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Public Policy Update: April 24, 2015

With less than six weeks remaining before the conclusion of the 2015 Connecticut General Assembly’s Legislative Session, most of the legislative committees have filed their proposed bills to be considered by the entire State House and Senate. Much of the focus now shifts to the budget-writing Appropriations Committee and the tax-writing Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee which are responsible for developing a tax and spending plan in response to the proposal offered by Governor Malloy in February.

With a projected $1.3 billion budget deficit looming, Governor Malloy’s budget proposal included major cuts to vital social services, family support and education programs that support children and families and disproportionately impact the most vulnerable. This budget includes proposals to completely eliminate a number of successful programs that received their initial support from the Hartford Foundation. Many of the largest reductions are in early childhood and K-12 education and would represent major setbacks to the progress that has been made in these areas over the past several years.

While legislators have expressed their concerns about these cuts, it remains to be seen what they will do in their budget and spending plans to restore the funds needed to maintain these initiatives. The Hartford Foundation has submitted testimony to the Finance Committee to encourage legislators to maintain reliable funding streams to vital programs for children and families. The Foundation testified that this effort is crucial to continuing the important progress made in the last year in building a high-quality, coordinated early childhood system and supporting K-12 schools to ensure that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn and graduates from high school prepared to succeed.

The Foundation urged legislators to reconsider Governor Malloy's proposed budget that includes nearly $600 million in budget cuts, most of them disproportionately impacting children and families including:

  • $49.3 million from the HUSKY health insurance program for children, families and pregnant women;
  • $11.3 million from the Office of Early Childhood; and
  • $158.0 million from the State Department of Education.

In the metro Hartford region, these cuts impact:

  • Over 100,000 pregnant women and parents enrolled in HUSKY A;
  • About 75,000 children under age six; and
  • Over 47,000 students attending eight Alliance District schools, the region’s lowest performing schools.

The Foundation asked legislators to make Connecticut’s greatest resource for future progress and prosperity – our children – a top budgetary and policy priority. It is expected that the Appropriations and Finance Committees will release their proposed budget and revenue plan early next week. Once that work is completed, legislative leadership from the House and Senate will begin budget negotiations with the Malloy administration in an effort to reach a compromise plan that can be supported by the House and Senate and signed by the Governor before midnight on June 4.

The Foundation will continue to identify opportunities to advocate on behalf of the children and families in our region as the legislative session continues and, through our ongoing work with state agency leaders and policymakers, once the budget is passed and new legislation is being implemented.

Read the full testimony here (PDF)

 


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