Hearings, hearings, and more hearings: we have another busy week ahead with at least five committees holding public hearings on bills that impact children and families.
We encourage advocates to pay particular attention to the Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, as it provides another chance to make your voices heard about the need for a balanced budget with adequate revenue for essential services.
This Week: Committee Hearings
Thursday, March 9 – Room 2E, 10:30 AM
This bill translates the Governor's budget proposal regarding revenue into legislative language. Our Children´s Budget analysis has the full details.
Why is it important? The Governor's proposed budget generates $607 million in new revenue, largely by eliminating tax credits for low- and middle-income households, increasing taxes on tobacco products, and increasing expectations for revenue collections. See our Children´s Budget analysis for more details.
This presents two main problems. First, more than 40 percent of new revenue is generated by reducing the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and eliminating the property tax credit. Combined, these proposals would create hardships for already-struggling working families. Second, if we take into account the size of the projected deficit ($3.6 billion), and the unrealistic savings projected by the Governor, the proposed new revenue is insufficient to address the total budget gap.
The state budget is a reflection of Connecticut's priorities. Long-term commitments to create opportunity for all children and families drive the state's prosperity. To support Connecticut's long term economic health, a balanced approach to the upcoming biennial budget must include new revenue to address our strategic priorities and create opportunity for all children in all communities in the state. Our revenue options brief provides several alternatives to make this possible.
How to testify: Sign-up for the hearing will be from 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM in the first floor atrium of the LOB. A lottery system will determine public speaker order. Bring 35 copies of your testimony. You can email written testimony in Word or PDF format to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.
Higher Education Committee
Thursday, March 9 – Room 1E, 11:30 AM
This bill creates a task force to identify areas of growth in the labor market.
Why is it important? The state should identify growth areas in the labor market to better target its workforce development programs.
How to testify: Sign-up for the hearing will be at 10:30 AM in room 1E of the LOB. Bring 35 copies of your testimony. You can email written testimony in Word or PDF format to HEDtestimony@cga.ct.gov.
News: Recent Hearings
Finance Committee (March 3)
Last Friday, Derek Thomas and Ray Noonan testified on several legislative proposals concerning municipal revenue, property taxes, the estate and gift tax, and pension and social security exemptions.
The proposals on the table aim to scale back the estate and gift taxes as well as exempt pension and social security income from the income tax. We proposed slight modifications on equity and adequacy grounds, such as limiting retirement income only to individuals earning less than $150,000, and offsetting estate tax proposals with increase in income tax and/or capital gains rates. Read our testimony and proposals here.
Furthermore, while we support the legislature's intent to create a simpler and more equitable property tax system, we are concerned that none of the legislature's proposed bills tackle systemic issues with the state's property tax system. Rather, we prefer an education property tax system modeled after Vermont's. Read our testimony here, as well as our report detailing our proposed education property tax system. Our proposal would cut taxes for 75 percent of residents, strengthen the tax base of our largest cities, and level the playing field so that all communities can attract jobs.
Education Committee (March 6)
This bill creates a mechanism to transfer $10 million or more in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant money from the Department of Social Services into the Office of Early Childhood to fund Care 4 Kids.
Why is this important? While we strongly advocate for fully funding Care 4 Kids, we urge caution with redistributing TANF money, which funds a number of other key services for children and families that should be sheltered from cuts.
The bill tasks the Department of Education with writing a plan to establish universal preschool in Connecticut.
Why is this important? Although we applaud the consideration of what it would take to invest strongly in young children, we believe that the Office of Early Childhood should lead the creation of this plan, and that the plan should address the care and education of infants and toddlers as well.
Judiciary Committee (March 6)
We are currently tracking this bill that eliminates a provision allowing for parents – or a judge – to grant permission for a person under the age of 18 to marry, thus raising the age of marriage for all individuals to 18.
In cases when a defendant might be sentenced to be incarcerated, their defense would be able to submit a statement describing how this might impact their dependent children. The court can consider this when making a sentencing decision.
Why is this important? When a child's parent (especially a mother) is incarcerated, the chances increase that the child will end up in foster care. Children with incarcerated parents face worse long term outcomes than other kids-with a higher likelihood of school discipline, school drop out or later incarceration. This problem disproportionately impacts black and low-income children.
Spotlight: Voices on the Budget
First, a quick teaser: we are working on a report on the impact of closing the Care 4 Kids program, We are expecting to release the report this week.
When planning your testimony to the Finance Committee, you may find it useful to refer to the many reports we have produced relating to the state budget. If you have additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out.
You can also find interactive data presentations for most of these reports in our Tableau page.
What we are reading