Weekly Update August 18

August 18, 2023

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Dear Neighbor,

In July, I visited Washington D.C. for the White House States Convening on Child Care. I joined nearly 100  state legislators from 41 states, including a few from Connecticut, to discuss childcare policy achievements from our respective legislative sessions. We explored different legislative strategies to make childcare more affordable for working families, increase childcare provider supply, and improve job quality for childcare workers. It was an absolute joy to be surrounded by likeminded lawmakers from around the country and I was honored to be invited. 

Connecticut is a Leader on Tax Relief
My colleagues and I delivered on our promise to lower taxes for those who need the most help. According to a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Connecticut is a leader on tax relief for low- and middle-income earners. While other states cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations, Connecticut stands out for providing nearly $500 million in relief for individuals and families.
Below are some of the highlights of tax relief we passed this year:
  • Lowering the income tax rates to save many middle-class households $300-$500 a year
  • Raising the state income tax credit from 30.5% to 40% of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit - providing $210 on average for households earning less than $60,000 per year

Expanding an existing exemption for certain pension and annuity earnings, providing additional financial security for retirees and those close to retirement.

We know that when our most vulnerable get the support they deserve, they can support Connecticut's continued growth.

We know that when our most vulnerable get the support they deserve, they can support Connecticut's continued growth.

Probate Court Grants available for Kinship Guardians

Attention Probate Court-appointed kinship guardians caring for children - you may be eligible for thousands of dollars in grants to help with housing, food and transportation, as well as summer camp and other enrichment activities. 

The Kinship Fund awards grants of up to $550 a child -- or $2,200 a family – a year to help pay for necessities such as eyeglasses and clothing, or for enrichment activities such as summer camp, art supplies or creative books.

The Respite Fund helps guardians with the cost of child care, rent, transportation and food. These grants are capped at $2,200 a year.

Guardians can apply for both funds, though a separate application for each is required. Amounts awarded to residents are determined by their local Probate Court.

You can find grant applications online or by contacting your local Probate Court.

 NHCOG awarded $1.2 Million from HRSA
The Northwest Hills Council of Governments, Community Health &  Wellness Center of Greater Torrington (CHWC), McCall Behavioral Health Network, and Greenwoods Counseling & Referrals, Inc., announced that the organizations have entered into a 4-year strategic partnership that will improve and increase access to behavioral healthcare treatment and services for adolescents ages 13 to 18 residing in the Northwest corner of the state. With $300k per year for the next 4 years, they will establish the Northwest Hills Community Health Network of CT, which will focus on increasing access to adolescent behavioral health services throughout our region.
Unemployment Benefits Fraud & Identity Theft

The pandemic created an influx of fraudulent activity across the nation - primarily unemployment claims submitted using stolen identities - and Connecticut was not immune. Connecticut and eight other states are currently experiencing another uptick in fraudulent applications.

If you didn’t file for unemployment and received a 1099 form or monetary determination letter, you may be a victim of identity theft. Submit the CTDOL ID Theft Report Form immediately to report it (rb.gy/fuh3m). A CTDOL staff person will respond to your report.

The Connecticut Department of Labor continues to aggressively protect personal information by implementing safeguards, promoting resources, and educating claimants and Connecticut employers about fraud. 
🌐 Important Links:
Connecticut Department of Labor: ct.gov/dol
Identity Theft Protection Form: rb.gy/fuh3m
CTDOL Integrity Unit: rb.gy/5iv0g

Protections for the Elderly
During session, we successfully passed legislation that protects and supports individuals in the state who are in the twilight years of their life. Unfortunately, as the elderly population steadily rises, scam attempts against that community also increases. To help shield our older residents from being victimized, we passed  PA 23-161, AN ACT CONCERNING FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION OF SENIOR CITIZENS.

Starting July 1, 2024, banks and credit unions will have the power to temporarily suspend or hold transactions involving an account of an adult over the age of 60 if there is a reasonable suspicion of financial exploitation for up to 45 days.

Resources for the Upcoming School Year
It’s that time again where we start winding down the summer and begin back-to-school preparations; I want to share news and events that will ease that transition for the upcoming school year.

Sales Tax Free Week

Connecticut's 2023 Sales Tax Free Week begins on Sunday, August 20 and runs through Saturday, August 26. This is a great opportunity to take the kids back-to-school shopping or to treat yourself or your loved ones while saving money.
Many retailers in Connecticut offer additional discounts on clothing and footwear during Sales Tax Free Week, providing consumers with even more savings.

During this sales tax holiday, most clothing and footwear items priced under $100 are exempt from the Connecticut sales tax. The exemption during Sales Tax Free Week applies to each eligible item costing under $100, regardless of how many of those items are sold to a customer in the same transaction. The tax holiday applies to purchases made in-store, online, mail-order, and over the phone.

More information about Connecticut’s Sales Tax Holiday, including a list of exempt and taxable items, is available on the Department of Revenue Services website.

Expansion of Free School Meals Program

Hunger and the stigma of not being able to afford school meals is one of the biggest hurdles to learning. That is why I am pleased to report that Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene M. Russell-Tucker announced plans to expand Connecticut’s free school meals program for the 2023-2024 school year, enabling more students to receive access to nutritious breakfast and/or lunch at no additional cost to them or their families.

Investments in Education

We made historic investments in education with millions of additional dollars allocated in the budget and a number of legislative measures that enhance Connecticut’s educational system

I will continue to support education as one of the most cost-effective investments we can make for the future of our state.

 Torrington Receives State Grant
I am thrilled to announce that the City of Torrington is set receive state funding from the Connecticut Communities Challenge Grant program. 

Administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), the program was created in 2021 with the purpose of funding a wide range of revitalization projects that will spur the growth of new jobs. This third round of grants leverages approximately $105 million in non-state dollars.

Torrington is set to receive a $1,400,000 grant award for the  Sophia Building – Mixed Use Affordable Housing Adaptive Reuse Project. This project, part of Torrington’s Affordable Housing Implementation Strategy, will transform eight currently uninhabitable apartments to 17 high-quality units, five of which will be designated affordable, and one will be ADA accessible on the ground floor. Four rundown ground-floor commercial spaces will be revitalized, and the façade on the historic Sophia Building will be restored.


Michelle Cook

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