midnight. With committee hearings done, the legislative work moves to the full House and Senate chambers. For the first 2-3 weeks, the General Assembly will largely take up non-contentious bills--proposals that have solid bipartisan support. Work on the budget and on more divisive bills continues behind closed doors until closer to the end of the session, when the House and Senate will begin to bring to the floor legislation that generates more debate and is harder to pass. The Bond Lock legislation will likely come to a vote closer to the end of session.

Other Updates: Bills Moving Forward, Bills Defeated

Right now, most of the bills we track are still going over the legislative process, so we only have one update:

H.B.5450 An Act Concerning The Staff Qualifications Requirement For Early Childhood Educators just passed the House unanimously. Although Connecticut Voices for Children opposed the initial version of this bill, which would have lowered the required certification for early childhood educators in state-funded classrooms from a bachelor’s degree to an associate’s degree, the Education Committee introduced substitute language that delays the education requirements, something we support.

Legislative Jargon: the House and Senate Calendars

As we enter the home stretch of the legislative session, it is useful to revisit some of the jargon and procedures of the General Assembly. Before a bill comes to a vote in both chambers, there are four terms that will come up: “file number,” “business on the calendar,” the “go list,” and “markings.” Let's see what they mean.

  • File number: This is the number that a bill gets once reported out of committee, printed, and sent to the floor. This means that the bill is ready for consideration by both houses. A bill might end up having two or three file numbers - if it is amended in the House, the Senate, or receives substitute language in another committee, it will get a new one.
  • Business on the Calendar: A list of all the bills that are waiting for a vote in either the House or the Senate. Bills get a calendar number when placed there; the lower the number, the longer the bill has been sitting on it. A bill needs to sit on the calendar for two days before being ready for action. Once it has sat for two days, it gets two little stars by its name.
  • Go List: The list of bills that the House intends to take up that particular day. Bills on the Go List might not get to a vote if debate on other bills on the list takes too much floor time.
  • Markings: The equivalent to the “Go List” in the Senate. The list is not posted in writing, but read aloud in the chamber.

New Brief: HUSKY Caregiver Cuts, by Town

In 2015, Connecticut reduced the income eligibility limits for parents and caregivers enrolled in HUSKY A (Connecticut’s Medicaid program for children and their relative caretakers) from 201% of the federal poverty limit (FPL) to 155% FPL. In 2017, a further reduction to 138% FPL ($34,638 for a family of four) means that as of January 2019 approximately 13,522 parents and caretakers will lose access to HUSKY A insurance coverage.

Many families cannot afford to purchase health insurance on the regulated health care exchanges, even with subsidies and limits on cost-sharing. Even if they can, families often experience reduced services and out-of-pocket costs. Over 78% of parents/caregivers who lost coverage in the first round of cuts have no known health insurance.

In this policy brief, we detail the coverage reductions, with data on the number of caregivers affected by the 2017 HUSKY eligibility reduction by town.

You can also download the impact of the cuts by legislative district here.

Federal Update: Farm Bill and SNAP

The House Agriculture Committee is starting to debate the 2018 Farm Bill, a key piece of legislation for nutrition assistance programs. This bill contains the funding and regulations for SNAP ( formerly food stamps), one of the most important anti-poverty programs in the country.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities just published an excellent report on the new proposal. Their main takeaway:

The nutrition provisions of the farm bill that House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway plans to bring before his committee on April 18 would, if enacted, increase food insecurity and hardship. The proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) would end or cut benefits for a substantial number of low-income people.

The bill will likely need significant changes to pass the Senate, but the initial proposal is worrisome. Click here to read the full report.

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice
April 16, 2018

Happy Tax Day!

Rachel Silbermann, Ph.D.

Happy Tax Day!

Connecticut Voices for Children believes that tax day offers a chance for us to reflect on the “why” and “what” of taxes. Simply put, democratic societies cannot function without fair, transparent, and adequate tax systems. By paying taxes, we contribute to our community, state, and nation, and it’s thanks to our taxes that our government can work for us. Tax day offers us the chance to celebrate some of the ways our taxes contribute to the high quality of life in Connecticut:

Even as we celebrate what our taxes support, we can also pause this tax day to reflect upon how we can improve the tax system and address the significant disparities in our state. Our tax system works best when everyone pays their fair share. The new federal tax law gives massive breaks to special interests, with the wealthy receiving the lion’s share of the tax cut in almost every state. In Connecticut, the majority of the tax cut will go to those with incomes above $250,000. Cuts like this have consequences, with the new federal changes creating a projected deficit of more than one trillion dollars, giving rise to calls for cuts to some of the very programs and services we value most: like health care and clean air and water.

On this tax day, take pride in doing your part. Remember that we can act at the state level to create stronger, fairer economies and cleaner tax codes, with the goal of having more dollars to spend on the public services that ensure meaningful opportunity for all of our residents. #ProudToPay #TaxDay

 
Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
budget, Connecticut, fiscal, Good News, Tax day
April 11, 2018

Bond Lock News Update

Rachel Silbermann, Ph.D.

Connecticut Voices for Children would like to express our deep appreciation of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee, which approved a bill on Thursday that would partially delay implementation of the “Bond Lock.” The bill would also initiate a study of how the Bond Lock might affect Connecticut’s economy.  

The Bond Lock stipulates that whenever Connecticut issues a bond for a two-year period beginning in May, it must vow not to alter three new spending restrictions included in the bipartisan budget passed in October. Notably, none of these restrictions had public hearings to fine-tune the language and mechanisms. This covenant limits the state’s ability to address both existing and unanticipated challenges and threatens state investments necessary to build thriving communities. Because bonds are considered contracts, Connecticut will be legally bound to maintain these spending and revenue restraints despite what future Governors or legislatures find to be in the best interests of the state.

We applaud the bill for delaying the implementation of the covenant for two of the three caps, - the spending cap and the bond cap - and requiring a study of their potential impact. Further action will be needed to amend the bill and build legislative support for passage. We will send additional information once it becomes available.

Delay or repeal of the bond lock remains Voices’ top priority this session.

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
bond lock, budget, delay, fiscal, spending cap
April 5, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: Bond Lock and Revenue Options

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

Key Bill This Week: The Bond Lock

On Monday, Ellen Shemitz, our Executive Director, testified in front on the Finance and Bonding Committee about H.B. 5590 An Act Concerning Bond Covenants and the Bond Issuance Cap.

The bill seeks to change the Bond Lock, a fiscal restriction included in last year's budget agreement. H.B. 5590 would partially delay its implementation. Under this proposal, bonds issued by the state after May 15, 2018 would include a covenant locking in the state’s volatility cap. Bonds issued after the end of the session (July 1, 2019 and onward) would lock in the spending cap and bond cap.

We commend the legislature for addressing this issue, but we believe that the potential impacts of the Bond Lock warrant a broader delay for further consideration. Connecticut Voices for Children supports HB 5590 with the following proposed amendments:

  1. Delay the bond lock’s application to the volatility cap until July 1, 2019
  2. Establish a Commission to study the bond lock and associated fiscal restrictions in depth and report back to the legislature by March 1, 2019.

Call to Action: The Bond Lock

We urge you to join us in requesting passage of an amended bill. Inaction is not an option. Existing law poses real threats to our state. If implemented, the Bond Lock would:

  • Risk billions of dollars in cuts to social services and other crucial programs for children and families in the state.
  • Create uncertainty regarding Connecticut's fiscal health, potentially damaging our credit rating and increasing our borrowing costs.
  • Leave Connecticut powerless to respond to emergencies. We do not know what the federal government is going to do regarding funding. We don't know if a natural disaster is coming. With the Bond Lock, we will know that we cannot address any of these challenges without facing serious penalties.

The Finance Committee has until tomorrow Friday, 4/6/2018, to vote on H.B.5590. Contact your legislators today and ask them to act on this bill and break the bond lock.

Do You Want to Learn More?

The Bond Lock is a provision included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019 budget aimed at restricting changes to Connecticut's budget rules. It stipulates that whenever Connecticut issues a bond for a two-year period beginning in May, it must vow not to change three new spending and revenue restrictions—the spending cap, volatility cap, and bond cap— for the life of the bond (typically 10 years) except in extraordinary circumstances.

Because bonds are considered contracts, Connecticut would be legally bound to maintain these spending and revenue restraints despite what future Governors or legislatures might find to be in the best interests of the state. Any effort to break the covenant would invite litigation and risk significant penalties.

The fiscal restrictions that the Bond Lock cements into place all have significant flaws, threatening state investments necessary to build thriving communities. By making it virtually impossible to change any of these restrictions for more than a decade, the Bond Lock limits the state’s ability to address both existing and unanticipated challenges, today and into the future.

For more information about the Bond Lock, download our Bond Lock FAQ. You can also watch our presentation on the Bond Lock here.

Other Updates: Bills Moving Forward, Bills Defeated

The committee work is coming to a close, with the legislative debates now moving to the House and Senate floor. The vast majority of the bills that did not receive a vote in committee are no longer in play (they can come back as amendment to other bills, but that is fairly unusual), so the list of proposed legislation we are currently tracking has narrowed down considerably. We are currently revising our priority list, and will offer a more in-depth take on our top remaining priorities in our next newsletter.

Here are some updates on some of our key priorities:

In Case You Missed it: Revenue Options

Connecticut´s prosperity depends upon smart public investments in high-quality schools, reliable roads and bridges, and adequate infrastructure. To make these investments, we need a stable, balanced, and predictable budget that raises sufficient funding without undermining economic growth or closing pathways to opportunity.

In our new report, we analyze a wide range of possible tax changes geared towards two primary goals. First, making the overall tax system less upside-down, so low-income families no longer pay a higher share of their income than wealthy residents. Second, making the overall tax system more conducive to economic growth, by simplifying and broadening the tax base to raise adequate revenue.

We offer revenue proposals in four separate areas:

  • Strengthening Connecticut´s corporate tax system, eliminating loopholes and ineffective tax breaks
  • Reforming wealth and income taxes, increasing the capital gains and dividends tax and restoring the estate tax exemption
  • Modernizing the sales tax system, broadening its base and taxing internet sales and digital downloads
  • Introducing public health-supporting taxes on sugary drinks and tobacco products
     

Click here to download

Federal Update: Census Questions and Health Updates

Two important sets of federal updates this week. This week in our blog, Karen Siegel provided an overview of a slew of federal initiatives:

“As Connecticut races toward legislative deadlines, the federal government has been crafting important new legislation that impacts children and families on matters ranging from food security to gun violence. Here is a brief update on three important issues—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Public Charge, and gun legislation—together with three things you can do right now to raise your voice for children.”

In addition, the US Census has decided that for the first time in decades that the 2020 census will include a question asking about citizenship status. This has the potential to make the Census considerably less accurate, with far reaching implications on issues from federal spending to congressional district maps. Arloc Sherman, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, explains:

“The Trump Administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census will not only reduce responses by immigrants and thereby make the count less accurate, experts say, but it also could trigger new costs that offset part of the added census funding that the President and Congress just provided.”

The New York Times also had an excellent overview of the ramifications of adding this question, especially for communities of color. Several State Attorney Generals, including Connecticut’s George Jepsen, are challenging this decision in court.

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice

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