State and local governments account for the bulk of public spending on infrastructure. Infrastructure investments can ensure that we do not leave future generations a deficit of underinvestment and deferred maintenance of public assets. Such investment can create jobs and lock-in genuine full employment in the near-term and provide a needed boost to productivity growth in the medium-term. Large, sustained increases in infrastructure investment can increase aggregate demand and productivity growth, which provides the potential ceiling on how fast average income can rise.

Smart public investment should put the needs of the public first and should not undercut workers’ wages.


Impact of the Governor’s FY 2019 Budget Adjustments on Children and Families

  • February 20, 2018
  • Connecticut Voices for Children
  • Ray Noonan, Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., Ellen Shemitz, J.D., Karen Siegel, Camara Stokes Hudson, Nicole Updegrove, and Jane McNichol, J.D.

Connecticut’s long-term fiscal health depends on an economy that benefits all families, businesses, and communities. To achieve this objective, the state needs a strategic budget that balances investment with fiscal responsibility. In this report, we find that the Governor’s latest budget proposal would move Connecticut away from these goals. Under the Governor’s plan, the Children’s Budget, the share of state spending devoted to children, would drop to 27.2 percent, a historic low, down from 27.8 in the budget approved last November.

The Governor’s budget includes significant cutscompared to the biennial budget approved by the General Assembly last October. The proposal would reduce spending in health and human services by 3.9 percent, K-12 education by 3.3 percent, early care and education by 2.6 percent, and higher education by 1.7 percent. The report warns that fixed costs (pensions, debt service, and retiree healthcare), although slightly lower than in the previous year, will continue trending upward, potentially further eroding these programs.

In addition to the present budget cuts, the Governor’s budget fails to address the impact of four fiscal restrictions inserted into the budget implementer during closed-door negotiations. The combination of a newly defined spending cap, a bond cap, a volatility cap, and a bond lock diminish this flexibility, tying the state’s hands and making it more difficult for Connecticut to make the strategic investments necessary to promote equitable opportunity and inclusive economic growth.

The report calls on the General Assembly to prioritize repealing or amending these fiscal restrictions.Furthermore, we urge policymakers to modernize the state’s revenue system, eliminating loopholes and broadening the tax base, and to invest in Connecticut’s future, with a focus on child care, education, and healthy child development.

How Vulnerable is Massachusetts Transportation to Federal Spending Cuts?

A high-quality transportation system is important for our quality of life and the strength of our economy.1 Our state and federal governments work together to fund the construction and maintenance of our roads, bridges, rails, and public transit systems. In the coming months Congress is expected to debate proposals that could destabilize this partnership. This fact sheet examines the extent to which the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and transit agencies across the state rely on federal sources of revenue for their operations and capital investment. It describes the federal grants that are most vulnerable to near-term budget cuts and how larger sums of federal transportation funding could face cuts after 2020.

In general, most federal transportation funding to Massachusetts is more vulnerable to budget cuts in the longer term than the short term. Most immediately, federal cuts could eliminate or curtail some programs that have awarded grants to Massachusetts in the past for transportation improvements and expansions, especially for public transit and rail. Over the longer term, a lack of sustainable revenue for the federal transportation trust fund imperils the larger federal support provided for Massachusetts investment in highways, transit and other construction and repair projects.

Building a Strong Economy: The Roles of Education, Transportation, and Tax Policy

Effective economic policies can expand opportunity and improve the economic security of working families. When everyone in the workforce has access to the education and training needed to reach their full potential, the productivity of those workers and the overall economy improves. When a state has high-quality transportation infrastructure, the economy is also more productive because goods can more easily get to market, employees can get to work more quickly, consumers can more easily reach vendors, and less money is wasted by overdue repairs.

Improving the quality of the education our children receive and the transportation infrastructure our economy relies on requires up-front investments for long term pay-offs. Determining whether and how to raise revenue for these long term investments is a critical challenge for state policy makers. This paper analyzes the evidence on the short and long term effects of investments in the education of our people and in improving our roads, bridges, and public transit systems. It also examines the effects of tax policies that could fund these investments. Currently in Massachusetts the highest-income households pay the smallest share of their income in state and local taxes. We examine the evidence on the likely economic effects of tax reforms that would bring the overall level of state and local taxation for very high-income households close to that of other residents.

Successes of Construction Careers

In 2008, a coalition of community members, faith leaders, workers, and labor leaders passed the nation’s first Construction Careers Policy. This policy approach aimed to increase workplace standards in publicly-funded construction projects and increase access to quality construction careers for communities struggling under the weight of poverty and chronic unemployment. The policy met these goals by coupling a Project Labor Agreement with a targeted hire program.

Six years and six victories later, the success of the Construction Careers Coalition represents a new way forward in public investment and accountability. This report will outline the successful Construction Careers approach, the groundbreaking victories of this partnership, and the benefits to workers, community members, and taxpayers.