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Voices Speaking

March 7, 2017

Voices from the Capitol (IX): talking about new revenue

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
 

Public Health Committee

Tuesday, March 7 - Room 2C, 10:30 AM

H.B. 6695 An Act Concerning the Protection of Youth from Conversion Therapy

The bill prohibits licensed professionals to engage in conversion therapy with any person under eighteen in the state.

Why is this important? Healthcare experts agree that homosexuality is not an illness and that conversion therapy contributes to systemic stigmatization, prejudice and discrimination. Conversion therapy is ineffective and may cause depression and anxiety; experts consider it unethical. The American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and numerous others have issued resolutions against the use of these practices.

How to testify: Sign up for the hearing will begin at 9:00 AM in the first floor atrium of the LOB. Bring 10 printed copies. You can submit written testimony to phtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Finance Committee

Thursday, March 9 - Room 2E, 10:30 AM

S. B. 787 An Act Concerning Revenue Items to Implement the Governor's Budget

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

S. B. 837 An Act Concerning Apprenticeship Opportunities for High Growth, High Demand Jobs

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)

S. B. 952 An act concerning the sharing of federal funding between the Office of Early Childhood and the Department of Social Services

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.

S.B. 954 An act concerning the development of a plan for universal preschool

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)

S. B. 952 An Act Concerning the Legal Age to Marry in the State

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.

H.B. 7216 An Act Concerning Family Impact Statements in the Cases of Defendants with Dependent Children

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

 

 

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Education, Health, Juvenile Justice
March 6, 2017

A state budget that reflects our priorities - Finance Committee hearing

The state budget should reflect the core values and priorities of its residents. It should advance a vibrant, more inclusive economy. It should connect residents - funding not only roads and bridges but also public transportation and high speed internet. It should open the doors of opportunity to all children and families.

That is why your voice is needed, when the Legislature's Finance Committee will consider a number of proposals to change the revenue side of the budget.  

Several proposals will be heard that will reduce or eliminate estate and gift taxes and decrease taxes on retiree income.  Connecticut Voices for Children will be present to urge Committee members to base their decisions about these matters on hard facts rather than speculation. Connecticut needs a balanced budget approach that includes adequate revenue raised through a transparent and equitable tax structure.

Please consider joining us at the Legislative Office Building.

Finance Committee hearing

Friday, March 3 - Room 2E, 1:00 PM

Estate tax changes:

Retirement and social security exemptions:

Why are they important?  We at Connecticut Voices for Children understand the concerns of policymakers to remain competitive with our peer states when it comes to tax policy. Likewise, we recognize that retirees and individuals with high-worth estates contribute to our economy in significant ways.

There is no evidence, however, that tax policy causes residents to flee the state. Both measures will have significant costs for Connecticut. Exempting retirement income from state income taxes not only reduces revenue in the short term, but given the state's aging population, will have a bigger impact in the coming years.

Our Position: Should the legislature choose to adopt retiree income tax exemptions, we recommend that lawmakers target relief to residents earning less than $150,000 to reduce the fiscal impact of the measure and make it more equitable. Should the legislature choose to reduce gift or estate taxes, which help to reduce existing income and wealth disparity across the state, we encourage lawmakers to cover the cost of any cuts with income tax or capital gains tax increases for high earners.

Property tax and local finance:

Why Are They Important? Our property tax system stifles economic development, penalizes poor families, and deepens racial and educational inequality. These proposals introduce reforms in the system to alleviate some of these issues, be it by reducing their impact on business (S.B.7) , giving municipalities other sources of revenue (S.B.8), or providing tax relief through tax credits (S.B 415).

Our Position: These reforms are well-intentioned. We believe, however, that the property tax system requires a more systemic overhaul. We will testify about our proposal for a statewide adjusted property tax system to fund education in the state to address these issues.

How to testify:

Public speaker order will be determined by a lottery system. Lottery numbers will be drawn from 11:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB.  Speakers arriving after the completion of the lottery will have their names placed at the end of the speaker list. Bring 35 copies of your testimony when signing up so the committee staff can distribute them to legislators.

For written testimony, email it in Word or PDF format to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Reference Materials: Budget Reports

Connecticut Voices for Children has released several reports covering many issues relating to the state budget. They can be an useful reference when submitting testimony. 

You can also find interactive data presentations for most of these reports in our Tableau page.

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax

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