Voices from the Capitol (XX): A Draconian Federal Budget

Back • May 23, 2017 • Uncategorized

In today's email:


Federal Updates: the President´s 2018 Budget Proposal

The President’s 2018 proposed budget is coming out today. Center for Budget and Policy Priorities’ President Bob Greenstein has this to say about the document:

President Trump’s new budget should lay to rest any belief that he’s looking out for the millions of people the economy has left behind. He proposes steep cuts in basic health, nutrition, and other important assistance for tens of millions of struggling, low- and modest-income Americans, even as he calls for extremely large tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations.

This disturbing budget would turn the United States into a coarser nation, making life harder for most of those struggling to get by but more luxurious for those at the very top.  Most Americans do not seek a new Gilded Age. And the budget is sharply at odds with what the President told voters he would do during his campaign. With this budget, the President betrays many voters who placed their trust in him.

In fact, this stands as the most radical, Robin-Hood-in-reverse budget that any modern President has ever proposed.

The budget proposal includes cuts to Medicaid, SNAP, Social Security Disability Insurance, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. It is hard to understate how draconian this budget proposal is; the impact on not just low-income children and families, but on the most vulnerable, is staggering.

You can read their analysis here and check our blog post about the impact of federal grants on Connecticut’s budget. Today’s piece in the CT Mirror, Trump’s Budget Would Rip Safety Net For The Poor, also has important details.   

Budget Talks and Union Concessions

Budget negotiations are underway at the Capitol, with the Governor and legislative leaders set to meet this week to start mapping a plan forward from the four proposals currently on the table. We are working on our analysis, to be published in the coming days.

The only concrete news so far this week is the report that Governor Malloy and public sector unions have agreed to a tentative deal with $1.6 billion in concessions. All budget proposals so far have included this cut. The CT Mirror has the overview.


News: Bills Moving Forward

S.B. 910 An Act Implementing the Recommendations of the Department of Education

This bill includes a variety of technical fixes for education issues. We are especially interested in some reporting changes for school discipline that will enable school districts to have a more nuanced view of school absenteeism. The bill has been passed both by the House and the Senate, and is now waiting for the Governor’s signature.

S.B. 894 An Act Establishing the State Oversight Council on Children and Families.

This bill provides additional oversight over the Department of Children and Families (DCF). It passed unanimously in the Senate and is now waiting to be called in the House. You can read our testimony here.

S.B. 126 An Act Concerning Community Health Workers

This bill establishes a statutory definition for a “community health worker” and requires the Department of Public Health (DPH) to examine the roles and responsibilities of community health workers in the state. The bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate.

H.B. 6099 An Act Establishing a Child Care Facility Neighbor Relations Task Force.

This bill establishes a task force to study strategies for the improvement of relationships between residents of child care facilities licensed by the Department of Children and Families and residents of the municipalities in which such facilities are located. The bill passed the House with wide bipartisan support and is waiting action in the Senate.


Spotlight: The Importance of the Office of Early Childhood

Several budget proposals seek to dissolve the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) into the Department of Education (SDE).

We are skeptical that this move will produce any relevant savings or make OEC programs, like Care 4 Kids, any stronger. First, the OEC was created with the aim of consolidating under one roof the dizzying variety of programs and funding streams related to early childhood in the state by creating an agency that could look at the system as a whole, blending and braiding funding streams to make more efficient use of existing resources. Moving OEC programs back to SDE would weaken this structure, and the early care and education system as a whole.

Second, although some legislators have mentioned that hosting OEC programs within other larger agencies will help protect their funding, past experience shows that they would remain vulnerable. Care 4 Kids, for instance, saw severe cuts between 2002 and 2005 under the Department of Social Services (DSS); the program closed almost completely, with enrollment dropping by half. Access to TANF funding for early care initiatives would likely prove elusive in a context of diminishing federal funding and competing priorities.

Earlier this session, we testified against other proposals that would weaken or dismantle the OEC. You can read our testimony here.



Our Families Can’t Wait Lobby Day

The Governor’s revised budget includes new, deep cuts to Department of Developmental Services (DDS) that further erode our state’s human services safety net, including sharp reductions in the ID Partnership Initiative, the closure of DDS camps, and eliminating Medicaid funded in-home supports.

Our Families Can’t Wait is hosting a lobbying date to protect low-income families on Wednesday, May 31st at 11am at the Legislative Office Building (300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT). To register, call family organizer Colleen McGill at (571) 206-7793, or email ofcw@outlook.com.

The budget cannot be balanced with cuts alone – balanced revenue must be a part of the solution. Now you have an opportunity to come and speak up.

Budget Panel at the Connecticut Town & City Association Annual Meeting

Derek Thomas, Fiscal Policy Fellow here at Voices, will participate in a panel about taxation and the spending cap at the Connecticut Town & City Association Annual Meeting on June 2nd. Other panel participants include Kevin Sullivan, Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services, William Cibes, former Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Director, Manisha Srivasrava, Budget Analyst at OPM, and Joe Brenan, CBIA’s Executive Director. Bob Santy, from the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), will moderate the panel.

The event will take place at Saint Clements Castle (1391 Portland Cobalt Road, Portland, CT), from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. Registration is required, cost is $100 per person. Email John Ward for more information.


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