Connecticut Education Association StatementFebruary 1, 2017
Voters Send Clear Message: Invest in Public Schools, Create New Revenue System
Blueprint for a budget that works for all of us
Fed up with continuous budget deficits, Connecticut voters want their state legislators to take action and create a budget that works for all of us—but not on the backs of our children and families.
According to a new survey, voters say improving Connecticut's future means investing in public schools and creating a new, fairer tax system that keeps taxes low for the middle class and asks corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share.
"Voters want to protect public education, children, the economy, and jobs, and they do not want these priorities to be undermined by the next state budget," said CEA President Sheila Cohen. "This is the first time we have heard directly from voters regarding how they want Connecticut to handle the state's fiscal crisis, and their concerns should be used as the foundation for moving forward."
Cohen continued, "As the governor prepares for his budget address next week, he should protect the priorities of the people who elected him and create a budget that works for all of us, including our families, children, and seniors."
The survey of 500 Connecticut voters, conducted by Lake Research Partners, found that investing in quality public schools is the top priority for voters. Seventy-eight percent said investing in quality K-12 public schools in all communities is a very important part of making Connecticut a better place.
Other top priorities for voters include keeping taxes low for the middle class (73 percent) and working to attract and keep small businesses (73 percent).
New revenue sources
The majority (63 percent) of voters say the best way to get the state out of the continuous deficit situation and meet the needs of Connecticut's residents is to find new sources of revenue by reforming the tax system to make it fairer for all, even if it means raising taxes for some. In fact, 81 percent are convinced that the best course of action is for the state to fully restructure the sales, income, property, and corporate tax systems.
"As the governor and legislators face the new economic reality of our times, they must have the courage to create a bold, new revenue reality that will sustain Connecticut and its citizens without cutting the vital services we all depend on," said CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg.
Voters want legislators to tackle the problem by creating a fair revenue system and do not want the state to balance the budget on the backs of our children by closing public schools, laying off thousands of teachers, and increasing class sizes.
"Connecticut has underfunded our public education system to the tune of more than $700 million per year, for far too long. It is time to stand up, do what is right for our children, and create a new revenue system that will allow the state to fulfill its obligation to properly fund our public schools so that all of our children have the resources they need to succeed," said Cohen.
In addition to creating a new tax system that is fair to the middle class, the methods that voters favored to balance the budget include:
- Making corporations pay their fair share in taxes (86 percent)
- Increasing the sales tax on tobacco and alcohol (82 percent)
- Closing big business tax loopholes (80 percent)
- Raising state income taxes on individuals making more than $500,000 per year (79 percent)
Voters do not want lawmakers to raise the state sales tax (81 percent) or cut education spending (76 percent).
"Connecticut deserves a budget that works for all of us by investing in our public schools, protecting taxpayers, and creating a revenue stream that can sustain our needs today and in the future," stressed Waxenberg. "These are tough times, and lawmakers have difficult decisions to make, but education must not be a sacrificial lamb in order to balance the budget."
Cohen agreed, "The budget must invest in public education, not cut or divert funds away from our most vulnerable citizens, our children. Their future—and the future of Connecticut—depends on it."
The Connecticut Education Association represents 43,000 teachers in Connecticut.