Voices from the Capitol (XXXIII): Americans Like Us

Back • September 8, 2017 • Uncategorized

In today’s email:

DACA Repeal: Americans Like Us

Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director, Connecticut Voices for Children.

This week’s announcement by the Trump administration of a March 5, 2018 date to begin phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is devastating news not just for over 800,000 young people that have thrived under this measure, but for the country as a whole.

One of the fundamental principles of our country is that we define being American not by where we are from, who we worship, or what language we speak, but by who is willing to be part of the American idea, the American project. E Pluribus Unum, one out of many. We do not embrace diversity; diversity is who we are.

The 800,000 young people under DACA are Americans like us. The want to be Americans; they share our values, they are part of what defines us a country. The ‘dreamers’ and their families are our friends, neighbors and coworkers. They are a vital, integral part of our communities. Removing their status and threatening their deportation will weaken our country in ways beyond the disappearance of their direct contribution to their cities, towns, or the U.S. economy as a whole. This will weaken our country’s character; their removal threatens who we are.

We call Congress to protect this program, and we hope they take immediate action to do so.

Budget News: Some Advances

Budget negotiations continue behind closed doors this week as legislative leaders and the Governor try to reach an agreement. As of today, House leaders plan to hold a vote next week, even if there is no budget agreement in sight.

This week legislators expect to release additional budget proposals as the Governor, Republicans and Democrats close on a deal. The Governor gave some hints as to what he could find acceptable for a compromise deal, including additional revenue and changes to his proposal to pay for teachers’ pensions. He expects to introduce an updated budget proposal today. Republican leaders, meanwhile, have been involved in budget talks, but it is unclear if a bipartisan agreement is within reach. Republican leaders also expect to release an updated budget document today, taking into account the savings from the labor agreement voted last month.

All sides seem well aware that, without a budget agreement, cities and towns will face dramatic cuts to municipal grants in October, putting the solvency of many of them (including Hartford) in jeopardy. The budget crisis has been painful for many children and families that rely on key government programs, from daycare subsidies to essential social services by nonprofit providers. Come October, it would get much, much worse. Reaching a good agreement is now more urgent than ever.

Still Important: Call Your Legislators

As the budget negotiations move to a new, and hopefully final, phase, now is the time to reach out to your legislators. We must remind lawmakers of the devastating impact that any further delays would have for Connecticut’s children and families, and for the state’s economy as a whole.

Connecticut’s budget is the clearest statement of our policy priorities. As negotiations slowly move forward, we should keep reaching out to legislators to tell them that it is time for Connecticut to approve a budget that makes children and working families in the state its priority. We need a balanced budget approach that includes both a sound strategy for state spending and modernized new revenue so Connecticut can preserve crucial services and build a strong foundation for the future.

Click here to find your legislator – contact them today.

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New Report: The State of Working Connecticut

Children do well when families do well, and families do well in part when the economy provides jobs with fair wages and good benefits. Yet since the Great Recession, the share of well-paying jobs in Connecticut has shrunk, and the state’s lagging economic recovery has left many—including youth, black workers, and the less educated—behind. In many cases, disparities between the most disadvantaged workers and the rest have increased.

Next Monday, Connecticut Voices for Children will release an update to our “State of Working Connecticut Report” evaluating the state’s economy through three measures: the labor force, jobs, and wages. We conclude that Connecticut cannot afford to leave so many workers behind, underscoring the need for policy changes that will improve wages, make education more equitable, and support truly inclusive economic growth.

Some key figures:

  • Over the last five years, the share of low-wage jobs increased by 9.2 percent. In contrast, the share of mid-wage jobs decreased and the share of high-wage jobs increased slightly.
  • People of color have become increasingly overrepresented in low-wage work and underrepresented in high-wage work over the last five years.
  • Wage disparities by race have widened: the median white worker now makes $10.08 and $8.98 per hour more than their black and Latino counterparts, respectively.
  • The wealthiest 10 percent experienced the greatest raise in the last year while the median worker’s wage remained essentially flat.

Check our website Monday morning to download the full report.

Federal Update: Debt Ceiling, Continuing Resolution, and Disaster Relief

Congress is facing a very busy month of September, with key votes on issues ranging from budget resolutions to children’s health insurance programs. Two of the votes are especially important: a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, and raising the debt ceiling, to avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default.

It looks like Congress will at least take care of these two crucial votes. President Trump and legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle reached an agreement yesterday that will extend both government funding and borrowing authority until December. The package will also include disaster relief funds for hurricane Harvey.

This agreement, however, is only a first step. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) must be reauthorized before the end of the month, as we explained last week in a policy brief. The Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program is also up for a vote. Congressional republicans still plan to vote on a budget resolution and tax reform, and might still try to make a push for an Affordable Care Act repeal. We will keep you posted.

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