Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

State cuts into child-care subsidies, By Rob Ryser, July 9, 2017, Danbury News Times: “State cuts to a program that helps needy families afford child care has left 6,500 kids across Connecticut without a quality place to go while their parents are working. Child care subsidies for 235 children have been dropped in greater Danbury since cuts to the Care 4 Kids program began in August. Advocates say the result will be more children who are less prepared for kindergarten, and more parents who stop working and apply for government assistance, because they cannot afford child care…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy saved for working parents in Care4Kids; most new families barred, By Josh Covner, November 29, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Working families who now receive a child care subsidy that helps parents keep their jobs can remain in Care4Kids under new state actions that cut a $6.1 million program-threatening deficit by more than half.  By closing Care4Kids to additional groups of new applicants, and applying extra money left over in a separate preschool program, the state can now renew subsidies for another year for all enrolled parents, officials said Tuesday…”

Child Care Subsidies – Connecticut

Child care subsidy for thousands of state’s working poor in danger, By Josh Kovner, November 16, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Elisha Larose takes home about $350 per week as a certified nurse’s aide in New Haven. Between rent, food, car insurance, medical bills, and utilities, the money is stretched thin for her and her 4-year-old son, Torraye.  She is making it, she says, with careful budgeting and the help of a child-care subsidy for working parents. She pays $48 per week for a pre-school center for Torraye that actually costs up to $297 a week.  But that subsidy is in jeopardy. It is provided through a program called Care4Kids that is $5.4 million in the red. The state has already closed the program to new applicants, and people whose year-long subsidy expires in the coming winter and spring may not be renewed…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In Connecticut, a wealth gap divides neighboring schools, By Elizabeth A. Harris and Kristin Hussey, September 11, 2016, New York Times: “The two Connecticut school districts sit side by side along Long Island Sound. Both spend more than the national average on their students. They prepare their pupils for the same statewide tests. Their teachers, like virtually all the teachers in the state, earn the same high marks on evaluations.  That is where the similarities end: In Fairfield, a mostly white suburb where the median income is $120,000, 94 percent of students graduate from high school on time. In Bridgeport, the state’s most populous and one of its poorest cities, the graduation rate is 63 percent. Fifth graders in Bridgeport, where most people are black or Hispanic, often read at kindergarten level, one of their teachers recently testified during a trial over school funding inequities…”

Affordable Housing

  • In Baltimore, hopes of turning abandoned properties into affordable homes, By Pam Fessler, April 26, 2016, National Public Radio: “Baltimore’s poorest neighborhoods have long struggled with a lack of decent housing and thousands of abandoned homes. Things recently took a turn for the worse: Five vacant houses in the city collapsed in high winds several weeks ago, in one case killing a 69-year-old man who was sitting in his car.  The city needs to do more about decaying properties if it wants to revitalize neighborhoods like those where Freddie Gray grew up, says Marvin Cheatham, president of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association in West Baltimore…”
  • In wealthy pocket of Connecticut, an innovative approach to affordable housing, By Matt A.V. Chaban, April 25, 2016, New York Times: “The offices of Hobbs Inc., a third-generation home builder here, are lined with awards and framed articles for the firm’s decades of work. “2008 Best Residential Remodel Over $3 Million.” “2010 Outstanding Home Over 12,000 Sq. Ft.” “Imus in the Afternoon.” “Living Very Large.” In his wood-paneled office on Thursday, Scott Hobbs was going over what may be his most challenging project yet: the Millport Apartments, a 73-unit affordable housing complex in the center of New Canaan. In addition to being president of the family business, Mr. Hobbs is chairman of the housing authority for this town of 20,000 — a place more often associated with Philip Johnson’s Glass House and Waveny, the 300-acre estate of a founder of Texaco, not to mention custom-built Hobbs homes on half- to four-acre lots…”

Bail System – Connecticut

Gov. Malloy proposes elimination of bail for some offenders, By Daniela Altimari, January 28, 2016, Hartford Courant: “Standing in a church in the North End Thursday afternoon, Gov.Dannel P. Malloy outlined his plan to take on a bail system that dates from medieval England. The Democratic governor is proposing an end to bail for low-risk defendants charged with low-level crimes. In cases where bond is set as a condition of release, Malloy is calling for a new system that would permit defendants to sidestep bail bondsmen and put up a cash deposit directly with the court in order to secure their freedom…”

School Funding – Connecticut

In suburban schools, student poverty growing faster than education aid, By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, May 4, 2015, Hartford Courant: “The number of students from poor families attending suburban schools in Connecticut is increasing.  Numerous legislators say these increases justify providing $14.2 million in additional state aid over the next two fiscal years to help several suburban districts cover the cost of educating these high-need students…”

LIHEAP and SNAP

New York, Connecticut offset cuts to food stamps by increasing home heating assistance, By Stephen Singer (AP), March 2, 2014, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Connecticut and New York have found a way around federal budget cuts that played a central role in the massive farm bill passed this month: bump up home heating assistance a few million bucks in return for preserving more than a half-billion dollars in food stamp benefits. The moves by Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo — with the possibility that more governors could follow — cheer social service advocates who say the deep recession and weak economic recovery have pounded low-income workers and the unemployed who rely on heating assistance and food stamps…”

Affordable Housing and Homelessness

  • Lack of affordable housing fuels Connecticut homelessness, By Brian Charles, December 10, 2013,  New Haven Register: “Connecticut’s battle to bring down the number of homeless people living in shelters or on the streets has been hampered by a dearth of affordable housing, according to the Partnership for Strong Communities. At a time when the nation’s homeless population is in steady decline, the number of homeless people in Connecticut has increased. During the last three years, the state’s homeless population has risen from 4,316 to 4,448, according to data collected in January and released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last month…”
  • With rental demand soaring, poor are feeling squeezed, By Annie Lowrey, December 9, 2013, New York Times: “Violeta Torres cannot afford her apartment. Ms. Torres, a 54-year-old nanny, pays $828 a month for a rundown one-bedroom that she keeps spotlessly clean, making the rent only by letting an acquaintance sleep on a mattress in the living room for about $400 a month. But her one-bedroom happens to be in the booming Columbia Heights area here, where such an apartment, once renovated, would easily command twice the price…”
  • Alaska’s thin line between camping and homelessness, By Kirk Johnson, December 7, 2013, New York Times: “People come to Kenai Peninsula for the natural beauty or for an Alaskan escape from the routines that shape life in fussier places. There are good oil industry jobs, and a Russian patina hangs over the landscape in the names of the small towns and a few orthodox churches that keep the flame alive. When the salmon are running on the Kenai River, you can pull them in until your arms are sore, people here are fond of saying. But those bounties of nature, which have drawn settlers and fortune seekers since the days of Captain Cook, also mask a hard reality. When someone’s life goes awry, through a misstep or a spousal betrayal, a job loss or an eviction, or just a stretch of bad luck, there is not much of a safety net here…”

Earned Income Tax Credit – Connecticut

New state tax credit for working poor paid $601 on average, By Mara Lee, January 10, 2013, Hartford Courant: “About 13 percent of Connecticut households worked either so little, or at such low-wage work in 2011 that they were eligible for the new state Earned Income Tax Credit. The average filer’s income was $17,957, according to an analysis released Thursday by the fiscal policy center at Connecticut Voices for Children, an anti-poverty nonprofit. The state helps the working poor by paying them 30 percent of what they can claim on the federal EITC. So the average household gets $2,003 in the federal income tax credit, and $601 from Connecticut…”

Minimum Wage – Connecticut

Legislative committee backs minimum-wage bill, By Daniela Altimari, March 15, 2012, Hartford Courant: “The state’s minimum wage would rise 50 cents in each of the next two years under a measure that cleared the legislature’s labor committee Thursday. The committee tweaked the bill before the vote, both to reduce the size of the increase from 75 cents each year, and to move the first increase from July 1 to next January. If approved, the hourly wage would rise from the current $8.25 to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2013, and to $9.25 on Jan. 1, 2014. The following year, the rate would be tied to the Consumer Price Index. The measure has a high-profile champion in House Speaker Chris Donovan, but its fate remains murky, largely because Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s support is uncertain…”

State Minimum Wages

  • NY, NJ, CT politicians seek minimum wage increase, Associated Press, March 7, 2012, CBS News: “Legislative leaders from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are pushing a novel, unified approach to promote higher minimum wages, hoping to spur a national movement and eliminate a major argument of opponents in the Northeast who say hikes hinder a state’s competitiveness. The Democrats want to increase the minimum from $7.25 an hour to about $8.50 in New York and New Jersey, and to about $9.75 over two years in Connecticut, where it’s $8.25. There are several active proposals in the states. New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his counterparts, Speaker Sheila Oliver in New Jersey and Speaker Chris Donovan in Connecticut, want to defuse the argument by critics and business groups that a state puts itself at a disadvantage if it increases the minimum when neighboring states don’t…”
  • Bill slashing tipped minimum wage dies in Senate, By Sandra Pedicini, March 6, 2012, Orlando Sentinel: “A bill that would have cut the hourly pay of restaurant servers and other tipped employees by more than half has died in the Florida Senate – a development that drew cheers from hourly workers. ‘To hear it has died is phenomenal,’ said Cheryl Hennessey, a server at Epcot’s Garden Grill restaurant. ‘[I’m] thrilled to death.’ The measure (SB 2106) never got a House companion and stalled after getting approval from the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. Sen. Nancy Detert, who heads that committee, declared the bill’s demise…”
  • Republicans vote to repeal state’s minimum wage, By Howard Fischer, March 6, 2012, Arizona Daily Sun: “Using the soft economy as a lever, House Republicans voted Monday to ask voters to repeal the state’s minimum wage. House Majority Leader Steve Court acknowledged that the original measure was approved six years ago on a nearly 2-1 margin. That law requires the Industrial Commission to consider inflation and make annual adjustments in the minimum that companies doing business here can pay their workers. The result is a current minimum wage of $7.65 an hour, 40 cents more than required under federal law. Court said, though, the economy in 2006 was quite different than it is now. And he said that employers cannot afford the extra costs…”

Earned Income Tax Credit – Connecticut, Michigan

  • State tax credit for the working poor in heavy demand, By Keith M. Phaneuf, February 13, 2012, Connecticut Mirror: “More than 70,000 Connecticut households took advantage of a new tax credit for the working poor during just the first month of state income tax filings, according to the Department of Revenue Services. The claims filed under the new state Earned Income Tax Credit were hailed both by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration and a leading private, nonprofit anti-poverty group as evidence of the new program’s necessity as well as its success…”
  • Tax refund is vital chunk of annual budget for many people, By Susan Tompor, February 9, 2012, Detroit Free Press: “For Ola Jones, 53, her federal income tax refund typically amounts to more than an extra paycheck each year. It’s a vital part of her annual budget and a way to cover extra bills and necessities. ‘Right now, I need a washing machine and tires for my car,’ said Jones, who stood in line one snowy Saturday morning in late January to obtain free tax-preparation help at Focus: HOPE in Detroit. Her daughter, Tujuana Jones, 19, also received free tax-preparation help, offered that day by volunteers from the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants. The student, who attends Wayne County Community College District and works at Rainbow Clothing in Detroit, planned to go shopping with her $500 tax refund. For lower-income families, the tax season kickoff is a time to catch up with bills and rebuild some savings. The federal earned income tax credit and other Michigan-related tax credits offer a powerful punch for limited budgets…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Pennsylvania, Connecticut

  • Corbett raises limit on assets for food stamps, but critics blast the idea of a test, By Alfred Lubrano, February 2, 2012, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Modifying its original proposal, the Corbett administration is raising the amount of assets a person can have to retain food stamps, drawing the ire of critics who say the asset test itself is improper. The state Department of Public Welfare on Wednesday announced that households with people under age 60 will be limited to $5,500 in assets. For households with people 60 and above, the figure is $9,000. Houses, retirement benefits, and one car would not be counted as assets. Any additional vehicle worth more than $4,650 would be counted. Asset testing will begin May 1…”
  • Pa.’s food stamp asset test will be easier than planned, By Karen Langley, February 2, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “The state said Wednesday that it is easing limits of an asset test it plans to reinstate for Pennsylvanians receiving food stamps. A total of 4,000 households are expected to lose their food stamps under the revised proposal by the state Department of Public Welfare. The plan sparked criticism from Democrats and advocates for the poor when it became public last month. Older people and the disabled with more than $9,000 in assets would no longer qualify for food stamps under a plan submitted Wednesday to federal officials. Those under age 60 would be disqualified if they have more than $5,500 in assets…”
  • Conn. working to fix troubled food stamps program, By Susan Haigh (AP), February 4, 2012, Boston Globe: “While a fraud scandal cast a cloud over a special emergency food aid program following Hurricane Irene, the state is working to address deeper troubles that have plagued the traditional food stamps program, including high error rates, slow response times and an antiquated computer system. Connecticut is ranked last among all the states and territories for processing applications for the federal program in a timely manner. In 2006, the state was processing 81 percent of applications on a timely basis. But that dropped to 59 percent in 2010 and the head of the Connecticut Department of Social Services said the current rate is even worse…”

State Earned Income Tax Credits

  • Malloy touts new tax credit, By JC Reindl, November 23, 2011, The Day: “Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday joined Democratic lawmakers and social services advocates to herald the implementation of Connecticut’s new Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The credit was included in the governor’s biennial budget plan that passed the General Assembly this spring. The cost to the state is a projected $110 million this fiscal year. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia now offer some type of earned income tax credit. Under Connecticut’s program, the approximately 190,000 state households that are eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit will receive an additional credit equal to 30 percent of the federal one…”
  • Taxing the working poor back to starting line, Editorial, November 20, 2011, Detroit Free Press: “As much as younger pensioners may howl about the state income taxes they’ll have to pay come Jan. 1, the hardest hit group of people who file income tax forms may be the poorest — workers whose wages barely bring their families up to the poverty level. That’s because the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit will drop from 20% of the federal payment to 6%. Although this is better than nothing — which, in fact, was what Michigan had until three years ago — it will return the state to the unwelcome status of taxing some people back into poverty…”

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Federal heating funding could drop from $115 million down to $46 million, By Christopher Keating, September 27, 2011, Hartford Courant: “With federal money being slashed deeply by President Barack Obama, state legislators are considering a controversial plan by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to distribute the federal money only to residents who use oil to heat their homes. The idea is being proposed because low-income citizens who heat their homes with electricity and natural gas have shutoff protection during the cold winter months and cannot have their heat turned off for non-payment for half of the year between November 1 and May 1 under the law. The move is under consideration because the state’s $115 million allotment under the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, known as LIHEAP, could be cut to $46.4 million. State officials are hoping that the funding could boost to $75 million, but that is uncertain…”

Paid Sick Leave – Connecticut

Conn. poised to be first state to mandate sick pay, By Jennifer Ludden, June 6, 2011, National Public Radio: “As many Americans watch their job benefits shrink amid tight budgets, Connecticut is about to defy the trend: It’s set to become the first state to mandate paid sick days for some low-wage workers. Across the country, 40 million people have no paid sick time, and advocates now see momentum for a national movement. Connecticut’s Democratic governor, Dan Malloy, campaigned on this issue and has said he’ll sign the bill that passed its final legislative hurdle early Saturday morning, after a daylong debate. It would provide up to a week of paid sick time, largely to service workers in companies with 50 or more employees…”

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Enrollment

  • Food stamp use explodes in the suburbs, By Janice Podsada, May 18, 2011, Hartford Courant: “Nhan Do, a supervisor at Five Star Farmers Market in Hartford, says she always schedules extra people to work the first three days of the month. Those are ‘big shopping days’ for people who use food stamps. Despite modest job gains, Do and other area merchants say they haven’t seen a reduction in the number of customers using food stamps. On the contrary, the number of Connecticut people enrolled in the federal food stamp program has been climbing for 28 consecutive months in a steady progression during and after the officially declared national recession…”
  • 1 in 6 getting food stamps in Volusia, By Anne Geggis, May 25, 2011, Daytona Beach News-Journal: “More than one of out every six Volusia residents got government help buying food in March, according to statistics released this week that show a dramatic increase in assistance in the past four years. In Flagler County, three of every 20 residents got help. That translates into nearly 100,000 people in the two counties. Comparing data from before the recession began, in March 2007 to March of this year, the latest statistics available, the number of area residents getting food stamps increased by nearly 189 percent…”

Earned Income Tax Credit – Connecticut

State approves tax credit for working poor, By Stephen Singer (AP), May 5, 2011, Stamford Advocate: “Connecticut’s new earned income tax credit will provide needed financial help to as many as 190,000 low-income workers, supporters say. Critics dismiss it as welfare. The tax credit, part of the $40 billion, two-year budget signed Wednesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, is a major victory for the Democratic governor and Democrats who run the Legislature after being blocked for years by then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell, Malloy’s Republican predecessor. Sen. Martin Looney, the Democrats’ leader in the state Senate, called it an economic stimulus for low-income workers…”

Incarcerated Parents and Child Support

Conn. to help inmates pare child-support bills, By Pat Eaton-Robb (AP), May 1, 2011, Denver Post: “Julaquis Minnifield was sitting in his prison cell last summer when he received a notice from the state of Connecticut that he owed more than $13,000 in back child support for his 8-year-old son. Minnifield went to prison knowing he must pay $55 a week in child support under an order obtained by his former girlfriend but said he had no idea the debt was accruing while he was behind bars. He expects to owe more than $15,000 by the time he is released next year. ‘What chance do I have to pay if I’m incarcerated? The longer I sit here, the higher the debt goes,’ Minnifield, a 31-year-old Waterbury man, said in an interview at the Carol Robinson Correctional institution in Enfield, where he is serving a 2-year sentence for drug possession. It’s a challenge faced by incarcerated parents across the country, the vast majority of them fathers. Just because they are in prison does not mean they won’t have to pay child support or repay the state for welfare paid to their families in lieu of child support. Experts say the debt can make overwhelmed parents less likely to pay when they are released, and potentially damage relationships with their children…”