Testimony on S.B. 1054 & H.B. 7322 Appropriations Committee

On behalf of the National Association of Social Workers, Connecticut chapter representing over 2700 members we call upon the Finance Committee to present a balanced approach to funding the state budget that includes expanded revenues from current sources and new revenues.

We are in support of raising the personal income tax on high end income earners as this offers greater progressivity to the current income tax structure in Connecticut. At a time when the state faces a horrific budget deficit that if closed by spending cuts alone will devastate social services, education, local aid and health care programs, it is only fair to ask those in our state who are economically doing best to assist in funding programs for those who are in need. Life can rapidly change. The fortunate today can become the less fortunate tomorrow. Assuring adequate safety net and community services is essential and can only be maintained if new revenue sources are built into the biennial budget.

We support the establishment of a mental health community investment account that allows taxpayers to voluntarily contribute any part they choose of their income tax return. There is a significant need for community based mental health services. For example 20% of children will need mental health services at some point in their childhood. The earlier we can intervene with mental health services the greater savings to the state in money due to increased costs to help individuals at a later and more severe stage of their illness. This investment fund is an investment in improving the lives of many residents. We do however caution that the funds collected must not be used to supplant current or future state allocated funds; these funds must be strictly used as additional funding.

NASW/CT does not support increasing the sales tax as this will impact on lower income households the most. We do however support expansion of the sales tax to selected services and items that are now exempt. A widening of the base will bring in increased tax revenue without having as much of a disproportionate effect on low and moderate income households. Such an approach would allow for the sales tax to be slightly reduced and still bring in increased revenues over current revenue.

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