When Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy took to the podium in February 2015 to announce his proposed austerity budget for the State of Connecticut he announced a plan in which more than half (54%) of his proposed budget cuts came from children’s programs.
More than half of Malloy’s total cuts aimed at programs to support children when, “spending on the ‘Children’s Budget’ – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget.” [CT Voices]
In response to the criticism leveled at Malloy, a recent CTNewJunkie headline explained, “Malloy Administration Pitches ‘Lean’ Government, Denies Being Heavy Handed.”
Lean government, not being heavy handed?
According to recent economic data, the nation’s wealth grew by 60 percent over the past six years. That translates into about $30 trillion of additional wealth, with the overwhelming majority of that money going to the country’s super rich.
During the same period, the number of homeless children grew by 60 percent. “For Every Two Homeless Children in 2006, There Are Now Three.” During this past winter approximately 138,000 children were defined as homeless by the US Department of Housing.
Children now account for nearly 50 percent the country’s food stamp recipients. More than 16 million children get about $5 a day to pay for their meals, but that was before Congress and the President cut $8.6 billion from the food stamp program over the next ten years.
In 2007 about 12 in every 100 kids were on food stamps. Today that number stands at 20 in every 100 children.
According to UNICEF, the UN’s agency for children, the United States has one of the highest child poverty rates in the developed world. The report explains, “[Children’s] material well-being is highest in the Netherlands and in the four Nordic countries and lowest in Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and the United States.”
And Here in Connecticut…
About 113,000 Connecticut children live in the lowest levels of poverty, or about 14.5 percent of all the state’s children…nearly one in every six children.
Connecticut’s child poverty rate is up nearly 50 percent from 2000 when the number of Connecticut children living in poverty was just over 10 percent. At the time, Connecticut became the first state in the nation to adopt an official policy stating its goal was to reduce poverty by fifty percent by 2010. Connecticut failed. Rather than reducing child poverty by 50 percent, the level of child poverty has increased by 50 percent since we entered the 21st Century.
Today the level of child poverty is more than 47% in Hartford; 40% in Waterbury; and over 32% in Bridgeport, New Britain and New Haven.
Using a more appropriate definition of poverty, living under 200% of the federal poverty level, the harsh reality is that almost 1 in 3 Connecticut children are growing up at unacceptable levels of poverty.
Yet in the face of the mounting levels of child poverty, Connecticut Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy proposed more cuts to a variety of vital programs including those that are aimed at helping the state’s poorest children.
And is budget slashing comes despite the fact that Connecticut’s wealthiest taxpayers pay a far lower percent of their income in state and local taxes than the middle class and the poor and the rich are charged a much lower income tax rate then their brethren pay in New York and New Jersey. The problem is that Malloy refuses to raise the income tax rate on the wealthy because, as he said before, he doesn’t want to “punish success.”
Connecticut’s elected officials can and must face the reality that we are failing our children. They can start by requiring the state’s wealthiest residents to pay their fair share in taxes – thereby eliminating the need for cuts to children’s programs. See – Democrats – Time to stop coddling the rich.
And as for Malloy, one wonders if his only defense is the fact that he is not alone in his disdain for truly putting children first on the political agenda…
What is perhaps the most telling point of all is that there are two nations in the World who have refused to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child — South Sudan and the United States.
[Numbers about child poverty at the federal level come from A Nation’s Shame: Trillions in New Wealth, Millions of Children in Poverty.]