Opinion: The time for CT Baby Bonds is now

Back • Publication Date: May 18, 2021 • Fiscal & Economics

At Connecticut Voices for Children we focus our research, policies and movement building on the intersectional issues of affordable housing, criminal justice, fair employment and tax reform because we know that a child’s well-being is rooted in their family’s economic security. We have been the most vocal this legislative session on the expansion of the state earned-income tax credit and creation of a state child tax credit. However, another critical proposal that centers equity, breaks generational cycles of poverty, and promotes long-term economic growth in Connecticut is State Treasurer Shawn Wooden’s CT Baby Bonds proposal.

There couldn’t be a more critical time to enact CT Baby Bonds.

The state’s racial income gap is the greatest it’s been since the 1980s and the racial wealth disparities are even worse. The median income for households in the state is roughly $76,000 a year; however, for the median Black and Hispanic households in Connecticut, the pre-tax income is less than $48,000 and $46,000 a year, respectively. The number of Connecticut households with zero or negative net worth is more than 21 percent; for Black households it’s more than 34 percent and for Hispanic households it’s more than 51 percent.

By creating a savings account for every Connecticut baby whose birth is covered by HUSKY, the CT Baby Bonds proposal would narrow the racial wealth gap, which studies have shown will spur economic growth. After a child reaches the age of 18 and completes the necessary requirements, the proposal would allow the funds to be used for post educational purposes, to invest in a business in Connecticut, to purchase a home in Connecticut or to contribute towards retirement savings.

Our latest research found that more than 50 percent of Connecticut households with children reported a decrease in income since the pandemic began, and more than one in four households with children in Connecticut reported being behind on rent payments — about one-fifth of Black and Hispanic households reported being behind on rent payments compared with one-tenth of white households. Nearly 20 percent of Black and Hispanic households with children reported being food insecure, and Black and Hispanic households were 17 percent and 30 percent more likely than white households to report a member had canceled their postsecondary education plans.

CT Baby Bonds will help millennials regardless of race and ZIP code.

As the youngest working generation during the Great Recession of 2007-2009, millennials lost 13 percent of their earnings between 2005 and 2017, compared to 9 percent for Generation X and 7 percent for baby boomers. While the U.S. was largely recovering from 2010 to 2016, many millennials actually lost ground in wealth accumulation, and by 2016, the median wealth of households headed by older millennials remained 34 percent below where it should have been based on how well older generations were doing at the same age. Now, compound all of this in the context of today.

You may be asking yourself, “Why should I care about millennials?” Well, for starters, this generation is currently, perhaps more so than in any other year, making a choice on whether or not it’s worth it to stay in Connecticut — they’re the generation that’s raising and birthing children or thinking about doing so. This matters because these families are the state’s rising and future thinkers and doers, and not least, taxpayers who will ultimately support our state. The question we should be asking ourselves is, “What will happen if we don’t help millennials right now?”

Now is the time to pass H.B. 6659: An Act Concerning the Establishment of the Connecticut Baby Bonds Trust.

CT Baby Bonds are designed to address some of the greatest challenges of our time. Coupled with other groundbreaking bills, these actions are big and bold enough to meet the moment. Investments in our state’s children and families should be paramount because our future depends upon their success. I urge the Legislature to continue leaning into the courage that they’ve displayed to date as they center equity in their actions by voting in support of CT Baby Bonds, and if we’re serious about Connecticut being a desirable state for families to root and grow here, Gov. Lamont should sign the bill into law.

Emily Byrne is executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, a statewide research based advocacy organization.

Authors: Emily Byrne, M.P.A. •  Source: CT Post • View

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