Last week the Governor introduced his budget proposal. This week we have the first of a long series of Appropriations Committee hearings where we can make our voices heard about its contents.
Spotlight: the budget
The Governor´s budget proposal has been released.
We will be releasing our budget analysis later this week. For now, you can find all the budget documents online, as usual. The most relevant pieces are in the biennial budget itself; the agency budgets, municipal aid breakdown (this year with some very significant changes), and the financial summary. A good overview is available in this presentation from OPM; town-by-town budget data can be found here.
Some preliminary notes:
How does the Governor close the budget deficit?
A mix of budget cuts, new revenue and shifting some of the state pension obligations to municipalities. To be more precise:
- $256.2 million in budget cuts.
- $700 million in collective bargaining savings (state workers'concessions)
- $400 million from municipal contributions to the teacher retirement fund.
- $320.8 million in new revenue.
New sources of revenue:
Low to middle-income taxpayers shoulder 40 percent of the Governor's revenue proposals. $105 million come from the elimination of the property tax credit, $25 million from a cut on the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Our full analysis on program cuts will come later this week, but here are some highlights:
- The budget reduces eligibility for HUSKY A parents to 138% of poverty. About 9,500 parents will lose Medicaid.
- Care4Kids remains closed to new applications for most groups, letting enrollment slowly decline.
- The proposal eliminates the 2-Generation/TANF program.
Appropriations Committee hearings
With a budget proposal on the table, now it is the Legislature's turn. The Appropriations Committee has the task to decide how money is allocated and spent in the state budget. Their first step is to look at each section of the Governor's proposal, holding hearings to obtain input from the affected agencies and the public. If you are able to testify, here are a few tips:
Appropriation hearings this week:
Wednesday, February 15: Higher Education
Room 2C, 5:00 PM
Thursday, February 16: Human Services
This key hearing covers the Department of Social Services and the Department of Children and Families.
Room 2C, 4:30 PM
Friday, February 17: Housing (with Agriculture & Energy)
Room 2C, 4:30 PM
Appropriation hearings next week:
- Tuesday, February 21 - Elementary & Secondary Education, Room 2C, 4:00 PM
- Wednesday, February 22 - Transportation, Judicial, and Corrections, Room 2C, 6:30 PM.
- Thursday, February 23 - Health, Room 2C, 4:30 PM
How to testify:
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. Just bear in mind that legislators are there as well, listening to testimony for hours. When it is your turn, make sure to be polite, considerate and keep your testimony engaging.
3. Prepare your testimony: you can find links to the budget documents above. 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 testimony, but being there tends to be more effective.
This week: Bills we are tracking
Labor Committee hearing - upcoming bills
- S.B. 13 - An act concerning the minimum fair wage. (House version - H.B. 6208)
This bill raises the minimum wage to $15/hour over the next several years.
Why it is important - According to data from the Economic Policy Institute, 13.8 percent (110,424) of all children would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage. In total, 336,000 workers (20 percent of the work force) would directly benefit from an increase in the state minimum wage to $15 by 2022. Nearly 60 percent of those workers are women, 90 percent are 20 years of age and older, 63 percent work in education and healthcare, retail, and leisure and hospitality, and 36 percent have some college education The increase would disproportionately help workers of color: Of all black workers, 31.8 percent would benefit, and of all Hispanic workers, 37.5 percent would also benefit. See our testimony from last year.
Hearing details - when and how to testify: see below.
- S.B.1 - An act creating a paid family and medical leave system in the state. (House version - H.B. 6212)
The bill creates a paid family leave system for Connecticut.
Why it is important - According to the National Compensation Survey for private industry workers, only 12% of employees have access to paid family leave specifically to care for a family member, including maternity and paternity leave. People of color are less likely to have access to paid leave. See our 2015 testimony for more information.
Hearing details - When & How: Thursday February 16, 2:00 PM, Labor Committee, Room 2E. Sign-up for the hearing will be from 11:00 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB. Bring 10 copies of the written testimony. Email written testimony in Word or PDF format to LABtestimony@cga.ct.gov no later than 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday.
Public Health Committee hearing - upcoming bills
- H.B. 6021 - An act concerning homeless and unaccompanied minor consent for primary care
- S.B. 35 - An act concerning beverages with added sugars, sweeteners and artificial sweeteners and obesity.
H.B. 6021 will allow homeless, unaccompanied minors to get access to health care without needing parental consent, expanding access to health services. S.B. 35 requires the state to evaluate the public health impact of sweetened beverages on obesity. We included a tax on sweetened beverages on our revenue options proposal that might be worth mentioning at the hearing.
Hearing details - Friday February 17, 10:30 AM, Public Health Committee, Room 1D. Sign-up for the public hearing will begin at 9:00 A.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB. Bring 10 paper copies. Written testimony can be submitted to email@example.com.
A bill raising the age to be tried as an adult in court to 21, introduced by the Governor. No hearing date yet; we will keep you posted.
What we are reading
- The CT Mirror has two good articles on the changes to municipal funding in the Governor's budget. This one details changes to municipal aid, and includes a map of the changes to school funding, In this one, municipalities react to the changes on teacher's pensions funding.
- The budget makes some big changes to healthcare. In this article Sharon Langer, our Advocacy Director, is quoted with some of our thoughts.
- Peak millennial? Cities can't assume a continued boost from the young. The Upshot reviews a smart analysis from Dowell Myers on how cities might not be able to grow much more by attracting young professionals.
- Who is covered by Medicaid in Connecticut? Some data from the Kaiser Family Foundation report.
- Issue Area:
- Budget and Tax