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EXCLUSIVE: Sacred Heart Institute Director on Why CT Residents Are Unhappy With the Budget

February 9, 2018 By Staff
EXCLUSIVE: Sacred Heart Institute Director on Why CT Residents Are Unhappy With the Budget

Reclaim Connecticut talked to Dr. Lesley DeNardis, the director of Sacred Heart University's Institute for Public Policy, on the university's new poll of Connecticut residents.

A majority of Connecticut residents were “dissatisfied with the state legislature’s budget” passed last year, according to a new poll released by Sacred Heart University (SHU)’s Institute for Public Policy, and it’s because the budget “didn’t address key issues” like K-12 education, pensions, and infrastructure.

That was the top takeaway from SHU’s latest poll of Connecticut residents, according to Dr. Lesley DeNardis, the executive director of SHU’s Institute for Public Policy.

“Only 20 percent of the residents poll were satisfied with the budget,” DeNardis said. She added that “a variety of tax hikes and fees associated with [the budget]” likely contributed to its lack of popularity.

Also a factor in dissatisfaction? That the budget is already in deficit.

“In the wake of the budget proposal, we had immediate revelations that the state was already incurring a $245 million, or roughly $265 million deficit,” DeNardis said. So it “didn’t really strike to the heart of a lot of our underlying fiscal issues.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

When asked by Reclaim Connecticut of what SHU will explore in its next poll, which could be released around mid-March of 2018, DeNardis said they want to explore the above issues that Connecticut residents felt were not addressed by the latest budget.

“We want to take a deeper dive into some of the issues raised in these first two polls … what is happening in terms of K-12 education?” DeNardis said.

“We’re interested in seeing more state government looking more seriously at the question of pensions,” DeNardis added, saying pensions are the “single biggest driver in terms of the budget deficit.”

Also important to SHU? The quality of life in Connecticut.

“We’re looking to continue to poll, consistently, on a quarterly basis … some questions regarding quality of life.”

RAY OF HOPE?

Despite Connecticut residents’ concern over high taxes, and their disapproval of the state budget, DeNardis found a few reasons for optimism in the budget.

“The objective conditions in the state of Connecticut … are really no different than they were in the state of Connecticut,” DeNardis said, but “that number [of people leaving the state] has decreased somewhat.”

Another “silver lining”? Connecticut residents are still generous. DeNardis noted there’s a high amount of faith in non-profits in the state, and that Connecticut residents still plan to give to charity, despite the high cost of living here.

Reclaim Connecticut will update our readers when the next iteration of SHU’s poll comes out.