I'm waiting to testify before the legislature's Finance Committee on the Governor's revenue proposal, respectfully urging the committee to reject the proposed cut to Connecticut's Earned Income Tax Credit. More than 40 supporters have signed on to CAHS' testimony.
Four members of Mothers for Justice in New Haven came to Hartford to testify:
They had to leave around 2, but before they did they shared their thoughts and experiences with me, and I'll mention in my testimony.
Carla and Tiffany worked last year as Certified Nurse's Assistants and used their EITC to pay down utility bills, for groceries, and school uniforms for their kids.
"Towards the end of the year especially, you look at your bills, and what each of your kids need, and you count on that tax payment," said Carla, who has two teenagers.
"We count on this for food, gas, to pay down bills," Neva added. "It helps a lot of people out."
The four agreed that the EITC helps local businesses. "You see a lot more people out this time of year," Carla said.
CAHS assisted with more than 10,000 tax returns last year with our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Forty-four percent of filers surveyed said they'd use their returns to pay monthly bills. In 2011 more than 180,000 households claimed the state credit.
Visit connecticuteitc.org to tell your story or learn more about Connecticut's EITC.
Outstanding op-ed in the Connecticut Post by Doug Wade, owner of Wade's Dairy, arguing that increasing the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation helps the economy.
"A government representative of the people should reflect and protect the values that we hold as human beings. The minimum wage is a humanitarian law created 75 years ago that set minimum wage standards with the intention of ensuring that everyone who worked full time would be compensated at a rate that would provide the means to a life without poverty. There is no exact formula to determine a proper minimum hourly wage, but I can say with certainty that $7.25 doesn't cut it."
Doug runs a business, and chooses to pay his workers more than the minimum wage - because, he says, our whole economy is better of when workers can pay for basic needs and be contributors to their communities.
Thanks for speaking out, Doug!
A new study from the UC Davis Center for Policy Research links receipt of the Earned Income Tax Credit to real health outcomes.
“The EITC: Linking Income to Real Health Outcomes” reports that although the EITC is not a health program it has a clear impact on newborn health, and that rates of low birth weight decrease with increased EITC income.
“It reduces poverty through two channels; it increases income immediately with a cash credit, and it provides incentives to work,” the study finds.
Bolstering our point that investing in the EITC now sames money on negative outcomes later, the report goes on to say:
“In addition to being a standard measure of infant health, birth weight is an effective predictor of adult health as well as the economic outcomes that are the EITC’s primary concern.”
The study examined how EITC income impacted low birth weights across demographic groups, beginning with a 1993 EITC expansions. Connecticut’s EITC is currently 30% of the federal credit. Maryland’s is 50%, the report says, and several other states are considering establishing or altering their EITC.
In 2011, the first year Connecticut’s EITC was offered, more than 180,000 households from every city and town claimed the credit. Click here for a full report and town-by-town information.
On February 4th, the Governor announced his plans for a new Office of Early Childhood. His proposal will give early childhood services and programs the focus and attention they deserve. Finally, there would be one place to go for the coordination and delivery of early childhood services.
The current delivery of early childhood services is fragmented over many agencies, making it confusing for parents and inefficient for service providers. Under the proposal, the new Office of Early Childhood would move early childhood programs from 5 State agencies into the new Office in order to simplify the process of ensuring that all programs and services are of the highest quality and families have information and access to these services.
Last week, advocates, early childhood providers and educators, state agency personnel, and parents came to the Legislative Office Building to testify in favor of HB 6359, An Act Concerning Early Childhood before the State's Education Committee. During an otherwise troubling legislative session focused on budget woes and tragedy, a new Office of Early Childhood provides a bright spot and a road map to improving educational opportunity for all of Connecticut's children.
STATEWIDE – In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, CAHS wanted to explore how different parts of our state have long grappled with the issue of gun violence.
Policy Analyst Roger Senserrich authored this short brief, “The Geography of Gun Violence in Connecticut,” on the topic.
Among the findings: While Connecticut’s three largest cities are home to just 11% of the state’s population, they are location of 67% of homicides, 62%of armed robberies and 81% of aggravated assaults involving firearms.
The paper has been sent to all state Senators and Representatives, and urges them consider the poverty and inequality of our cities in working towards solutions and policies to make our state safe for all children and families.
The Connecticut Association for Human Services (CAHS) uniquely combines outreach into working communities at the neighborhood level with broad-based policy work at the state and federal level. As the Kids Count partner for the state of Connecticut and a long-time advocate for family economic success, CAHS uses research to drive advocacy for positive systems change. Founded in 1910, CAHS combines research and advocacy to empower and equip families to build a secure economic future. For more information visit www.cahs.org.
The 20th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act on February 5 provides an important moment to examine how far our nation has come since President Clinton signed FMLA into law in 1993 and how far we still need to go. First drafted in 1984, FMLA took 9 years of efforts by many organizations, policy makers and activists. In fact, three years before the Federal Government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Connecticut passed a state FMLA that is in effect today.
FMLA is the first national legislation that established an employment standard acknowledging that men and women need time to provide care for family members and for a personal illness without jeopardizing their jobs. FMLA has been used more than 100 million times,[i] helping 35 million people keep their jobs and health insurance while they cared for a family health crisis or a new baby.[ii]
But, many workers are not eligible for FMLA. Only about one-fifth of all new mothers are covered by FMLA. To be protected by FMLA, a worker must be employed by a company with 50 or more employees, work at least 1,250 hours per year, and be on the job at the company for at least a year.[iii] Even if an employee is eligible for FMLA, many cannot afford to take unpaid leave. In fact, 78% of eligible workers who needed to take leave and did not, said the reason was that they could not afford to go without wages.[iv]
This year, a diversity of advocates have come together to ask the Connecticut Legislature to pass a bill to create a Task force to study how Connecticut can offer Family & Medical Leave Insurance (FMLI), a partial wage replacement program, to workers when time is needed to care for a loved one or oneself.
Today, on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the historic Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the first federal law that guaranteed Americans protected time to care for loved ones, Connecticut's FMLI Coalition seeks to improve this policy and give families and businesses much needed financial relief. The FMLI Coalition is happy to announce a new website with information on FMLI, legislative updates, and opportunities to get engaged.
[i] Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents, National Partnership for Women &Families, May 2012
[ii] Family and Medical Leave: Making Time for Family Is Everyone’s Business, Future of Children, May 2011
[iii] Leaves That Pay: Employer and Worker Experiences With Paid Family Leave in California, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Jan 2011
[iv] State Paid Leave Fund: Critical Support for Families and States, National Partnership for Women &Families, Feb 2012
For the first time, data are available on family well-being across high and low income countries around the world. The World Family Map Project, a new initiative from Child Trends, acting in partnership with a number of foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and universities, has established measures of well-being based on the role that family plays in the lives of women, men, and children.
The World Family Map Project is a response to the urgent need to map trends in family life across the globe, with a special focus on the consequences of these trends for children. The world family indicators include, family structure, family socioeconomics, family process, and family culture.
Some interesting findings include:
- Although two-parent families are becoming less common, they still constitute a majority of families around the globe. Children are most likely to live in two-parent families in Asia and the Middle East, and somewhat less likely to live in two-parent families in the Americas, Europe, Oceania, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
- The percentage of 15-year-olds who eat meals with their families regularly varies widely throughout the world, ranging from 62 percent in Israel to 94 percent in Italy.
- In the majority of countries, most adults believe that working mothers can establish just as good relationships with their children as stay-at-home mothers can.
We all know the EITC lifts children and working families out of poverty, and is one of the single-most effective policy tools to help stimulate our economy while investing in our future workforce.
A new post by Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institute examines the Census Bureau’s new Supplemental Poverty Measure for a more nuanced look at the impact of the EITC and the Child Tax Credit, and finds they are even more effective that expected, lowering child poverty by 6.3%.
In the upcoming 2013 tax season, please ask your clients and contacts to share what they'll do with THEIR EITC.
Groceries? New shoes? School field trips?
Please share any stories, or filers willing to be profiled, with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be collecting testimonials to educate lawmakers about how much of a difference CT EITC makes to working families.
Also, CAHS and other Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site operators will soon be offering free tax preparation. Please call 211 InfoLine for locations.
Don’t forget that town-by-town information on who claimed the CT EITC is here. Use the "find" function to locate a complete one-pager for your town.
More than 180,000 working families with incomes averaging $17,184 benefited from CT EITC. We have to remind lawmakers to protect this investment in the coming budget session!
Two recent studies on education point to some good news: after years of decline, high school graduation rates are improving. The first study came last November, on a Pew Research poll that points out that not only record number of students are completing high school, but also college enrollment and graduation rates are on an all time high. The second one came out this week from Richard Murnane at Harvard, showing that high school graduation rates are on levels not seen since the 1970s, or even above. Even better, the improvement is centered in minorities:
The improvement was particularly sharp among blacks and Hispanics. For instance, in 2000, 61.2% of black men between 20 and 24 had finished high school; in 2010, 72.0% of black men in that age bracket had.
What we don´t know for sure, however, is the reason behind this trend. The bad economy could have certainly helped; with less job opportunities outside school, kids are less likely to drop out to work on construction or other low-skill jobs.
Matthew Yglesias, however, has an often forgotten hypothesis: lead - as in leaded gasoline or lead paint. The idea comes from a (great) article from Kevin Drum pointing out how lead environmental pollution has been linked to the rise and fall of crime rates in America. Drum himself, however, is not entirely sure that the numbers quite fit on this case, as they seem to be off by a few years. I probably do buy the crime-lead link (read Drum´s article!) but for school performance it might be a stretch.
CAHS has long advocated for a more fair revenue system, including higher taxes for those who can best afford them and closing corporate tax loophooles.
Today's CT Mirror points out the dire need for more revenue as a component of the state's response to a growing budget shortfall. Keith Phaneuf writes:
"Balancing the next state budget exclusively with spending cuts could be the final straw that breaks Connecticut's economic back, pushing it back into recession, the University of Connecticut's economic think-tank warned Wednesday.
"The Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis also said that such a move could trigger as many as 25,000 annual job losses between the public and private sectors combined.
"The Connecticut economy is in trouble -- deep trouble," center economists wrote in a report titled, "Averting the Doldrums: Will Connecticut Avoid Recession?"
The Mirror continues:
"Citing new federal data, the UConn center reported back in August that Connecticut's economy was damaged in the last recession more severely than most economists originally thought....Further complicating matters, what employment growth the Nutmeg State has enjoyed has been concentrated in lower-paying service industries."
CAHS and partners will urge lawmakers to protect services and consider responsible revenue solutions.
Please tell your lawmakers: Spending cuts are the wrong way to go. The Recession has put too many families in dire need of support; we don't need more austerity.
Voters told President Obama that they want to increase taxes on individuals and corporation who can afford it. Given our economic inactivity and inequality, we need to restore fairness and prevent more economic stagnation.
Now more than ever, we need to speak out and require our lawmakers and officials to realize we are all in this together.