On March 21, H.B. 6162, An Act Concerning a Study of the Implementation of a Debt-Free Higher Education Program, passed through the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. If implemented, the legislation would require the Office of Higher Education to conduct a study on the feasibility of implementing a debt-free higher education program for in-state students at public institutions. This would be the first step to guaranteeing that higher education is both accessible and affordable to Connecticut's residents.Read more
Prepare for State-wide Lobby Day:
Schedule Your Meetings Early!
To celebrate the upcoming America Saves Week (Feb. 27-March 4, 2017), America Saves is launching the #ImSavingFor contest. It’s easy to enter. Just share a short video of your savings story, or a picture of you and what you are saving for and enter to win $1,000 at americasavesweek.org/imsavingfor.
On Friday, February 10th, CAHS hosted our Opportunity Connecticut Legislative Session Collaborative Meeting. The meeting was very successful and we enjoyed learning about other organizations’ top legislative priorities. We look forward to continuing to collaborate and further all of our legislative agendas.
In order to continue this work, CAHS is scheduling a weekly follow up call, beginning this Friday, February 17th from 9:30 am-10:00 am. If you would like to join this call, please email email@example.com.
Meeting notes and links to more resources: 2-10-2017 Legislative Session Collaborative Meeting Notes
"Disconnected youth" are young adults between 16 and 24 years old that are neither working nor studying. This is a population that has been poorly served by the education system, often failing to retain them as students. As a result, they reach the labor force without the academic and soft skills that would enable them to become self-sufficient.
Disconnected youth are twice as likely to live in poverty, three times as likely to have left high school without a diploma, and half as likely to hold a bachelor's degree. Disconnected female youth are more than three times as likely to have a child. Nationwide, the cost to taxpayers was $26.8 billion in 2013 alone, just taking into account increased use of public benefits.Connecticut currently has more than 46,000 disconnected youth, with a disproportionate overrepresentation of racial minorities:
if the numbers for the state as a whole are worrisome, the gap is even large in two of our largest metro areas, New Haven and Hartford. These cities are ranked third and fourth nationwide on percentage of disconnected Latino youth:
CAHS has long worked in programs that support this population (developmental and adult education, apprenticeships). Now with Opportunity Connecticut we will be looking at the structural causes behind theses disparities.
Connecticut does not have payday loans. This is actually a very good thing, as the experience in other states shows: payday loans more often than not put borrowers in debt spirals that are really hard to break free from. Connecticut consumers save $133 million, every year, on fees thanks to this.
Right now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is considering a new rule that will greatly limit payday lending at the federal level. This is important for two reasons. First, it will ensure that Connecticut will no longer face out-of-state lenders trying to litigate their way in. Second, this might help prevent working families to pay outrageous interest rates in short term loans. Just some examples: the typical APR for a two week loan in Texas is 662%; in Ohio, 677%; California, 460%.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
I am writing to ask you to strengthen your proposed national payday loan rule to rein in abusive high-cost loans. Your proposed payday rule sanctions dangerous levels of triple-digit interest rate loans. Our state does not even legalize these triple-digit interest rate loans and we worry that payday lenders will use your rule to seek a green light to come into our state. We ask that you strengthen the rule to close any loopholes and provide states like ours with additional tools to keep unfair and abusive payday loans out of our state. Families in our state are much better off without these unaffordable, debt trap loans.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE WE CAN DO?
Yes! Has your organization spoken up against payday loans? It should!
The CFPB greatly values comments from advocates and direct service organizations. E-mail us as soon as possible for more details on how, or if you need information, templates or you have any questions.
On May 26 CAHS and our partners at the Children with Incarcerated Parents Initiative (CTCIP) presented a new report (press release) on the impact that parental incarceration has on children in the state.
According to recently released statistics from the Department of Corrections, as of April 1, 2016, 53.67% of those currently incarcerated reported being a caregiver – leaving over 17,000 dependents in our state with a caregiver behind bars. An additional 5,000 dependents have a caregiver in a Department of Correction supervised community program (e.g., parole, house arrest). Black children are 7.5 times more likely to have a parent behind bars than white children. Additionally, 1 in 9 African American children (11.4%), 1 in 28 Hispanic children (3.5%) and 1 in 57 white children (1.8%) have an incarcerated parent in the United States.
A vast body of nationally published research has found that children with incarcerated parents (CIP) are more likely to suffer a range of emotional, physical and behavioral issues. These issues include anxiety, depression, underachievement in school, aggression and alcohol/substance abuse. Furthermore, separation due to parental incarceration can be just as painful as other forms of parental loss and are often more complicated because of the accompanied stigma, ambiguity and lack of compassion or other social supports.
You can download the full report here. CTCIP has also produced a detailed report with data specific for New Britain that you can download here. If you have time, we highly recommend you listen the hour-long conversation that Erica Dean, our policy analyst, had on WNPR´s Where We Live last week.
These reports represent a first step for CAHS and CTCIP to draft a policy agenda to address the needs of children of incarcerated parents. We will continue working to collect more detailed and precise data on these children and work with advocates, families and state agencies with the aim of creating a policy agenda for 2017 on this issue.
Yesterday at midnight the 2016 legislative session came to a close. It was a strange year in many ways. Although we will be writing a longer recap soon, we wanted to share some initial notes of what happened, what passed, and what is left to do in this 2016 session. Let´s see.
|The main story: no budget yet|
The one thing that did not happen yesterday was the budget. The Governor and Democratic legislators did have an agreement (we covered it yesterday), but it was not brought up for a vote.
Why this happened depends on who you ask; some observers say that they did not have the votes in the House to pass it, some say that there was a consensus that legislators needed more time to pore over the numbers. The budget will be voted in a special session next week (probably Thursday), so the session is not really quite over yet.
To tell the truth, not getting the budget through yesterday was probably a good decision, as it allowed the General Assembly to vote on a whole bunch of legislation without having to scramble. Legislators could focus on other priorities, avoiding the pressure of having a messy and rushed budget debate right until the very end.
Namely, we got some good news out of it. See bellow.
|Some good bills|
Let me start with the good news: some very good pieces of legislation were approved this session, some of them at the very last moment.
|What did not make it|
We had some good bills, however, that failed to pass:
A special session for both the budget and the implementer is scheduled next week. We do not expect many surprises. The legislative commissions are still on the line, so it is still a good idea to reach out to your legislators and tell them to keep them funded. They are an invaluable resource for many groups that otherwise would not have a voice at the Capitol.
The only other bill that will be discussed in the special session in S.B. 18, the second chance society initiative. Surprisingly, it was not debated in the Senate, despite being one of the Governor´s top priorities. It has quite a few very good reforms on it, so we would welcome its approval.
Plus, it will be a nice lead in to our event about children of incarcerated parents on May 26. We hope to see you there!
It has been an intense, strange session, with a very tough budget looming over any proposed bill. The cuts are going to be painful, and many good pieces of legislation have fallen by the wayside.
But we did get quite a bit accomplished this year. Retirement security, by itself, is a huge deal. Ban the box will immediately improve the employment prospects of thousands of people in the state. The two-gen pilots will continue to lay the groundwork for real, positive reform in how the state supports low income families. Many terrible budget cuts were avoided or minimized.
We could not have done any of this without your help. It was your calls, your advocacy and effort that made the difference. It was the work of many advocates, not just CAHS, that helped to change things for the better.
Connecticut, however, is still facing some real problems. We need more economic growth. We need a collective, intense effort to close our huge racial disparities. We need to fix how our government operates, both on how it raises revenue and how spends money. We need a truly ambitious agenda.
That is going to be our focus in the coming months, and that is going to be our main aim for the 2017 legislative session. We will not be able to do it alone. Can we count with you to move it forward? We are just getting started.