One Connecticut lawmaker wants to start a bank account for every baby born in our state.
Representative Geoff Luxenberg of Manchester said his goal is to put an end to generational poverty so a child’s destiny isn’t driven by their zip code.
“We don't think fortune should drive the future for children,” Luxenberg explained.
His idea is to give every child a $2,500 bond when they're born, and another $1,000 each year after until they turn 18.
“I think it's a great idea. There's a lot of families that don't have access to resources and children need support. I think especially during the pandemic it's shown a lot of holes in our system,” said Emily Seifert of Middletown.
A similar baby bonds program has been proposed on the federal level. The government-run “American Opportunity Account” would set children up with $1,000 when they’re born. The federal government would deposit up to $2,000 in the account each year until the child turns 18 based on family income.
There's still a lot to work out in Luxenberg’s draft bill, including how the state would pay for the program.
“As admirable as it is to want to level that playing field to provide all children with an equal starting point I think before we consider something like that we have to get through now,” said Rep. Holly Cheeseman, of Waterford.
Cheeseman, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said getting the state and its residents out of the financial difficulties created by the pandemic should be the legislature’s top priority.
“If we’re helping babies what are we doing for our elderly who are having trouble paying for their houses?” she asked. “We have so many conflicting demands and competing demands on our taxpayers and the revenue that the state has. The feds could print money to do baby bonds, Connecticut doesn’t have that option. We have to balance a budget.”
Luxenberg said lawmakers are looking at many different revenue generators this session.
“We have to lead with our values. If we all agree that making sure that every child has an economic chance to succeed in America and to succeed in Connecticut we put the program that economists tell us will work and then we build the budget around it,” he said.
However, Luxenberg didn’t rule out the possibility of a tax hike as one of those revenue sources.
“One concept that’s out there is having a slightly higher income tax on the wealthiest people,” he said.
Cinda Fiamma of Wethersfield said the proposal has merits, but worries about her daughter who is already paying a six-figure college loan, having to foot the bill for future generations too.
“I kinda think it's not fair,” she said. “If it's going to higher our taxes no."
The savings would be locked away until a child turned 18. As the bill is written right now, how they spend the money would be up to them. However, Luxenberg envisions some sort of parameters being added.
"It does make sense to make sure that some of that money is invested in ways that are going to pay dividends for them and for the state down the road,” he said.
Unlike the federal baby bonds bill, where annual deposits are income-based, this bill is universal, meaning every child in Connecticut would get the same amount from the state regardless of how much their parents make. Luxenberg expects there to be a push to put more money in the pockets of children born below the poverty line.