A dominant narrative regarding the continuing state budget crises is that an increase in income taxes would cause the wealthy to leave the state. There is no scientific evidence that this is true. But the bigger point is that our state government should be making public policy decisions on scientific facts. Not anecdotes. And the scientific facts are that there is not a strong link between both the level of state taxes and state tax increases on migration.
As discussions and negotiations begin around the FY 2016-2017 midterm budget adjustments this legislative session, it is critical that the state continue its deep-seated commitment to Connecticut’s Community Action Agency (CAA) Network and antipoverty efforts. For more than 50 years, Connecticut’s CAAs, the state and federal designated antipoverty agencies, have provided basic human needs services such as food, shelter, heating assistance, and childcare to limited income individuals and families in all 169 cities and towns.
I have the hard-earned privilege of being a professor at Southern Connecticut State University — a major regional educational institution whose research and teaching provide an immediate and enduring benefit to New Haven and the whole state. I am proud of my students, colleagues, and school; at the same time, I am disappointed with system politics and Connecticut’s willingness to construct a two-tiered system for its students in higher education: The University of Connecticut and everyone else.
When the budget implementer bill was presented to the House chamber during the special session on June 29, we had mere hours to read it over and realize that despite some changes made for the better, this budget didn’t do nearly enough to steer Connecticut in the right direction. Much discussion has been focused on corporations and the unconscionable unitary tax placed upon them, but make no mistake; this budget does not discriminate in regards to its negative impact upon both businesses and residents.
Much has been said about the impact of corporate tax increases on corporations that are major employers in Connecticut, and their potential relocation to more tax-friendly states. Debate on the impact on hospitals has focused on CEO compensation and past profit margins. This focus misses an important fact; the role hospitals play in training the next generation of physicians for the state.
ByKim Morgan, Merle Berke-Schlessel, Susan Dunn and Kevin Wilhelm |
As we have observed this budget debate, which seems more vitriolic than past years, we question whether there is a mechanism in place where business and government, alongside our nonprofits, can look at the social service needs of our communities. It seems that we must find new ways to work together to support our safety net while also meeting the needs of businesses that must focus on the return to their shareholders.
Apparently, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the majority of the elected representatives to the state legislature have decided that historic preservation, affordable housing, open space preservation and farmland protection and promotion of locally grown produce are no longer important to the citizens of Connecticut. If they cared about any of that, they would not be stealing any funds from the Community Investment Act account by sweeping the funds into the general fund over the next budget cycle.
On Nov. 18 of last year, Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) Secretary Benjamin Barnes stated that Connecticut “…entered into a period of permanent fiscal crisis in state and local government.” Daily news accounts confirm those words. As the budget drama continues, Connecticut’s balanced budget requirement again plays out, not a measure of the sustainability of state finances but as a game of “Whack-a-mole.” The legislature is struggling to cover expenses precisely because the state’s expenses themselves are unsustainable.
As the legislature prepares for a special session on June 29, I hope legislators and the governor understand the necessary and demanding work direct caregivers do and the need for services in the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. Preserving funding for the Department of Developmental Services is a critical first step toward building a Connecticut that works for all its citizens.
Today, the General Assembly and Gov. Malloy have an opportunity to strengthen and expand care for those in need of mental health and addiction services—not cut the floor out from under them. Connecticut should not be walking away from its commitment to treat people with mental illness and addictions.