This afternoon the legislature's Education Committee placed Senate Bill 25, An Act Establishing the Office of Early Childhood (OEC), on its consent calendar -- a move which allows the bill to leave the committee and go to the Senate for a possible vote.
This development is an important first step for the OEC. The OEC currently exists only by Executive Order, with funding that was provided last year by the legislature. As those following this office may remember, last year the General Assembly failed to pass a bill that would create the OEC, but at the same time passed a budget that included reference to it and resources for its creation. (Read more about this here.)
It is critical that the legislature complete the work necessary to codify the Office of Early Childhood. The OEC represents an opportunity for real reform in the early care community. If fully implemented, this office will bring together early childhood and education programs from across five state agencies, and puts these programs under a team that is dedicated to creating a true system that works for children, parents, and providers. The failure to put the OEC securely in statute threatens the success of this effort.
We will continue to track SB 25, as well as other important early childhood bills including:
- SB 26, An Act Expanding Opportunities for Early Childhood Education -- contains parts of the Governor's initiative to expand access to preK;
- HB 5522, An Act Concerning School Readiness Funding -- increase the per child reimbursement for full-day school readiness programs; and
- Senate Resolution 9 and House Resolution 5 -- these resolutions approve the collective bargaining agreement between the Office of Early Childhood and the new child care worker union, includes raises in Care4Kids funding.
Keep checking the blog for future updates throughout the session.
As we continue to follow Governor Malloy's proposal to raise the state minimum wage to $10.10, and the President's effort to do the same on the Federal level, we wanted to share with you some great work that is being done by our friends at the Economic Policy Institute (you can read some of our previous blog coverage on the minimum wage campaign here).
One of the most pervasive myths about the minimum wage (second only to the fear that a raise is a job killer -- in a previous post we shared a number of resources that debunk this misconception) is that it is mostly being earned by teenagers who need spending money. This infographic produced by EPI shows us that this is not the case:
A 2012 analysis produced by EPI told a similar story; in that year EPI determined that if the minimum wage had been raised to $9.80 here in Connecticut over 80% of the effected workforce would have been individuals over age 20.
These minimum wage earners are also disproportionately women. This map from the National Women's Law Center shows that nationally almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, while here in Connecticut, women are six out of every ten minimum wage earners.
So as we can see -- a minimum wage increase is a targeted reform that will help women and families in Connecticut, and across the country, move out of poverty and towards economic stability. Continue to follow us here on the blog, as well as on Twitter and Facebook, for updates on the state and federal campaign.
I am having déjà vu, thinking back to last summer, when SNAP (food stamps) was put on the table to pay for emergency funds to states for healthcare and education (FMAP). At the time, we were appalled by the proposed offset, but also knew that once it was on the table, it was up for grabs. If we didn’t at least use it for something else we cared about, who knew what it would end up paying for.
The newest offset to make us feel ill is the House Republican proposal to eliminate eligibility for immigrant families claiming the Child Tax Credit (CTC and ACTC). This is being proposed as a way to offset the cost of extending the payroll tax and unemployment insurance (UI).
While it is politically easier to propose an offset that would impact a population which already carries negative associations and stereotypes, someone needs to set the record straight. Of the 5.5 million children of immigrants living with at least one undocumented parent, 4.5 million are U.S. citizens
and more than half live in low-income families (First Focus). There goes the rumor that the majority of these families are undocumented, and assumed to be abusing the system in some way.
In fact, children of immigrants now comprise roughly one quarter of the nation’s child population, and are more likely to live in poverty than are children of native-born parents (First Focus). Anyone who has children can tell you how expensive they are. Worth every penny of course, but when a baby born in 2009 will cost a middle class family $286,050 by the time the child reaches 18 years of age (USDA), low-income families need our support.
The very credits that are now on the chopping block are the only credits which explicitly address the high cost of raising children, which translates to a higher percentage for low-income families. While families at all income level spend the highest percentage of their income directly on their children, lower-income families spend 25% of their before-tax income on a child; middle-income families spend 16%; and upper-income families spend 12% (USDA).
Studies reveal that an increase of as little as $1000 in family income has been shown to improve children’s test scores by 2% in math and more than 3.5% in reading. When families receive the refundable credit, that raises their effective income (or income that can now be spent on anything, like gas to get them to work, that previously went to pay for the diapers or other high costs incurred when raising a child).
While we need to extend the payroll tax and UI benefits, this is not the way to pay for it. House members need to know how using this offset would hurt families at home, and that no child should have to suffer for someone else to benefit. Congress could learn a lot from watching how well Peter and Paul can play together in the sandbox.