H.B. 6439 An Act Concerning The State Budget For The Biennium Ending June Thirtieth, 2023, And Making Appropriations Therefor – DOC & Judicial
DATE: February 26, 2021
TO: Appropriations Committee
FROM: Julia Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy, The Alliance
RE: H.B. 6439 An Act Concerning the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June Thirtieth, 2023, and Making Appropriations Therefor
Judicial & Corrections Budgets
Good evening, Senator Osten, Representative Walker, Senator Miner, Representative France and distinguished members of the Appropriations Committee:
My name is Julia Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy at the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance (The Alliance). The Alliance is the statewide advocacy organization representing the nonprofit sector. Community nonprofits provide essential services to over half a million individuals and families in Connecticut every year, and employ 14% of Connecticut’s workforce, improving the quality of life in communities across the State.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on H.B. 6439 An Act Concerning the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June Thirtieth, 2023, and Making Appropriations Therefor.
We respectfully request that the legislature increase funding by $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. We urge you to please consider the following recommendations:
- Commit to increasing funding by the full $461 million, or 28%, by Fiscal Year 2026;
- Appropriate $128 million (a state net of $67 million after federal reimbursement) in new funding for community nonprofits in Fiscal Year 2022, a 7% increase;
- Index increases to inflation, to ensure that state funding will keep pace with increased costs in the future.
- Hold nonprofits financially harmless from the impact of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the impact of inadequate funding for nonprofit services and brought unanticipated and unbudgeted costs and operational challenges for many community nonprofits, such as:
- Procuring expensive and hard to find Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies;
- Providing hazard pay for essential workers on the front lines with a higher risk of exposure;
- Creating telehealth services seemingly overnight, and purchasing necessary computers, cybersecurity, online meeting platforms and training for both staff and people receiving services.
- Many community nonprofits never closed their doors even as the pandemic worsened.
Judicial & Corrections
Community Justice providers support justice-involved individuals and their families, as well as support to survivors of crime. 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 related to criminal justice reform in Connecticut.
According to the January 2021 OPM Monthly Indicators Report, community providers are serving approximately 4,000 people in programs which are funded by Department of Corrections – a greater than 30% increase from 2014. Thousands more receive services through providers that contract with the Court Support Services Division of 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 these demands have increased over time, funding has been cut by nearly 15%, or $5.8 million (with no increase in the proposed budget for 2022-2023). Throughout the pandemic, nonprofit providers have played essential roles in the ability of the DOC and CSSD, to safely and securely manage the justice- involved population. They have worked tirelessly with their state agency partners, to continue to manage the programmatic needs, as well as the Covid-related healthcare needs of both clients and staff. Providers have developed quarantine and/or isolation space as required, in addition to managing the additional responsibilities when CDC protocol prevented clients from leaving the residential facilities. The commitment of the nonprofit provider community greatly enhanced the ability of the DOC and CSSD/JUD, to contain the COVID-19 positivity rate within community programs.
Department of Correction
We commend the Governor for his commitment to the closure of Northern Correctional Institution and additional units and facilities, as outlined in the CREATES savings initiative, addressing both expense savings and revenue maximization. These proposals will achieve savings of $20 million in FY2022 and $46.9 million in FY2023. However, the proposed budget does not appropriate these savings to further enhance the necessary criminal justice reforms. The Alliance urges the legislature to reinvest these savings into programs that focus on recidivism reduction, prison alternatives, and support for victims of crime – in keeping with the nationally-recognized “Justice Reinvestment Reform” initiatives.
In addition, please support the proposed reduction in cost for inmate telephone calls in the Governor’s budget. The exorbitant cost for this critical communication negatively impacts the ability for incarcerated men and women to remain in contact with their families and supports within the community. These communications are essential components to successful reentry.
Court Support Services Division
The Alliance’s request to increase funding by $461 million over the next five years includes nonprofit providers who partner with the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) of the Judicial Branch to provide essential services including alternatives to incarceration, intervention, prevention and much more.
Please oppose the reduction of $1 million from the consolidation of the Youthful Offender Services line item into the Juvenile Alternative Incarceration line item. The consolidation proposal cuts $1 million from the total of both lines, funding that is desperately needed to continue these critical, prevention services.
Please also oppose the reduction of $200,000 to the Alternative to Incarceration (AIC) line item. While some closures of under-utilized programs are scheduled to take place, the cost savings should be reinvested to strengthen the essential network of continuing AIC services.
Thank you again for the opportunity to provide testimony this evening. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or recommendations.
Julia Z. Wilcox, Manager of Advocacy & Public Policy
Appendix: White Paper: Increase Funding by $461 Million for Community Nonprofits
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