January 2014

Introducing the Children's Budget: Part II of the Shifting Priorities Series

Wade Gibson, J.D.

Over the past two decades, Connecticut has committed less and less of its state budget to young people.  Spending on the “Children's Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – has dropped from 40% of the state budget in Fiscal Year 1992 to 30% in the current budget year (FY 2014).  This report examines how overall funding for programs aimed at children and families in health, human services, and education has shifted in recent decades as a share of the state budget.

This study tracks funding for agencies devoted specifically to young people (such as the State Department of Education) and programs larger than $10 million in other state agencies that benefit children and their families (such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). It also finds that:

  • Spending on education has fallen by about a third -- from 26% of the state budget to 19% between Fiscal Years 1992 and 2014.
  • The mix of funding has shifted toward debt service and fringe benefits for state employees, increasing from 17% to 26% of the state budget over this period.  The increases in this category have been driven by healthcare costs for current and former state employees, as well as substantial state borrowing.

The Children’s Budget stands today at $1.8 billion below where it would be if Connecticut budgeted for children’s programs at the same share of the budget as in FY 1992. Restoring this Budget over the next decade will require phasing in an additional $180 million each year for children’s programs. That $180 million would represent less than 1% of the General Fund.

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax