February 2018

Impact of the Governor’s FY 2019 Budget Adjustments on Children and Families

Ray Noonan, Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., Ellen Shemitz, J.D., Karen Siegel, Camara Stokes Hudson, Nicole Updegrove, and Jane McNichol, J.D.

Connecticut’s long-term fiscal health depends on an economy that benefits all families, businesses, and communities. To achieve this objective, the state needs a strategic budget that balances investment with fiscal responsibility. In this report, we find that the Governor’s latest budget proposal would move Connecticut away from these goals. Under the Governor’s plan, the Children’s Budget, the share of state spending devoted to children, would drop to 27.2 percent, a historic low, down from 27.8 in the budget approved last November.

The Governor’s budget includes significant cuts compared to the biennial budget approved by the General Assembly last October. The proposal would reduce spending in health and human services by 3.9 percent, K-12 education by 3.3 percent, early care and education by 2.6 percent, and higher education by 1.7 percent. The report warns that fixed costs (pensions, debt service, and retiree healthcare), although slightly lower than in the previous year, will continue trending upward, potentially further eroding these programs.

In addition to the present budget cuts, the Governor’s budget fails to address the impact of four fiscal restrictions inserted into the budget implementer during closed-door negotiations. The combination of a newly defined spending cap, a bond cap, a volatility cap, and a bond lock diminish this flexibility, tying the state’s hands and making it more difficult for Connecticut to make the strategic investments necessary to promote equitable opportunity and inclusive economic growth.

The report calls on the General Assembly to prioritize repealing or amending these fiscal restrictions. Furthermore, we urge policymakers to modernize the state’s revenue system, eliminating loopholes and broadening the tax base, and to invest in Connecticut’s future, with a focus on child care, education, and healthy child development.

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