Budgets reflect public priorities. Our elected officials fund what they value. But do their concerns reflect public priorities? A series of Connecticut Voices for Children reports have documented the troubling shift of state investments away from children over the past generation. Over the last two decades, spending on children’s programs has declined from 40% of the state budget to 30%. If Connecticut budgeted today as it did in the early 1990s, the state would invest about $1.5 billion more in children’s programs on an annual basis—enough, for instance, to be the first state to implement a universal early care and education system. At a time of rising child poverty and diminishing opportunity, the state’s declining support runs contrary to need and equity. Our new, online, interactive visualization tool allows users to track the hundreds of separate decisions that together have resulted in reduced support of children and families; once we understand the numbers, we can raise our voices to reverse an alarming trend.
Using this interactive budget resource, users can create their own graphs of historical trends—and embed them in social media, blog posts, news articles, and reports. Users, for instance, can compare the dip in state support for K-12 education to the even steeper drop in support for higher education—and then share it on their websites and Facebook profiles.
Detailed budget visualizations for Fiscal Years 1990 through 2015 are available for the following areas:
- Overall Children's Budget
- Early Care and Education
- K-12 Education
- Higher Education
- Children's Health and Human Services
- Debt and Fringe Benefits
Our aim in providing this resource is to enable others to look more deeply at Connecticut’s troubling disinvestment in young people and to share what they learn with others. Our workforce is aging and shrinking. How can we expect the next generation to provide the workforce talent and leadership necessary if we do not address existing (and growing) obstacles to opportunity? It is time Connecticut reverses a generation of public disinvestment to close the unfair opportunity gap facing our children.