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Poverty on the Rise in the Nutmeg State

That, plus updates on jobs, education, and aging in place from area state legislators.

Hartford is getting hectic — and the General Assembly isn’t even in session.

Here’s a topic-by-topic snapshot of some Connecticut trends, what’s on the legislative agenda, what some nonprofits are doing, and what lawmakers are hoping to tackle.

Aging

Throughout the Nutmeg State more senior citizens want to stay home — not on a Saturday night, but from nursing homes and assisted living. That’s significant since Connecticut is the 7th-oldest state in the nation. And the state’s 65 and older population is expected to grow 64 percent from 2006 to 2030.

As such many “aging in place” initiatives provide seniors with support services so they can stay in their own homes. But because these programs don’t use government funding, they need members to stay open.

Ken Dartley of Wilton is one of the founders/presidents of Wilton’s Stay at Home. Members pay an annual fee to access transportation and grocery shopping assistance as well as companionship.

Staying Put in New Canaan and At Home in Greenwich are two others that offer similar services for paying members.

“Nonprofits are a major factor in providing services that government can’t. Often government services are twice as expensive and not as efficient,” said State Sen. Toni Boucher, a Republican representing Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Weston, Westport and Wilton.

The Connecticut Commission on Aging, or CCA, wants the state to encourage people to plan for their future needs. The agency suggests working with public and private partners to promote and enhance private payer options.

“The goal should be to promote personal responsibility for one’s long-term care needs,” according to CCA. Most people don’t plan and “erroneously believe that Medicare will pay for these costs."

Also helping out is the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging, which serves Darien, Easton, Trumbull, Stratford, Monroe, Weston, Westport, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk and Wilton.

These kinds of programs are essential, they are really neighbor helping neighbor, said state Sen. Bob Duff, a Democrat representing Norwalk and Darien in the 25th Senate District.

Education

Back to school isn’t just for Connecticut students: the General Assembly knows it has a lot of homework regarding the achievement gap and the issue of teacher evaluations.

State Rep. Gail Lavielle a Republican representing Wilton and parts of Norwalk, said people could expect that lawmakers will turn their attention to the Education Cost Sharing Formula. That’s likely to be reviewed. There’s a task force that is reviewing the formula and it’s meeting once a month.

“This isn’t the first time they’ve tackled it, but they never manage to solve it,” Lavielle said.

In addition, expect to see the General Assembly consider teacher evaluations and tenure. In short, the whole idea of "last in, first out" will get a closer look, she said.

“When layoffs are an issue should you lay someone off just because they’re new?” Lavielle asked.

Jobs

While the special session on jobs will be held Oct. 26, exactly what the session will accomplish or discuss remains unclear. And that’s something both on which both parties agree.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick a Republican representing Fairifeld, and Duff, said they still don’t know what the governor plans.

If the Oct. 6 Economic Summit is any indication some of the agenda will include ways to keep the state’s educated workforce here.

“Too often today, businesses think our state’s best days are behind it. That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a written statement. “If anything, the refrain I heard on my Jobs Tour was that businesses want to do business here, workers want to live here and they want to contribute to our economy, so long as we can figure out ways to jumpstart the economy and create new jobs for the 21st century.”

The Economy

Poverty in the Nutmeg State continues to rise, according to Connecticut Voices for Children a non-profit think tank. At least 10.1 percent of residents had incomes under the Federal Poverty Level, up from 9.4 percent in 2009.

Median household income also fell statewide, declining from an estimated $68,174 in 2009 to $64,032 in 2010. Estimates of poverty rates varied significantly across Connecticut’s cities: Norwalk with 7.3 percent and Stamford with 12.1 percent. Estimates were only available for cities with populations over 65,000.

“Connecticut’s rising poverty, falling income, and high unemployment reinforce the need for state policymakers to develop a statewide plan to create good-paying jobs and to restart our economic engine,” said Jamey Bell, executive director at Connecticut Voices for Children.

Connecticut Voices supports the creation of a state Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, this year by Connecticut lawmakers and the governor.

“The new state EITC will provide a significant boost for low-income families and put more money directly into the hands of people working hard to reach the middle class,” said Wade Gibson, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.

Darien Taxpayer October 03, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Where is Rep Terrie Wood?? Why don't we ever see any of her comments on State matters? Sen Boucher and Reps Lavielle and Kupchik weigh in consistently on current topics as a matter of course. I have noted this for quite some time. Where is Rep Terrie Wood?? I'm beginning to think she is not representing Darien's constituents, and their tax dollars, very well.
Ed Thomas October 03, 2011 at 05:12 PM
Government can't create jobs. Individual Businesses do. If they lowered the taxes and cut back the regulations, businesses would indeed create more jobs. What a moronic quote from 'his arrogance' Gov. Malloy. Businesses want to do business in CT. Yeah right. That's why they're leaving for other states that have lower taxes and less regulation. That's why CT is last out of all 50 states in the creation of new jobs in the each of past five years. That's why a recent study done by Forbes shows the Bridgeport-Norwalk-Stamford metro area as dead last among major metro areas across the United States. What is this idiot smoking? Does he think people in the state of Connecticut are stupid?
Cathryn J. Prince October 04, 2011 at 04:32 PM
HI Darien Taxpayer, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Rep. Wood has been interviewed and quoted on several Capitol DisPatch stories. However, I will take note of your concern.

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