H.B. 5005 An Act Adjusting The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2021: Judicial & Corrections and Conservation & Development Budgets

Home H.B. 5005 An Act Adjusting The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2021: Judicial & Corrections and Conservation & Development Budgets

DATE: February 11, 2020
TO: Appropriations Committee
FROM: Julia Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy, The Alliance
RE: H.B. 5005 An Act Adjusting The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2021:  Judicial & Corrections and Conservation & Development Budgets

Good evening Senator Osten, Representative Walker, Senator Formica, Representative Lavielle and distinguished members of the Appropriations Committee. My name is Julia Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy at the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance (The Alliance). The Alliance is the statewide advocacy organization representing nonprofits, with a membership of more than 300 community organizations and associations.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.B. 5005 An Act Adjusting The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June 30, 2021. Community nonprofits provide essential services in every city and town in Connecticut. They support people in need, enrich our quality of life, and employ tens of thousands. They are what make Connecticut a great place to live and work.

Community nonprofits and the people they serve have made substantial sacrifices during the past decade of State budget deficits. The 2020 Legislative Session provides a critical opportunity to begin to address the impact of this chronic underfunding and increase the stability of the nonprofit sector. Connecticut’s economy is finally on the road to recovery, as illustrated by the budget outlook which is the strongest it has been in over a decade. As Connecticut’s projected surplus continues to grow, it is time to restore previous funding cuts and invest in the people served by community nonprofits.

Given the current fiscal climate, I am here to respectfully request that the legislature appropriate $461 million over five years for community nonprofits. Since 2007, community nonprofits have lost at least $461 million in state funding that has not kept pace with inflation or adequately covered increased costs

and demand for services over the last thirteen years. Please:

  1. Commit to increasing funding by the full $461 million, or 28%, by Fiscal Year 2025;
  2. Appropriate $128 million (a state net of $67 million after federal reimbursement) in new funding for community nonprofits in Fiscal Year 2021, a 7% increase;
  3. Index increases to inflation, to ensure that state funding will keep pace with increased costs in the future.

I am appending The Alliance’s budget White Paper to my testimony.

The following pages include concerns and recommendations related to these specific areas of the Governor’s proposed Budget:

JUDICIAL & CORRECTIONS SUBCOMMITTEE
State Agencies: CSSD/JUD, DOC

We commend the Governor for his commitment to enhancing the Criminal Justice System and Public Safety. In particular, The Alliance supports:

  • Fair Futures – Clean Slate Initiative
  • Reducing the Cost of Inmate Phone Calls 

Community Justice providers support justice-involved individuals and their families. These programs, funded by the Department of Correction and the Court Support Services Division of the Judicial Branch, continue to play an essential role in the ongoing success of the Second Chance Society Initiative.

According to the January 2020 OPM Monthly Indicators Report, community providers are serving approximately 4,000 people in DOC community supervision programs – a greater than 30% increase from 2014. Thousands more receive services through providers that contract with the Judicial Branch.

Over the past five years, while the prison population has fallen dramatically, demand for community services for people involved in the justice system has increased, while funding has been cut by nearly 15%, or $5.8 million. Because of the lack of funding, every day there are hundreds of people sitting in Connecticut’s prisons each day who could be transferred to a residential setting that works to reintegrate them into society at a lower cost, but who cannot be moved due to lack of space in halfway houses.

Last year, the Governor sought to reduce prison capacity through closure of select buildings and units, recognizing the reduction in crime. These closures resulted in a substantial state budget savings, which should be re-invested into the network of community nonprofit providers who serve as partners to the DOC, in the Second Chance Society Initiative.

Conservation & Development Subcommittee
Department of Economic and Community Development

Nonprofit organizations are a major source of Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation. Artists and cultural organizations enrich the quality of life for every community in Connecticut and contribute substantially to our economy. The Alliance supports the following legislative recommendations (in alignment with the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition, Shoreline Arts Alliance and the Connecticut Arts Alliance):

  • Within the CT Tourism Fund: Dedicate and codify 40% to Arts + Culture and 60% to Tourism;
  • Change the name from the “Tourism Fund” to the “Arts, Culture and Tourism Fund”;
  • Allocate 25% of existing Lodging Tax into the Tourism Fund (the current allocation of the lodgin tax is 10%);
  • Ensure that any excess revenue in the Tourism Fund is appropriated annually and shared equally among all line items, which includes “Arts Commission” (Office of the Arts), “Statewide Tourism Marketing” (Office of Tourism), CT Humanities, and direct line items to arts, cultural and tourism entities and consortiums; do not add new line items;
  • Ensure the Administration and legislators consult with CT Arts Alliance and CT Tourism Coalition for decisions that impact the arts, cultural, and tourism industries; and
  • Encourage the Tourism Fund, as a whole, to have additional and new dedicated revenue sources without increasing the Lodging Tax rate.

Department of Housing

Please oppose the Governor’s proposal to cut $1.2 million from Housing/Homeless Services. The Governor’s budget says this cut is to “reflect current expenditure levels.” We respectfully request the Committee instead use this funding to increase rates and grants for providers.

Thank you for your consideration. Please contact me with any questions or recommendations:

Julia Z. Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy | JWilcox@ctnonprofitalliance.org