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Advocates Say Budget Continues Disinvestment in Children

The Connecticut State Capitol building where legislators passed new state budget cuts of $233.6 million from critical programs for children and families. (John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons)
The Connecticut State Capitol building where legislators passed new state budget cuts of $233.6 million from critical programs for children and families. (John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons)
May 18, 2016

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The budget passed by the legislature cuts investment in children and families, undermines transparency and jeopardizes future prosperity; that's the assessment of a leading child-advocacy organization.

Ellen Shemitz, executive director of Connecticut Voices for Children, says overall, the cuts to programs that support children and families were small compared to some other program areas.

But she maintains relying on cuts alone to balance the budget was unnecessary.

"We live in a state where there are tremendous resources and there's great wealth, and in failing to tap that wealth and to access those resources, we're failing to make really significant and important investments in children," says Shemitz.

An analysis by Voices for Children shows critical programs for children and families are being cut by more than $230 million.

Shemitz adds the cuts follow on decades of state disinvestment from schools, family health, child welfare and other services.

She says legislators can bring in new revenue next year without huge tax increases, by making adjustments within the existing tax structure.

"And very importantly looking at loopholes and exceptions from current taxes, particularly with respect to tax exemptions in the sales tax area," she says.

Shemitz says all tax exemptions in Connecticut now total more than $7 billion.

She is also concerned that the state has fundamentally altered the way it will calculate this and all future budgets. Rather than starting with the cost of maintaining the same level of services, legislators will only look at what was budgeted in the previous year.

"That means, by definition, each year, even without any policy changes," says Shemitz. "The funding that's available is going to effectively shrink because costs will increase without any adjustment."

She says state investment in health care, human services and education are critical to ensuring that the children of Connecticut will be able achieve their full potential.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT