Increasing budget deficits by cutting spending

The last few rounds of budget cuts at the Federal level have been fairly indiscriminate, affecting the budget of pretty much every agency and department. The main objective behind those cuts has been to try to reduce the budget deficits at the Federal level.

At least, that's the theory. One of the cuts has actually been specially significant, as it contributed to increase the deficit, not reduce it: a $300 million dollar cut to  the Internal Revenue Service's budget.

According to an internal report from the agency (via WaPo) the IRS estimates that every dollar spent in tax enforcements returns $4 to $5 in extra revenue. The cuts reduced this line item in the budget by $193 million, meaning that the Federal government will lose from $760 million to a billion dollars in revenue from this mess.

All in all, a remarkably short-sighted deficit reducing measure. At least for anyone that is not trying to commit tax fraud.

 


The Achievement Gap & Education Reform are being called the Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

This week, the state's Achievement Gap Task Force heard from many advocacy and education organizations on high impact strategies to address CT's achievement gap.  Senator Toni Harp, who co-chairs the Task Force, called the achievement gap between low-income predominantly minority students and high-income predominantly white students the civil rights issue of our time. 

Now, Governor Malloy is doing the same.  In an interview today with WNPR's 'Where We Live', Governor Malloy called education reform an issue of civil rights and human rights.  He went on to say that "we cannot to give up 40-60% of young people living in some of our urban areas."

The legislative session, which has been deemed the year of Education by the Governor, begins on Wednesday, February 8th at which time the Governor will address the state and legislature to outline his objectives for his second year in office.

 


Family Childcare Providers and SEIU...what's going on?

There has been a lot of confusion surrounding Family Childcare providers and the Executive Order that Governor Malloy filed on September 21, 2011.  This confusion has recently been confounded by news that Family Childcare Providers voted 1603-88 to join the SEIU union.  It is my hope to shed some light on what is currently happening and where things could go from here.

The Executive Order that Governor Malloy filed on September 21st allows for a majority representative to meet and confer with representatives from the Department of Social Services on improving the quality and accessibility of family childcare services for parents and children who participate in the Care4Kids program.  The vote that was just conducted, of Family Childcare providers who participate in the Care4Kids program,  was actually a vote to elect SEIU as the majority representative. 

As majority representative, the SEIU will now need to convene a meeting of Family Childcare providers in order to elect a representative body.  This elected body will then partner with SEIU staff in meetings with the Department of Social Services to discuss such issues as the quality and availability of family childcare in the state, improving the recruitment and retention of qualified family childcare providers, standards for family childcare provider compensation, procedures for the state payment of grants to family childcare providers under the Care4Kids program, and training, professional development and other opportunities and requirements for family childcare providers.

At the same time that this process is unfolding, the Governor's Executive Order also established a work group on how best to structure collective bargaining rights and the relationship for the majority representative.  This Family Childcare workgroup is charged with submitting a report on findings and recommendations to the Governor by February 1, 2012.  It is unclear if the work group will meet this scheduled deadline.  The work group could recommend a path to collective bargaining OR recommend against a path to collective bargaining.

So at this point in time, SEIU will not be collecting dues.  They would only collect dues after collective bargaining is granted, which would take not only a recommendation of the Governor's workgroup but also legislation.  If legislation is passed, SEIU has stated that they would not seek dues until a contract was negotiated for Family Childcare providers. 

We will continue to monitor this process and will keep you updated on any and all happenings.


Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans Favor the Richest 1 Percent

In time for the New Hampshire primary, a new report from Citizens for Tax Justice  explains how the tax plans proposed by the Republican presidential candidates would impact U.S. taxpayers in different income groups and how taxpayers in each state would be affected.

The report finds that the cost of the GOP tax plans would range from $6.6 trillion to $18 trillion over a decade. The share of tax cuts going to the richest one percent of Americans under these plans would range from over a third to almost half. The average tax cuts received by the richest one percent would be up to 270 times as large as the average tax cut received by middle-income Americans.

State-by-state numbers available in the report.


It's expensive to be poor. And it's compounded by a struggling economy.

Great story in the CT Mirror about CAHS' new Bank On program, on how financial literacy can help alleviate the high cost of poverty.

Bank On offers classes that teach students and adults the basics of finance and credit so they can avoid the common pitfalls of predatory lending and expensive financial tools and save money. As part of the process, CAHS will evaluate services for effectiveness and make any needed changes.


A lot Going On with Early Care and Education in Connecticut...


There has been a lot of media attention on early care and education in Connecticut over the last week or so.  First, Connecticut officials received the bad news that our state's  application for Race to the Top funding was denied.  The Malloy administration had hoped to land $50 million to implement a variety of initiatives to try to improve early education in the state. In a statement, Malloy called the application "strong" and plans to use the nearly 289-page application as a "road map as we move forward on education reform."

 

Just days later, Governor Malloy sent a letter to the leaders in the General Assembly outlining his principles for education reform. Those principles will serve as a “roadmap” for the upcoming 2012 session of the General Assembly, a session in which the Governor has repeatedly said he will focus on education.

Family Childcare providers also made the news last week, voting 1,603 to 88 to join the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 union. There are about 4,000 Family Childcare providers in CT, covering all 169 cities and towns. They all participate in the Care 4 Kids program, the state's primary child care subsidy that is managed by the state Department of Social Services. It is the Governor's hope and the hope of many advocates that being able to unionize will give Family Childcare providers a collective voice to effect positive changes to the Care 4 Kids program.

Finally, CT Voices for Children released their 2011 Early Care and Education Progress Report.  Key findings of the report indicate that funding for early care and education has been stagnant and is more than 10% below 2002 levels; Connecticut is not serving many of the children who need help with over 86% of infants and toddlers, and at least 25% of preschoolers living in struggling families unserved by any state or federal subsidy for early care and education; and Connecticut’s patchwork of early care and education programs needs reforming in order to streamline multiple funding streams and multiple agencies with varied reporting and eligibility and data requirements.


Inequality: Let's talk about it.

Connecticut leads its peer states in wage inequality, showing sharp growth in the last five years, according to a new Connecticut Voices for Children report.

Compared to Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, Connecticut is most unequal. By 2010, our very high wage earners made 5.37 times the wage of the lowest-income workers. That's up from 4.75 percent in 2006, higher than the national average of 4.71, and above our peer states' average of 5.17.

Connecticut's disparities are also worse than the national average for blacks and women. The report also notes that education pays: People with university degrees earn twice as much as those without them.

WNPR's "Where We Live"  explored a related and intriguing tax plan last week, under which defined levels of inequality would trigger different tax rates.

If the rising tide indeed lifts all boats, then the rich would pay less. But if the rich get too much richer than those with the least, they would pay a higher rate.  The discussion suggests we engage in debate about what we as a society will tolerate as an acceptable level of inequality.

Such a dialogue would help raise awareness and build consensus.


Income Inequality

Just can’t get enough on income inequality? We understand. Here’s some highlights from today’s discussions to put your holiday cheer in perspective:

On this morning’s Where We Live, WNPR’s John Dankosky explored a new plan to address income inequality with guest Ian Ayres, a Yale law professor and economist. They even cited the great data of our good friends at CT Voices. http://www.yourpublicmedia.org/node/17492

Another report shows the impact of inequality on children. In Diverging Pathways, the Insight Center for Community Economic Development discusses need to close the racial wealth gap. From 1994 to 2007, the wealth gap between white and black households with children increased by $22,000 -almost doubling from $25,000 to $47,000. How much worse wider will the gap be if we don’t do something about it?


Does Work Still Pay?

new report by the Working Poor Families Projects calls out some disturbing facts about how public policies are increasingly failing American families. The report uses new census data to show that more and more families are dropping out of the middle class, and that by 2010 there were more than 10 million low-income working families.

Consider:

  • More than one in three working families had earnings below 200 percent of poverty
  • More than 23 million children -- one in three -- lived in low-income working families
  • Families with at least one minority parents were twice as likely to be low-income as white families.

"These families are the backbone of our economy -- caring for our children and seniors, preparing our food, working the cash registers..." writes WPFP's Brandon Roberts in the Huffington Post.  "Policies at the state and federal levels can help change this trajectory of a shrinking middle class and a growing number of working families who struggle to make ends meet."

The solution? Higher education and skills training to lower unemployment and raise earnings; skills development; increased Pell grant resources and access; and improving wages, benefits and supports such as early care and education and health care for working families.

Groups such as as CAHSCampaign for a Working Connecticut, and many others are working on these issues in Connecticut. Contact us to get involved.


National Call-in Day: Early Care and Education

Now that FY 2012 is taken care of, it is time to be pro-active on the budget for 2013. No rest for the weary with these kinds of cuts on the table! Join others in a national call-in day today and tell the President to start the budgetary process on a high note by preserving and strengthening early childhood.

Stop wrapping those presents and take a few minutes to call the White House at 202-456-1111 and ask them to tell the President to preserve, support, and strengthen early childhood investments (including child care, Head Start, and Early Head Start, Section 619 and Part C, and the Early Learning Challenge) as he works on his FY 2013 budget. Early childhood is not only a children’s issue—but an important work support, as well.



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