- Early care and education: Governor Malloy’s proposed budget demonstrates much needed movement toward a more coordinated and consolidated early care and education system, merging some programs and funds into the State Department of Education. His FY 12 Care4Kids funding falls $5.8 million below the level appropriated in the previous fiscal year. For many early care and education programs, the Governor has proposed that funding be kept at or above projected FY 11 levels.
- Health: Governor Malloy has proposed several major changes to the HUSKY Program that are likely to improve access to care and health for Connecticut’s children and families, such as moving children and families on HUSKY into a non-risk model of care, offering Medicaid coverage for medications and other services to help smokers quit, and upgrading the Department of Social Services computerized eligibility system. However, the Governor has also proposed imposing co-payments on services for some children and most adults in HUSKY A (Medicaid), reducing coverage for non-emergency dental care and eyeglasses for adults, delaying implementation of medical interpretation, and eliminating independent performance monitoring in the HUSKY Program.
- Education: The Governor’s budget keeps municipal grants for education at a roughly constant level. The largest grant, the $1.89 billion Education Cost Sharing grant will remain at the FY 2011 level. While the governor proposes keeping the Excess Cost Grant for special education costs constant, special education costs are increasing rapidly, meaning that districts will have to pay for an increasing share of special education. The governor proposes a cut of $4.5 million from the previous year’s Priority School District grant and reducing the public school transportation grant by 10%. The Governor proposes keeping funding at current services level for magnet schools, charter schools, and the Open Choice program.
- Child welfare & juvenile justice: During his budget address, the Governor expressed support for continued implementation of “Raise the Age” legislation, which will place seventeen year-olds in the juvenile court system. He proposes cuts of $30.3 million from the current services level for the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Most of these savings would be achieved by limiting or removing inflation-related increases in foster care and adoption subsidies and residential payments. One proposed reduction that is troubling is a recommended $1.75 million decrease in Family Support Services and the elimination of recently created $1 million program for homeless youth. A proposal that is of great concern is the elimination of 7 out of 9 positions within the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), the “watchdog” agency with statutory authority to provide independent oversight and monitoring of the care and protection of the state’s children.
- Family economic security: The budget’s most significant family economic security proposal is the adoption of a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Under this credit, low- and moderate-income working families would have their state income taxes reduced by an amount equal to 30% of the EITC received on their federal returns, potentially resulting in a maximum of $1,700 for families with three or more children. If a family’s state income tax liability is less than the amount of the credit, the family would receive the remainder in the form of a refund to offset other state taxes and fees (such as the sales tax). The EITC has long been considered to be pro-growth and among the most effective anti-poverty policies, affecting positive employment effects and reducing the taxes of low-income families. The EITC also provides economic stimulus by putting money into the hands of people who will spend it in the local economy.
This brief summarizes the impact of the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2012 state budget on a variety of programs and services for Connecticut children.