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Study: Civil unions a boon to Connecticut budget

Study: Civil unions a boon to Connecticut budget

As the Connecticut legislature advances a bill to provide the state's gay and lesbian couples with civil unions and the state's Republican governor expresses support for the proposed law, a new study shows that the state budget would benefit from such a move. The study, released by two national think tanks on Tuesday, estimates that the state would save at least $3 million per year and as much as $13 million if same-sex couples could marry. And providing civil unions would result in more than $2 million per year in savings, it found. The study, conducted by the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies and the Williams Project of University of California Law School, found several sources of savings for the state budget. The biggest savings would come from decreasing the number of individuals needing and being eligible for means-tested state benefit programs, thereby saving the state money. Marriage and civil unions mean a spouse's income is included when determining eligibility for state benefit programs. The state will also see a boost to its wedding and tourist businesses that could bring in almost $2 million per year in sales tax revenues. "We've seen a lot of spending by same-sex couples on weddings in Massachusetts, and Connecticut couples are also likely to spend thousands of dollars if they could marry," notes economist and study coauthor M.V. Lee Badgett. "Out-of-state couples would also travel to Connecticut to marry, bringing in millions of dollars to the state's businesses and millions in sales tax revenues to the state." The study, titled "Counting on Couples: Fiscal Savings From Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry in Connecticut," finds that marriage equality and civil unions would have only a minor effect on administrative costs, succession tax revenues, income tax revenues, state employee benefits, and the state court system. The authors used data from Census 2000 on same-sex couples and other government sources to produce these estimates. "Our analysis makes it clear that providing Connecticut families with equal rights is fiscally responsible," said study coauthor Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Project. "Making same-sex partners accountable to each other is good for families and good for the state budget." This study reaches the same conclusion as the 2004 Congressional Budget Office report that found that same-sex marriage would save the federal budget almost $1 billion per year. Past studies of marriage and domestic partnership in Vermont, California, and New Jersey have reached similar conclusions.

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