Whether it’s expanding access to education and health care, rebuilding roads and cities or making taxes fairer, leaders have many ideas to reduce wealth inequality and promote prosperity. But they remain uncertain about how to solve this crisis while Connecticut simultaneously grapples with a historic debt burden that also threatens its future.
For nearly a decade, it has been the favorite argument of those opposed to higher state taxes for Connecticut’s wealthy — migration. Simply put, if you tax them, they will leave.
But is it true?
Not being able to afford a home in a suburban community is a common problem for many of Connecticut’s low-income residents, particularly people of color, because of the state’s longstanding and widespread lack of affordable housing. This disparity in the availability and quality of housing is one of the chief forces of division in modern society and both a cause and effect of poverty, experts say.
While the overall health care system in one of the nation’s wealthiest states ranks high, hundreds of thousands of low- and middle-income residents are struggling to afford coverage or seeing their earnings gobbled up by a system with outcomes as disparate as income is in Connecticut.
While Connecticut’s distressed cities often are perceived as having bloated budgets, the wealthy suburbs easily outspend their urban neighbors on a per capita basis, sometimes by margins nearing two-to-one. More importantly, shrinking state aid, a lack of revenue diversity and an over-reliance on a regressive property tax system threaten to widen tremendous disparities that already exist between Connecticut’s poorest and richest communities. Second in a series.
The growing gap between Connecticut’s richest and poorest citizens, which already outstrips that in most other states, has widened dramatically since the last recession. While only the most affluent households improved their standing, the rest lost ground. How to address this inequality and a crushing state debt at the same time will be at the core of Connecticut’s political debate for years to come. First in a series.