Voices from the Capitol (VII): Funding education, minimum wage & more

Back • February 21, 2017 • Uncategorized

Voices from the CapitolThe session is now in full swing. This week, the Appropriations Committee wraps up their budget hearings, with several key sections of the budget under discussion. Other Committees will discuss how the state can better take care of youth aging out of foster care, review a proposal to distribute the earned income tax credit (EITC) on a monthly basis, and vote on legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

This Week: Committee Hearings

Appropriations Committee Hearings

Tuesday, February 21: Education

Why is it important? The Governor's budget proposal includes several key changes to education funding in Connecticut. Sixty percent of K-12 education spending come from local sources, but how the state distributes the remaining share of education funds is very important, especially for poor districts. The Governor's proposal makes significant changes to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula and special education, with significant impacts for many Connecticut students.

Our position: The state has tweaked its funding formulas over the years. The current system is fairly incoherent and does not effectively address the needs of children in many low-income districts, while perpetuating educational and fiscal disparities. The Governor's proposal introduces some changes, but does not address the structural imbalances in the current system. The legislature should consider a comprehensive reform that addresses these structural problems.

Where can I find more information? Our Children's Budget analysis, to be released later this week, will contain a detailed explanation on the proposed changes.

Wednesday , February 22: Judicial (with Corrections and Transportation)

Room 2C, 6:30 PM

Why is it important? With the state looking to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system, and, if they get there, out of detention, funding for diversionary programs becomes more important. The Governor's budget maintains large cuts from last year and does not account for this need.

Our position: Diversionary programs for juveniles should receive additional funding, reversing recent cuts, to maintain Connecticut's role as a leader in juvenile justice reform and keep kids out of jail.

Thursday, February 23: Health

Room 2C, 4:30 PM

Why is it important? The Governor's budget proposal includes changes in HUSKY and dental insurance eligibility rules, as well as cuts in crucial health programs like school-based health centers.

Our position: Further weakening the safety net would place many vulnerable children and families at risk of losing access to health care.

Where can I find more information? You can find more information on the effects of benefit cuts here, and on the Children's Budget report later this week.

How to testify in Appropriations:

1. Sign up in advance: public speaker order for the hearings is determined by a lottery system.  Lottery numbers are drawn the day of the hearing from 9:00 A.M. until 10:00 A.M. in the LOB First Floor Atrium and from 10:15 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. in Room 2700 of the LOB.  Speakers arriving after the completion of the lottery will have their names placed at the end of the speaker list, so be there on time!  The list of speakers registered through the lottery system will be posted outside the designated hearing room at least one hour prior to the start of the public hearing.

2. Expect a long day: Some of the Appropriations Committee hearings might require a long wait.

3. Prepare your testimony: Remember to bring 30 copies of written testimony at the time of sign-up, but not later than 2:00 P.M. Send a copy via email in Word or PDF format to APPtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

4. You can also just submit written testimonybut being there tends to be more effective.


Children's Committee Hearing

S.B.813 – An act concerning youth aging out of Department of Children and Families custody

This bill requires the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to ensure that youths aging out of foster care do not become homeless.

Why it is important? By age 21, 29% of Connecticut youth that have been in foster care were either currently homeless or had been homeless in the last two years. Download our fact sheet here for more data and information regarding this bill. You can find our report about aging our of foster care here.

Hearing details: Public hearing on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 10:00 A.M. in Room 2B of the LOB.  Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 9:00 A.M. in Room 2B of the LOB and will be first come, first serve.  Bring 30 copies of written testimony to Committee staff at 9:00 A.M. in Room 2B of the LOB.  Individuals not wishing to testify in person may email written testimony in Word or PDF format to KIDtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Finance Committee Hearing

H.B.5237 – An act requiring a study of the Earned Income Tax Credit

A study bill to assess and make recommendations on spreading Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) payments monthly over the whole year and allow recipients to maintain eligibility after small increases of pay.

Why it is important? There is considerable evidence that spreading EITC payments over the year makes it more effective. You can read our testimony for a similar bill last year; here is a Brookings' study on this issue.

Hearing details: Public hearing on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 11:00 A.M. in Room 2E of the LOB.  A lottery system will determine public speaker order.  Lottery numbers will be drawn from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB.  Please submit 35 copies of written testimony. Please email written testimony in Word or PDF format to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Labor and Public Employees Committee

Last week we testified in front of the Labor and Public Employees Committee in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, noting that it would benefit more than 110,000 children in the state (see our full testimony here). The Committee will vote tomorrow (Tuesday in Room 2E at 12 P.M.) on S.B.13 and H.B. 6208, the two bills relating to the increase. If one of your legislators sits on this committee call and ask them to support these bills.

Check the membership list here, and click here to find your legislators and their contact information.

Spotlight: Revenue Options for Connecticut

We've updated our Revenue Options brief with new data, which shows that 95% of our proposal calling for a half-percentage point increase in the top income tax rates would fall on the top 1% of taxpayers.

The new brief also provides rough estimates of revenue that could be generated from each of the services included in our proposal to broaden the base and lower the rate of the state sales tax (see appendix).


Upcoming Events

Demystifying the State Budget and Fighting for Children

Derek Thomas and Ray Noonan will present at Hadlyme Public Hall
on Saturday March 4th to talk about the Connecticut state budget
and our recent reports on property tax reform, revenue options, and
the Children's Budget. This talk is part of the Activism Teach-In
conference hosted by Together We Rise Connecticut.

Click here to register.


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