In today's email:
- Advocacy materials relating to the state budget, including the impact of the Governor’s budget cuts to each district.
- The need for oversight over the Department of Children and Families.
- Last week’s testimony on business tax breaks and tax loopholes.
- How S.B.2 would change education funding in Connecticut for the worse.
- Two events: Early Childhood Advocacy Day at the Capitol, and Speaking Out for Medicaid in Hartford.
News and Updates
Fact Sheets: The Impact of Budget Cuts
The Governor's Budget would reduce the Earned Income Tax Credit, remove parents from HUSKY A, eliminate property tax support for the lower and middle classes, keep young children out of Care 4 Kids funded child care, and cut municipal aid to 141 towns. Statewide, proposed cuts to the EITC and the property tax credit are equal to a tax increase of $93 for low-income families and $157 for middle-income families.
We have created three new advocacy tools with up-to-date information on these budget impacts:
- A one-page document explaining how many of the Governor's cost-savings proposals target the same groups of low- to middle-income families.
- An interactive map showing the town-by-town impact of these proposed cuts.
- Individual fact sheets for each House and Senate district so you can use the information in your conversations with your legislators. You can download the fact sheets here.
To stop these proposals from becoming reality, we need to work together. Please call your legislators and askthem to reject a cuts-only approach and to commit to a balanced approach that includes new revenue. Click here to take action.
Op-Ed: Providing Oversight to the Department of Children and Families
Lauren Ruth, Ph.D., Youth Policy Fellow, writes for the New Haven Register:
“Independent oversight is a key tool to hold state agencies accountable to the people they serve. It is the reason why governments have watchdog agencies like the U.S. Office of the Inspector General and the Connecticut Office of State Ethics and why nonprofit organizations have boards of directors. These independent oversight bodies ensure that decisions are made transparently, without bias, and in the best interest of the people organizations serve.
When the people an agency serves are children who have been abused or neglected, transparency and accountability become a matter of life or death. For this reason, independent oversight of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families is a hotly debated topic this legislative session.”
Testimony: Business Tax Breaks, Tax Loopholes
Last week, we testified in support of HB 7316, a bill requiring regular reviews of all business tax breaks to ensure that every tax incentive yields the promised economic development benefits. You can readour testimony here. The bill has broad support, as Comptroller Kevin Lembo notes here. We will release a detailed report on the costs of business tax breaks in Connecticut later this week.
We also testified in support of HB 7313, a bill calling for Connecticut to join the regional compact to close the carried interest loophole. The carried interests loophole allows relatively few of the state’s highest-income earners to pay a tax rate equal to half that of ordinary taxpayers. You can find our testimony here.
Potential Cuts from the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act
A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities details the Connecticut-specific impacts of the federal House Republican health plan. The report finds that the plan would put 972,000 Connecticut residents at risk of losing coverage or facing increases in out-of-pocket costs by an average of $4,234 per year.
Older residents could face increases of up to $10,315 per year. Who would benefit from this plan? The bill includes $600 billion in tax cuts largely for high-income earners. According to the report, the top 1 percent of taxpayers in Connecticut would see an average tax cut of $48,590 per year. See the Connecticut fact sheet here.
Spotlight: S.B.2 – Notes on School Finance Reform
Our spotlight this week is on SB2- a bill by Representative Rojas and Senator Duff to change the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula that has positive and negative elements. This proposal would increase ECS funding by $320 million over six years and add English Language Learners to the ECS student weights. However, we believe that many components of this bill would harm children across the state. Our primary concerns are as follows:
- The bill would lower the base funding amount for education from $11,500 to around $9,000. The proposal is based on a claim that a subset of school expenditures need to be considered to determine adequate spending, but the claim lacks an adequate research base. We believe that any change in the calculation of the costs of an adequate education should be based on research and not politics.
- The proposal would reduce the weight of property taxes in determining ability to pay, shifting more responsibility to pay for education away from the state and onto the backs of cities and towns with some of our higher property tax rates. We believe that so long as education is funded primarily based on local property wealth, the state should continue to prioritize funding based on local property revenue capacity.
- The proposal does not include special education in the ECS formula and does not provide additional funds to cover rising special education costs. We believe that special education should remain a consideration in the calculation of the cost of education in each community.
- The proposal would create a “money follows the child” system to fund schools: an approach we believe creates two problems.
- First, it eliminates the financial incentives created in service of specific public policies such as increased racial integration or increased access to technical education. We believe these incentives should not be removed without any discussion.
- Second, it would require local communities to fund charter schools, violating a commitment made by the state the shield local public schools from any loss of local funding. Because charter schools serve fewer special education and high-needs students than traditional public schools, this approach would translate into less funding and increased student need among traditional public schools. We believe that charter schools should enhance local options, not decrease local funding.
This article includes some additional information on the proposal.
Early Childhood Advocacy Day 2017
The Care4Kids child care subsidy has played a key role in providing quality child care to low-income working families in Connecticut, enrolling an average of about 21,000 children per month in 2016.
Since last summer, the program hasfaced a $33 million budget shortfall. To address that budget gap, the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) closed enrollment for the program. The waiting list stands now at 3,000 families, and is projected to increase to 5,000 by July 2017.
In a year where programs like Care4Kids are under threat, your attendance at the 2017 Early Childhood Advocacy Day is more important than ever. Please join us and the Early Childhood Alliance on Thursday, April 20, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., in the Capitol's Old Judiciary Room. You may be able to speak with your legislator directly to make a personal endorsement for child care. Wear red to show your support.
E-mail Samantha Dynowski (email@example.com) if you have any questions.
Medicaid Speak Out – Hartford
The Medicaid Strategy Group and the leaders of the Community Health Services invite you to attend the Medicaid “Speak out” event on Wednesday, April 19th, 9:30 AM at 500 Albany Ave in Hartford.
Join community leaders, health care providers, and parents to speak out on how Medicaid provides essential health coverage for you and your family. Come tell your story and urge Hartford legislators to oppose health care cuts.
What We Are Reading/ Listening to
- America's Shrinking Middle Class, from NPR´s “Indivisible” podcast.
- A review of social welfare policies that could encourage work, from the Upshot at the New York Times.
- Labor study: Businesses can pay more to preserve CT’s quality of life, at the CT Mirror
- Mapping the New Urban Crisis, at Citylab, pegs Fairfield County as the most unequal metro area in the country.
Protecting the ACA: Thank Your Legislators
The push to repeal the Affordable Care Act has failed, at least for now, in no small part thanks to the sharp opposition of the Connecticut Congressional delegation. Just as it’s important to ask your representative to oppose legislation, it’s equally useful to thank them for their fighting on our behalf.
Find your federal representative's contact information here to say thank you for preserving the Affordable Care Act.