As we’ve discussed on our blog the last two days, there are mechanisms built into the budgeting process that put programs for children and families at particular risk when funds are scarce. Without new revenues, the growing cost of paying down past debts is making in difficult to maintain adequate investment in children and families. In this third post, we’ll briefly wrap this series up by discussing why Connecticut can’t let other spending crowd out investments in children and families, and talking about some ways to get involved.
Connecticut must pay its debt obligations, but the State has an obligation to its children and families too – an obligation to ensure that no child wants for basic needs, every child has access to needed healthcare, and every child receives a high quality education. This intergenerational exchange is the lifeblood of a strong society – if we renege on this debt to our children, we put them at risk for a lifetime of poverty, illness, and economic hardship. At the same time, we put the economy of the state as a whole at risk, as we undermine workforce preparedness and sow the seeds for increased costs in incarceration and joblessness.
Over the last 30 years, Connecticut has become a much more unequal state. When we allow public investments in children’s healthcare and education to erode, we run the risk that more children will be shut out of economic opportunity simply because of the circumstances of their birth. All children should have the opportunity to succeed: not only those of a particular race, ethnicity or zip code. The State has good reason to be trying to get our fiscal affairs in order, but that’s no reason to make kids foot the bill – one way or another, we need to ensure that Connecticut continues to make adequate investment in children and families.
At Connecticut Voices for Children, we believe information is power; we hope that tools like the Children’s Budget can help empower you to stand up for kids when the Governor releases his budget proposal on February 18th. If you want to partner with us on advocacy this session, check out our policy agenda. Sign up for our e-mail newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. You can also tell policy makers that you support investments in families by contacting them directly and tweeting about the importance of protecting children in the budget with our hashtag: #somecutsdontheal. Tell policymakers about your own experiences – the importance of your local school, or health clinic, or how other public investments in families have made a difference in your life. If you would like to take a closer look at the budget yourself, there are many useful documents on the website of the Legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis. And of course, we welcome your questions and insights in the comments section below.