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Voices Speaking

March 23, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: Equity and Fiscal Reform

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

The Fiscal Stability Commission Report: First Reaction

As part of the budget compromise, the Legislature created the Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, a business-led group tasked with recommending specific policies to move toward a balanced state budget supportive of the interests of families, businesses, and our major cities. Last week the Commission released its much anticipated report, calling for much-needed investments in education, transportation, regional development, and core city revitalization.

While we welcome and applaud their focus on actionable policies to rejuvenate Connecticut’s economy, we find that their failure to call out and address existing disparities in opportunity, income, and wealth contribute to recommendations that could actually widen those gaps.

The report does call out many important issues. It rejects the simple but misleading call for pure budget austerity, acknowledging the need for broad fiscal reform to update our outdated revenue system. It highlights the importance of revitalizing urban areas, investing in education and workforce development, and attending to critical infrastructure needs. Perhaps most importantly, it notes the pitfalls of the Bond Lock, a provision embedded in the 2017 budget that threatens to restrict the state’s sovereign authority, hamper economic growth and enhance structural inequality. The report calls for a delay on the implementation of that Bond Lock so as to allow for further study of its implications and ramifications.

Unfortunately, the report’s failure to consider the question of equity, and the importance of opening pathways to opportunity for all of our children and families, results in a number of flawed recommendations that would move our tax system in the wrong direction, making an already upside-down tax system, where wealthier residents pay lower tax rates, even more unbalanced.  

We do believe the Commission has provided an important service, for which they deserve our thanks. We further believe that, by expanding the express goals to include equity of opportunity across the state, the General Assembly could advance the kind of broad, bold structural changes necessary to steer Connecticut towards a brighter future.

Legislative Hearings:

The General Assembly continues holding hearings this week in several key areas. As this is a short legislative session year, we expect most committees to wrap up their work in the next couple of weeks, so they have a really loaded agenda. Here are the relevant dates and locations of hearings related to children and families. The full schedule is available here.

Recent Hearings:

Government Administration And Elections Committee

Monday, March 5, 2018

We are tracking the following bills closely:

H.B. No. 5263. An Act Requiring A Publicly Accessible List Of Legislatively Appointed Boards, Commissions And Councils

S.B. No. 256. An Act Concerning Racial And Ethnic Impact Statements.

Planning And Development Committee

Monday, March 5, 2018

We are following these bills:

S.B. No. 217. An Act Exempting Certain Tangible Personal Property Owned By A Business From The Property Tax.

S.B. No. 274. An Act Concerning The Assessment Of Municipal Taxes On Certain Residential Dwellings.

Public Health Committee

Monday, March 5, 2018

We are currently tracking the following bills:

S.B. No. 216. An Act Concerning The Prophylactic Treatment Of Minors For Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

H.B. No. 5213. An Act Concerning Oral Health Assessments Of Children.

Human Services Committee

Tuesday, March 6

Committee on Children Public Hearing

Tuesday, March 6

We are following these bills:

S.B. No. 323  An Act Requiring Notice Prior To The Transfer Of A Child To A New Out-of-home Placement.

4. S.B. No. 322  An Act Concerning Guardianship Subsidies For Grandparents Caring For Grandchildren.

S.B. No. 319  An Act Concerning Parent Members Of School Governance Councils.

S.B. No. 318  An Act Establishing A Task Force To Study Interventions For At-risk Youth.  

S.B. No. 317  An Act Concerning The Failure To Report Child Abuse And Neglect By Certain Mandated Reporters.

S.B. No. 316  An Act Establishing A Child Care Facility Neighbor Relations Task Force.

13.S.B. No. 313  An Act Concerning Medical Care For Children In The Custody Of The Department Of Children And Families.

S.B. No. 312  An Act Concerning The Needs Of Children With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities.

15.S.B. No. 211  An Act Concerning The Burden Of Proof During Adverse Determination And Utilization Reviews.

H.B. No. 5328  An Act Concerning The Admissibility Of Admissions, Confessions And Statements By Children Under The Age Of Eighteen.

H.B. No. 5330  An Act Concerning Homeless Children Enrolling In Child Care.

H.B. No. 5331  An Act Concerning The Children's Report Card.

H.B. No. 5332  An Act Concerning The Recommendations Of The Department Of Children And Families.

H.B. No. 5333  An Act Concerning The Child Abuse And Neglect Registry.

Upcoming Hearings

In addition, the following committees have scheduled hearings for Thursday and Friday. We are still reviewing the bills under consideration; expect a follow-up email with the highlights later this week. We will post our testimonies on our website. You can find the full list of hearings here.

Aging Committee
Thursday, March 8, 11:15 A.M, Room 1E.

Education Committee
Thursday, March 8, 11:00 A.M, Room 1A.

Higher Education And Employment Advancement Committee
Thursday, March 8, 1:00 P.M, Room 2C.

Human Services Committee
Thursday, March 8, 10:00 A.M., Room 2A

Insurance And Real Estate Committee
Thursday, March 8, 10:00 A.M., Room 2D.

Labor And Public Employees Committee
Thursday, March 8, 2:30 P.M., Room 1D.

Appropriations Committee
Friday, March 9, 1:00 P.M., Room 2C.

Judiciary Committee
Friday, March 9, 11:00 A.M., Room 2E.

Highlights: Key Testimony from CT Voices

Connecticut Voices for Children testified on several bills last week covering a broad range of topics that directly impact children and families.

  • On the Finance Committee, Ray Noonan responded to the Governor’s revenue proposal in his new budget, the state response to federal tax reform, and some misguided sales tax exemptions and business tax credits.

  • Karen Siegel discussed some proposed changes to the health insurance markets, supporting increased protections and opposing watered-down health plans.

  • Lauren Ruth testified in front of the Committee on Children on the need for an oversight board to hold the Department of Children and Families accountable, and spoke in opposition of a bill that would reduce the age at which minors can be tried as adults.

  • Ruth also testified in front of the Education Committee on school discipline.

  • Finally, Nicole Updegrove talked in front of the same committee about helping homeless children and families access child care.

Event POSTPONED: Breaking the Bond Lock

Due to inclement weather, our 2-hour conference on the Bond Lock is POSTPONED. We will reschedule the conference at a later date - and stream it online, for those that cannot attend.

The Bond Lock is a crucial issue for the state, and remains our main legislative focus this session. The Bond Lock, as introduced in last year’s budget, threatens to tie the hands of the Legislature and prevent our state from making the smart, strategic investments we need to grow our economy and create economic opportunity.

We will continue talking about this issue and its implications, as well as what steps we can take to break the lock.

Federal Update:

Congress will be taking up the Farm Bill to reauthorize SNAP benefits in the coming weeks. Congress is also discussing further cuts to Medicaid as well as proposals that might stabilize individual insurance markets. More details to come as they emerge.

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Education, Family Economic Security, Health
March 19, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: A bill would prohibit the state from collecting race and ethnicity education data. This would hurt opportunity for children in our state.

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

Disparities, Education, and Data

All students deserve to pursue their dreams and goals regardless of the community they live in. Education is not only important for individual student growth and development but is also essential for ensuring the economic competitiveness of those students’ communities as well as the entire state. For Connecticut to ensure that it remains strong into the future, quality education for all of its students must be a priority.

A bill currently under consideration before the Education Committee, S.B. 359, would prohibit the state from collecting race/ethnicity education data other than when required by federal law or where data can be broken down by every single ethnic group. Given the practical impossibility to break down data at that level of specificity, this bill would effectively outlaw use of this crucial method of demographic analysis.

We strongly oppose S.B. 359,”An Act Prohibiting The Disaggregation Of Student Data By Ethnic Subgroups In The Public School Information System”, because race and ethnicity data are essential to understanding the impact of educational policies on students of color and provide a basis for developing policies to effectively address their needs.

Statistical averages reflect the outcomes of larger groups (in Connecticut's case, White students), but do not show the full picture. In contrast, disaggregating student data by race/ethnicity has a positive impact for students by shedding light on where outcomes differ based on race and ethnicity. Such data help schools develop programs and policies to improve experiences for children of color. To address policy priorities like reducing suspensions and expulsions, improving English Language Learner (ELL) instruction and decreasing chronic absenteeism, we need to take a look at data disaggregated by race/ethnicity.

In Connecticut, key indicators of educational success show that Black and Latino students face clear and gaping disparities. For example, suspension rates in Connecticut for Black students are over four times higher than they are for White students, even though nationwide research suggests that there is no real difference in misbehavior.

When race plays such a significant factor in the educational outcomes of our students, only by disaggregating education data by racial and ethnic categories can we improve educational outcomes for impacted students. Without it, we will not have enough of the story for policy makers, administrators or advocates to effectively support students of color.

Legislative Hearings:

The General Assembly continues to hold hearings this week in several key areas. As this is a short legislative session year, we expect most committees to wrap up their work this week, so their agendas are very full. Some committees, such as Appropriations and Finance will still have hearings in the next couple of weeks. Below are the relevant dates and locations of hearings related to children and families. The full schedule is available here.

Recent Hearings:

Banking Committee

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We are monitoring the following bills:

H.B. No. 5498  An Act Making Certain Educational Institutions Ineligible For Public Funds And Licensure Or Accreditation.

H.B. No. 5500  An Act Establishing The Connecticut Infrastructure Bank.

Human Services Committee

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

We submitted testimony on the following bills:

S.B. No. 437  An Act Concerning A Two-generational Initiative.

H.B. No. 5463  An Act Concerning A Medicaid Public Option.

Education Committee

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 11:00 A.M., Room 1D

We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5449  An Act Concerning The Alignment And Merging Of Early Care And Education Program Funding Streams, Eligibility, Rates.

H.B. No. 5445  An Act Concerning Alternative Educational Opportunities For Expelled Students.

S.B. No. 455  An Act Concerning Minority Teacher Recruitment And Retention.

H.B. No. 5450  An Act Concerning The Staff Qualifications Requirement For Early Childhood Education.

S.B. No. 458  An Act Concerning Various Revisions And Additions To The Education Statutes.

H.B. No. 5448  An Act Concerning The Alignment Of Education And Workforce Needs.

S.B. No. 453  An Act Concerning Classroom Safety And Disruptive Behavior.

Judiciary Committee

Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 10:00 A.M.,  Room 2D

 We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5466  An Act Concerning The Protection Of Children.

H.B. No. 5470  An Act Concerning The Provision Of Timely Notice Of Child Placement Information From The Department Of Children And Families To The Attorney Representing The Child In A Child Protection Matter.

Human Services Committee

Thursday, March 15, 2018

We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5256  An Act Requiring The Department Of Social Services To Collect And Maintain Data Concerning The Transportation Needs Of Medicaid Recipients.

S.B. No. 270  An Act Concerning Work And Community Service Requirements For Recipients Of Certain Public Assistance Programs.

Upcoming Hearings

In addition, the following committees have scheduled hearings in the coming days. We are still reviewing the bills under consideration; expect a follow-up email with the highlights later if we find anything relevant. We will post our testimony on our website. You can find the full list of hearings here.

Public Health Committee

Friday, March 16, 2018, 11:00 A.M., Room 2C

The Committee is accepting electronic testimony via email at phtestimony@cga.ct.gov. If testifying in person, bring 10 copies of your written testimony no later than 9:30 A.M. to Room 3000 of the LOB. We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5290  An Act Concerning The Office Of Health Strategy.

S.B. No. 465  An Act Concerning Disparities In The Healthcare System.

H.B. No. 5415  An Act Concerning The Collection And Usage Of Health Care Data.

S.B. No. 16 An Act Implementing The Governor's Budget Recommendations Regarding Public Health.

Finance, Revenue And Bonding Committee

Friday, March 16, 2018, 10:30 A.M., Room 2E

Speaking order is by lottery; sign up to testify from 8:30 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. in the first floor atrium of the LOB. Bring 30 copies of written testimony. You can also email written testimony to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov.  These are the bills we are tracking:

S.B. No. 414  An Act Establishing A Tax Deduction For Contributions To A Citizens In Need Account.

S.B. No. 417  An Act Concerning The Department Of Revenue Services' Recommendations Regarding State Taxation And Collection.

S.B. No. 478  An Act Concerning A Study Of State Income Taxes And Double Taxation Of Residents Who Work Out Of State.

H.B. No. 5432  An Act Concerning A Proposed Statement Of Estimated Revenue.  

Judiciary Committee

Friday, March 16, 2018, 10:00 A.M., Room 1E

Sign up for the hearing between 8:00 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. in Room 2500 of the LOB; a lottery will determine speaker order. Bring 50 copies of your written testimony. You can also email written testimony to JUDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bills:.

H.B. No. 5040 An Act Concerning Adjudication Of Certain Young Adults In Juvenile Court.

H.B. No. 5042 An Act Concerning Prosecution Of Low-risk Young Offenders In Adult Court.

Planning And Development Committee

Friday, March 16, 2018, 11:15 A.M., Room 1A

Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 9:00 A.M. in Room 2100 of the LOB; bring two copies of your testimony. Email written testimony to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5510  An Act Concerning The Zoning Of Group Homes.

S.B. No. 418  An Act Requiring A Two-thirds Vote Of The General Assembly To Create Or Enlarge Municipal Mandates.

S.B. No. 423  An Act Eliminating The Municipal Spending Cap.

Judiciary Committee
Monday, March 19, 2018, 10:00 A.M., Room 2C

Sign up to testify 8:00 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. in Room 2500 of the LOB; a lottery will determine speaker order. Bring 50 copies of written testimony to the Committee staff. You can also email written testimony to JUDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bill:

H.B. No. 5512 An Act Concerning The Disclosure Of Certain Communications Made To A Social Worker In A Family Law Matter Involving The Custody Of A Child.

Human Services Committee
Tuesday, March 20, 12:00 P.M, Room 2A

Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 8:00 A.M. in the Second Floor Atrium of the LOB. Please submit 7 copies of written testimony. You can submit written testimony to HStestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are submitting testimony on the following bills:

S.B. No. 437  An act concerning a two-generational initiative.
H.B. No. 5463  An act concerning a medicaid public option.
 

Highlights: Key Testimony from CT Voices

Connecticut Voices for Children testified on several bills last week covering a broad range of topics that directly impact children and families.

  • Karen Siegel testified about the need to restore HUSKY funding before the Appropriations Committee. She also testified about the need for racial and ethnic impact statements before the Government Administration Committee.
  • At the Education Committee hearing, Nicole Updegrove supported prioritizing homeless families, households with infants and toddlers, and other vulnerable families on the Care 4 Kids child care waitlist.
  • Lauren Ruth spoke in support of family and medical leave before the Labor Committee.
  • Ray Noonan argued for the need to raise the minimum wage in front of the same committee.
  • At the Children’s Committee hearing, Camara Stokes-Hudson supported making the confessions of children under 18 inadmissible in trial without parental consent. Stephanie Luczak argued in favor of providing notice to foster children before transferring them to a new placement - a key bill that came out of this year’s Youth at the Capitol Day.

The Bond Lock: Extended Coverage

Our new brief: Frequently Asked Questions about the Bond Lock

The Bond Lock is a provision in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019 budget aimed at restricting changes to Connecticut's budget rules. It stipulates that whenever Connecticut issues a bond for a two-year period beginning in May, it must vow not to change three new spending and revenue restrictions — the spending cap, volatility cap, and bond cap — for the life of the bond (typically 10 years) except in extraordinary circumstances.

In our new policy brief we answer the most pressing questions about the Bond Lock and its impact:

  • What is the Bond Lock?
  • What fiscal restrictions are included in the Bond Lock?
  • What is the Bond Lock’s impact on children and families?
  • There are escape clauses in the Bond Lock. Why aren’t those sufficient?
  • Is this even legal?
  • What are the best solutions to the Bond Lock?

You can download the FAQ from our website, alongside an in-depth report by Jesse Marks (Yale Law School) about the technical aspect of this damaging budget provision.

National Coverage:

Kim S. Reuben, director of the State and Local Finance Initiative at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, recently published an in-depth analysis of the risks and potential pitfalls that Connecticut´s new fiscal restrictions, and especially the Bond Lock, have for the state.

Late last October, Governor Dan Malloy approved a two-year $40.2 billion budget for Connecticut more than 100 days after the fiscal year began. A strongly bipartisan effort, the package included spending cuts, new taxes and fees, and new fiscal controls meant to stabilize and improve the state’s financial future.

Many of these new controls are commendable, but if Connecticut implements strict budget rules without exceptions for recessions and other unanticipated events they could create a new form of state fiscal risk (...)

Based on our research, addressing tax volatility and enacting rules to encourage saving during boom periods are good steps for budget stability. However, locking in strict budget rules without allowing for exceptions under difficult economic conditions, may be short-sighted. And enforcing these rules through bond documents could be especially risky.

You can read the full piece on TaxVox, the Tax Policy Center’s blog. As you know, here at Connecticut Voices we have made repealing or delaying the Bond Lock our main policy priority for the year.

Federal Update:

With Congress working on the Farm Bill and talking about possible changes to the SNAP program, including adding new work requirements, it is easy to forget that a new deadline is 10 days away: a possible government shutdown over funding the federal government. The federal government has already shut down twice this year (albeit not for longer than a weekend), so expect another round of negotiations this week. Both parties and the White House have conflicting views on what to include in the bill, including funding for health programs like CHIP.  While there appears to be disagreement over the contents of the spending bill, there seems to be little appetite for a third shutdown.  

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice
March 12, 2018

Fixing Connecticut’s Budget Woes? Tread Carefully When Implementing New Fiscal Controls

Kim S. Reuben, director of the State and Local Finance Initiative at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, recently published an in-depth analysis of the risks and potential pitfalls that Connecticut´s new fiscal restrictions, and especially the Bond Lock, have for the state. 

Late last October, Governor Dan Malloy approved a two-year $40.2 billion budget for Connecticut more than 100 days after the fiscal year began. A strongly bipartisan effort, the package included spending cuts, new taxes and fees, and new fiscal controls meant to stabilize and improve the state’s financial future.

Many of these new controls are commendable, but if Connecticut implements strict budget rules without exceptions for recessions and other unanticipated events they could create a new form of state fiscal risk (...)

Based on our research, addressing tax volatility and enacting rules to encourage saving during boom periods are good steps for budget stability. However, locking in strict budget rules without allowing for exceptions under difficult economic conditions, may be short-sighted. And enforcing these rules through bond documents could be especially risky. 

You can read the full piece on TaxVox, the Tax Policy Center’s blog. As you know, here at Connecticut Voices we have made repealing or delaying the Bond Lock our main policy priority for the year. We will be hosting an event about the Bond Lock on March 14th - don´t forget to register!

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
bond lock, budget, restrictions, Tax Policy
February 28, 2018

Voices from the Capitol II: Hearings and Fiscal Restrictions

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

  • Legislative hearings: our budget views
  • Upcoming hearings
  • Bills of the Week
  • New event: breaking the Bond Lock
  • Federal update: the farm bill and SNAP

Legislative Hearings: Our Budget Views

The Appropriations Committee budget hearings dominated the legislative agenda this week, with lawmakers slowly analyzing and reviewing each section of the Governor's budget proposal. We believe that creating opportunity should be the guiding principle for the state: as we explained in our budget analysis, it is the morally correct thing to do, will better serve Connecticut's changing population of children, and will help grow the economy in the long run. This was our perspective when we testified in front on the Committee, offering an in-depth look at the potential impacts of the Governor's proposal on children and families as well as the state economy as a whole.

Here is our testimony on each of the budget areas:

Highlights for the Week Ahead

In this section we highlight two bills of interest for next week. For a full listing of next week’s hearings, please scroll to end of newsletter.

Support: S.B. 188 An Act Establishing the State Oversight Council on Children and Families.

This bill will establish a Child Welfare Oversight Council, external to the Department of Children and Families, to sustain the Department´s progress once federal oversight ends. The Council will help coordinate family-serving agencies, identifying gaps in information and services, increase transparency and accountability, reduce costs, help improve the child welfare system, and work to further keep families from becoming involved in the child welfare system. The hearing for this bill will take place this Tuesday at the Children's Committee. Connecticut Voices for Children strongly supports the proposal.

Oppose: S.B. 187 An Act Concerning the Transfer of a Child Charged with Certain Offenses to the Criminal Docket and the Grounds for Detention of an Arrested Child

During the same hearing, Connecticut Voices for Children will testify against this proposal. The bill changes the rules that mandate transferring a juvenile justice case to the adult criminal docket, adding more offenses to the list and lowering the age for automatic transfer from 15 to 14. The bill would also allow children to be detained if their home is unsafe or for children’s own safety. Our research shows that detention should be the very last resort, both because there are more effective alternatives and because of its high cost.

Upcoming Hearings

After Appropriations, the other committees take the stage. As this is a short legislative session year, the General Assembly will have a very full agenda in the coming weeks. Here are the relevant dates and locations of hearings related to children and families. The full schedule is available here.

Education Committee
Monday, February 26, 2018, 11:00 A.M, Room 1E

We are focused on the following bills:

S.B. No. 183 An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Department Of Education.

H.B. No. 5169 An Act Implementing The Recommendations Of The Office Of Early Childhood.

Government Administration And Elections Committee
Monday, February 26, 2018, 11:00 A.M, Room 2A

We are focused on the following bill:

H.B. No. 5172 An An Act Concerning State Agency Data Management and Processes, the Transmittal of Town Property Assessment Information and the Suspension of Certain Regulatory Requirements

Committee On Children
Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 10:00 A.M., ROOM 1D

Sign-up for the hearing will be from 8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. in Room 1D of the LOB. Bring 30 copies of your written testimony. You can submit written testimony by email to KIDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are focusing on the following bills:

H.B. No. 5190 An Act Extending The Reporting Deadline Of The Task Force To Study Voluntary Admission To The Department Of Children And Families.

S.B. No. 187 An Act Concerning The Transfer Of A Child Charged With Certain Offenses To The Criminal Docket And The Grounds For Detention Of An Arrested Child.

S.B. No. 188 An Act Establishing The State Oversight Council On Children And Families.

Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee
Tuesday, February 27, 2018. 1:00 P.M., Room 1E

Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 12:00 P.M. in Room 1E of the LOB. Bring 30 copies of your written testimony. You can submit written testimony by email to HEDtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bill:

H.B. No. 5037 An Act Establishing The Division Of Postsecondary Education.

Insurance And Real Estate Committee
Tuesday, February 27, 2018, 12:00 P.M., Room 2D

Sign-up for the hearing will begin 10:00 A.M. in Room 2800 of the LOB. Please bring 25 copies of written testimony. You can also submit written testimony by email to INStestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bill:

S.B. No. 199 An Act Concerning Special Education Funding

*Public Health Committee
Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 11:00 A.M., Room 1D

Sign-up for the hearing will begin at 9:30 A.M. in the First Floor Atrium of the LOB; bring 10 copies of your testimony. You can submit written testimony by email to ph.testimony@cga.ct.gov. The Public Health Committee prefers a separate testimony for each bill.

Aging Committee
Thursday, March 1, 2018, 10:00 A.M., Room 1B

Sign-up for the hearing will begin 9:15 A.M. in Room 1B of the LOB. Please submit 20 copies of written testimony. You can also email written testimony to AGEtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

Insurance And Real Estate Committee
Thursday, March 1, 2018, 10:00 A.M., Room 2D

Sign-up for the hearing will begin 10:00 A.M. in Room 2800 of the LOB. Please submit 25 copies of written testimony. You can submit written testimony by email to NStestimony@cga.ct.gov. We are tracking the following bills:

H.B. No. 5207 An Act Expanding Health Insurance Products Available In This State.

H.B. No. 5210 An Act Mandating Insurance Coverage of Essential Health Benefits and Expanding Mandated Health Benefits for Women, Children and Adolescents.

Finance, Revenue And Bonding Committee
Friday, March 2, 2018, 12:00 P.M., Room 2E

A lottery will determine public speaker order. You can get a number from 11:00 A.M. to 12:00 P.M. in the first floor atrium of the LOB. Please submit 30 copies of written testimony. You can email written testimony to FINtestimony@cga.ct.gov. We will cover the Finance bills in more detail in later emails, but these are the bills we are focused on:

S.B. No. 10 An Act Concerning Revenue Items To Implement The Governor's Budget.

S.B. No. 11 An Act Concerning Connecticut's Response To Federal Tax Reform.

H.B. No. 5009 An Act Exempting Car Wash Services From The Sales Tax.

New Event: Breaking the Bond Lock

Did you know that a new provision in last year’s budget threatens to tie the hands of the Legislature and prevent our state from making smart investments in a more prosperous tomorrow?

Did you know that this new provision, a bond lock, would impose restraints for the next ten years, regardless of the will of a clear majority in the Legislature?

Do you want to learn more about the Bond Lock and the newly imposed fiscal restrictions that put Connecticut’s prosperity at risk? Join us Wednesday, March 7, from 2:00 P.M to 4:00 PM at the Lyceum for a 2-hour event explaining the Bond Lock and its implications, as well as what steps we can take to break the lock.

On the agenda:

  • What is the Bond Lock?
  • The impact of the Bond Lock: putting investments in opportunity at risk
  • Legislative outlook: the General Assembly and fiscal restrictions
  • Advocating for change: tactics and messaging
  • Breaking the Bond Lock: taking action  

WHAT: “Breaking the Bond Lock” Conference
WHERE: The Lyceum, 3rd Floor Conference Room, 227 Lawrence St, Hartford, 06106
WHEN: Wednesday, March 7, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Click here to register

Federal Update: the Farm Bill and SNAP

Congress reconvenes today, with most of the budget battles already behind. On their agenda, besides immigration and gun control debates, there is a piece of legislation that might pose a threat to a key low-income food assistance program: the Farm Bill and SNAP.

The Farm Bill, which is renewed every five years, includes SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), our nation’s largest and most effective anti-hunger program. If the House Farm Bill—like the President’s budget proposal released last week—contains cuts to SNAP benefits and eligibility, nearly every type of SNAP participant could be hurt, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities, low-income working families with children, and those struggling to find work.

The deadline to reauthorize the Farm Bill is September 30th, and the process is just getting started. The debate is likely to be contentious, so expect to hear more about SNAP in the coming weeks.

What We Are Reading

 

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice
February 20, 2018

Voices from the Capitol: Our Priority- Breaking the Bond Lock

Roger Senserrich

In today’s email:

Our Legislative Priorities: A Call to Action

Connecticut Voices for Children believes that every child in our state deserves a meaningful opportunity to succeed. Equity in opportunity will not only allow more of our children to reach their full potential but, in so doing, it will generate substantial economic benefit for the state as a whole.

For 2018, we have a “short session” that is focused on the state budget. We urge all child advocates to become as informed as possible on the state budget. Simply put, we fund what we value. If the budget does not fund critical services to support thriving children, families, and communities, if the budget does not open pathways to opportunity for all, then it undermines our values and our goals.

This year our legislative agenda centers on one key priority: amending harmful fiscal restraints created last fall as part of the budget compromise.  

You can download our full policy agenda here.

Last fall’s budget created a series of fiscal restrictions intended to impose fiscal discipline.  Unfortunately, the restrictions did not benefit from any public hearing or input, and they pose a significant threat to the long-term social and economic health of our state.  

The most critical and time-sensitive issue for this session is the bond lock. The bond lock stipulates that whenever the state issues a bond after May 1, it must vow not to change three new spending and revenue restrictions for the life of the bond (typically ten years) except in extraordinary circumstances. Because bonds are considered contracts, Connecticut would be legally bound to maintain these spending and revenue restraints, despite what future Governors or legislatures might find to be in the best interests of the state.

How damaging the bond lock will be depends upon the details of the other three restraints it seals into contract. These three budget restrictions—the spending cap, volatility cap, and bonding cap— contain drafting flaws, making it more difficult for Connecticut to perform the strategic investments necessary to promote equitable opportunity and inclusive economic growth.

The Governor’s budget did not address these restrictions, neglecting an issue that, if not addressed before the state issues bonds after this May, will hamper Connecticut’s core functioning for the next decade.

You can read a more in-depth take on the fiscal restrictions and the bond lock in our budget analysis here, or download our fact sheet here and here. You can watch our presentations on the issue here and here.

Upcoming Hearings

The session starts with a series of Appropriations Committee hearings to discuss the Governor's budget proposal. The hearings began yesterday and will continue through Friday, February 23.  As usual, a lottery determines public speaker order. Sign up takes place from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. in the LOB First Floor Atrium and from 10:15 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. in Room 2700.

Here are the relevant hearing dates and locations relating to children and families. The full schedule is available here.

Health - Friday, February 16, 2018 (Room 2C).
Covering the Department of Developmental Services, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Department of Public Health. Public hearing begins at 4 P.M.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018 (Room 2C)
Covering the Judicial Department, Corrections, and Public Defender Services, plus Housing, Labor, and Economic and Community Development. Public Hearing begins at 6 P.M.

Human Services - Wednesday, February 21, 2018 (Room 2C)
Covers the Department of Social Services, Department of Children and Families, and Department of Rehabilitative Services. Public hearing begins at 6 P.M.

Education - Thursday, February 22, 2018 (Room 2C)
Covers (among others) the Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood and the Teachers’ Retirement Board. Public hearing begins at 5 P.M.

For more information on the Governor’s budget proposal, you can find our full analysis here.

Federal Update: Budget Resolutions

Two important documents came out of Washington these past few weeks. First, a two-year, bipartisan budget agreement that included doubled federal funding for child care subsidies (in Connecticut, that’s Care 4 Kids), some welcome long-term stability to several vital programs, including community health centers, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and maternal home visiting. According to Bob Greenstein (CBPP), there is a lot to like on this deal.

The second document is President Trump’s budget proposal. In this case, we have more a statement of principles than a plan, as Congress is unlikely to undo the budget deal they just passed. It is still relevant, however, as it signals the administration’s priorities. CBPP has an in-depth analysis.

Save the Date: Breaking the Bond Lock

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M.

Lyceum, Hartford

3rd Floor Conference Room

Do you want to learn more about the bond lock and the newly imposed fiscal restrictions that put Connecticut’s prosperity at risk? Join us Wednesday March 7 at the Lyceum for a 2-hour event explaining the bond lock and its implications, and what steps we can take to break the lock.

In Case You Missed It

Connecticut Voices for Children published the following reports in January and February. Have a look!

What We Are Reading

Issue Areas:
Budget and Tax, Child Welfare, Early Care, Education, Family Economic Security, Health, Juvenile Justice
February 7, 2018

Statement on the Governor's Budget Proposal: a Call for a New Direction

Ellen Shemitz, J.D.

This past Monday, the Governor released an overview of his recommended revisions to the FY 2019 budget, with a focus on revenue and spending changes to achieve balance. Ellen Shemitz, Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children issued the following statement in response:

The long-term fiscal stability and health of our state depend upon economic growth that affords shared prosperity to families, businesses, and communities. This kind of growth can only occur in a state that has a competitive business environment, a prepared workforce, a commitment to race equity and a fiscally sound state government.

The state budget announced Monday by Governor Malloy includes some welcome and decisive steps to narrow our long-term deficit, move the state toward fiscal stability, and tackle some of our pressing infrastructure needs. The proposal, however, fails to recommend a number of structural changes essential to grow the economy and move toward sustainable, shared prosperity.

Last year’s budget created substantive and harmful restrictions on economic growth through the combined effect of a newly defined spending cap, volatility cap, bond cap and bond lock. To build a vibrant, inclusive economy and remain competitive, our state needs to make strategic investments in transportation, education, healthcare, workforce development, and early childhood: the very kind of bold investments that our neighboring states have already launched. To the south, New York City is moving toward universal free preschool for all three-year-olds. To the east, Rhode Island is offering free community college. Connecticut must similarly invest and innovate or be left behind.

We remain hopeful the Governor will offer a bold call for investment and innovation in today's budget address. We hope the Legislature will address some of the missing elements in Monday's proposal, such as full restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, modernization of our tax system, and targeted state funding to assure equity in educational opportunity.

But first, both the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch need to free themselves from the unintended consequences of last session’s fiscal restraints. They need to amend the spending cap, volatility cap, bond cap and bond lock so that our state is free to meet today’s fiscal, economic and social challenges.

Working together, we can open pathways to opportunity for every child as we build a solid, inclusive economic foundation that benefits all of our residents and communities.

Issue Area:
Budget and Tax
Tags:
bond lock, budget, investments, tax