Over the past two decades, a declining share of the state budget has been targeted to investments in children and families. Connecticut Voices identified the “Children’s Budget” to call attention to and to help in reversing this trend. This analysis evaluates the impact on the Children's Budget of the Governor's proposed revisions to the Fiscal Year 2015 Budget.
Overall, the Governor’s proposed budget revisions make improvements to the FY 2015 budget passed last year, modestly increasing the Children’s Budget and significantly boosting the state’s investment in early care, but partially offsetting this investment with reductions in funding to the Department of Children and Families and other areas. The proposal also responsibly commits the large majority of this year’s unexpected surplus to pay down the state’s long-term liabilities and save for a rainy day. The proposed issuance of $155 million in small-dollar tax rebates, however, represents a lost opportunity for the state to add more to the Rainy Day fund before the next economic downtown.
The Governor’s proposed budget revisions include
- Increases in funding for early care and education, with the ultimate goal of achieving universal access to pre-kindergarten. The Governor’s plan would create 1,020 new slots for low-income children.
- Significant reductions to the budget of the Department of Children and Families (DCF). This decline consists primarily of reductions in congregate care capacity, a re-estimation of caseload-driven and other expenditures, and maximized reimbursement of private residential care.
- Several notable changes with respect to healthcare, including a reduction in funding for HUSKY B, likely due to falling caseloads; increased state funding to maintain higher reimbursement levels for primary care physicians; and additional slots under the Katie Beckett Medicaid Waiver, which keeps medically fragile children at home.
As the state confronts the possibility of revenues continuing to recover in future years, it is crucial that Connecticut commit some of its new resources to increasing the state’s investment in children. An additional investment of $180 million each year for ten years would restore the priority of children in the state budget to the level it enjoyed when today’s leaders and parents were growing up.