February 17, 2011; Source: ConnecticutPlus.com | The Connecticut State Association, citing three years of cuts coupled with increased service needs, has urged the state to continue to exercise restraint and discernment in cutting service organizations. Ron Cretaro, the executive director of CT Nonprofits, said in a press release, “We are glad the Governor recognizes that the state cannot cut its way out of this deficit and has proposed significant new revenue options to help avoid far-reaching cuts to vital programs.”

Governor Dannell Malloy has proposed a budget that balances cuts with tax increases including an increase in the state income tax and a .25 percent increase in the sales tax to be applied to a collection of previously tax-exempt services like Yoga, cosmetic surgery and nonprescription drugs. A popular $500 property tax exemption will be eliminated and those buying cars that cost more than $50,000 will have to dig a little deeper to come up with a 3% surcharge. The revenue from these and many more tax hikes will amount to $1.5 billion next year. The Governor, however, has balanced the tax increases for those at the lower end of the spectrum with a state based earned income tax credit – a measure which 24 other states have already instituted.

Cretaro of CT Nonprofits is still expressing caution, saying, “We are…concerned with some of the proposed reductions to several Medicaid-funded services for the poor and the overall impact that has on the well-being of nonprofit clients and consumers who utilize these services.” Liza Andrews, the public policy director of CT Nonprofits added, “While the Governor has not proposed sweeping cuts to provider services, we continue to caution lawmakers that making broad cuts to successful programs instead of targeted cuts to programs that aren’t working will only cost the state more money in the long run.”

A public taking of positions on even potentially contentious issues such as the raising of taxes is critical right now. Helping to right size state budgets and fighting for the right priorities within them has to be the immediate business of everyone in this sector. —Ruth McCambridge