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February 14, 2017

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). 

Budget cuts:

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

Supporting

Labor Committee hearing - upcoming bills

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.

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 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  phtestimony@cga.ct.gov.

 Tracking

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. 

Upcoming Events

Webinar: tomorrow, 10 AM to 10:30 AM.

Equal Funding for Equal Effort: Property Tax Reform in Connecticut
 
 
Ray Noonan, author of our recent property tax reform proposal, will explain the issues and problems that plague our current property tax system and explain a possible solution: an adjusted statewide property tax system based on Vermont's model.
 
The webinar will be streamed live on YouTube. Please RSVP here in advance so you can submit questions and receive all the slides and materials. 
 
Budget talks - Hadlyme Public Hall, March 4th
 
We'll be talking about the state budget at Hadlyme Public Hall on Saturday March 4th. Stay tuned for details. 

What we are reading

 

 

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