If the Budget Lifts One of Us, It Can Lift Us All

By Connecticut State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo

The current proposed budget in the Connecticut General Assembly is a work in progress and is anything but finalized. However, there are a number of priorities, intended to provide potential solutions to the growing statewide income gap, that should be at the forefront of the discussion.

With a variety of goals aimed at boosting local and women-owned businesses, helping out working parents, expanding education and training programs, and making life easier on retirees living on a fixed income, we’ve set our sights pretty high, and are each, as legislators, really digging in to understand the programs and solutions being discussed.

Included among the proposed solutions are more grants and loans to grow our local businesses, funding of the Women’s Business Development Council and cutting Unemployment Insurance Taxes on Small Businesses – each of these needed now, more than ever, as we continue to recover from the pandemic.

There is a Child Care Tax Credit, which happens to be the biggest tax cut in state’s history, as well as tax cuts on the income of retirees. Expansion of the Husky program to help more families to qualify for affordable healthcare and a plan to fully fund debt-free Community College are also on the table. Increasing rates for Home Health Providers, which will improve the pay of workers who tend to be low-wage earning women, will also serve to improve services for our seniors. And a proposed restructuring of state government will save money, while expanding workforce training will help to grow and create jobs.

The median household income in Ridgefield, CT in 2019 was $135,614, which was 41.9% greater than the median annual income of $78,833 across the entire state of Connecticut. Compared to the median income of $81,179 in 2000 this represents an increase of 40.1%. The per capita income in 2019 was $83,223, which means an increase of 43.7% compared to 2000 when it was $46,843. Ridgefield also has 1.3% persons below the poverty line.

But it’s important to understand that these proposals will not only help the small percentage of those who live in our own communities who struggle from day to day. These are equitable solutions to the state-wide problems that we need to address immediately so that we can do all that we can to capitalize on the growth and progress we are currently making, and to lengthen the strides we are taking toward a healthy economy, and a more robust business environment.

In considering the budget, and all that it entails, it is not lost on me that what we do right now – particularly for those who have been so desperately underserved by previous budgetary iterations – is critical, and will affect us all, at times when we simply cannot afford another setback.

State Representative Aimee Berger-Girvalo, 111th House District, represents Ridgefield and serves on the Environment, Public Health, and Transportation Committees.

Illustration: The Helping Hand, by Émile Renouf (1881; oil)