Congress Weighs Child Tax Credit
According to a story in the Hartford Courant yesterday, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro is continuing to speak up about the need for a federal child tax credit. In 2021, Democrats passed an enhanced child tax credit that gave families a rebate of up to $3,600 per child under six years of age, and $3,000 per child under 18. That year, the rate of child poverty declined by half, reaching 5.2%. However, when the enhanced credit lapsed in 2022, the amount that families could claim per child was significantly reduced—and the rate of child poverty rose to 12.4% again.
For that reason, DeLauro has been seeking to restore the 2021 credit for years, calling it an "antidote to inflation.” Yesterday, a bipartisan deal was announced that would gradually raise the cap for the child tax credit each year, in exchange for a return to corporate tax breaks from the Trump-era. DeLauro has been critical of this "watered down" compromise. According to NPR, she says it would leave millions of kids behind. The New York Times’ reporting indicates that President Biden, likewise, would prefer to see a return to the full expansion of the child tax credit.
Black and Puerto Rican Caucus Hears from Advocates
The Connecticut Black and Puerto Rican Caucus (BPRC) is preparing this month for the beginning of the 2024 legislative session through a pair of public hearings. Yesterday’s Hartford Courant article by Alison Cross covers the substance of the first hearing, which drew over one hundred constituents to discuss pressing policy issues. Yesterday, the second of the marathon public hearings took place, with feedback to the BPRC from legislators, advocates, agencies, and lobbyists. (Click to watch part 1 of the 2nd hearing, and part 2 of the second hearing.)
A substantive presentation from the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) concentrated primarily on implementation of Right to Read. Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker reported that over 19,500 students in Connecticut are not reading on grade level in 3rd grade, based on state assessment data. Of them, over 3,000 are Black, over 8,000 are Hispanic, and over 6,500 are White—and 11,743 of them attend schools within Connecticut’s highest need districts. Under Right to Read, however, all districts must fully implement an evidence-based reading curriculum aligned to the science of reading by July of 2025. In fact, over 100 of Connecticut’s 169 districts are already piloting, researching, or adopting an approved comprehensive curriculum model. The state has also allocated over $24 million in federal funds to support the purchasing of universal screeners, comprehensive curricula, and assorted professional development in districts and charter schools.
Following the Commissioner’s presentation, BPRC Chairwoman Pat Billie Miller invited the CSDE to return and present a deeper dive into the Right to Read legislation, including regarding any pushback that the state has received. "A child learning to read is a civil rights issue,” Senator Miller concluded. “We do have a responsibility, as the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, to make sure that every child in the state can read."
Later in the day, Dr. Margie Gillis of Literacy How, Dr. Darci Burns of HILL for Literacy, and Dr. Michael Coyne of UConn Neag all gave compelling testimony on evidence-based literacy practices—commending the BPRC for its leadership and lauding the importance of Right to Read.
Other prominent issues of the day were the importance of addressing the state’s housing crisis, the need for a charter school in Danbury, and the state of higher education in Connecticut. (More on the latter below.) See ERN CT’s testimony before the BPRC here.
Vote of No Confidence in CSCU Leadership
A CT Mirror article yesterday described how the university senate president at Eastern Connecticut State University, William Lugo, introduced a vote of no confidence in Terrence Cheng, Chancellor of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) System. According to the article, Lugo says that the direction of the CSCUs impedes their capacity to offer all students, regardless of income, access to a quality higher education experience. His resolution follows in the wake of a biennial budget that left the CSCUs with a $140 million shortfall—which led to both tuition increases and a new incentive encouraging senior staff to retire.
Presenting before the BPRC yesterday, Chancellor Cheng did not comment on the attack on his leadership. Rather, he used his time to ask legislators for additional funding. He described having had to make substantial cuts, and explained that, “I can’t lie that this hasn’t had an impact on our students and our campuses.”