October 29, 2013/News

Democrats Invest in Our Kids

Count Me In for Great Schools

Connecticut Democrats are working hard to ensure Connecticut is one of the best places in the nation to be a kid. Our top priorities? Education, health care and public safety.

In fact, in an effort to make it easier for parents to find and access services that help children, this summer the Governor signed an executive order establishing the Office of Early Childhood. The Office brings together under one roof all Connecticut government services for children: the Department of Education’s School Readiness program, the Department of Social Services’ Care for Kids, the Children’s Trust Fund, the Department of Public Health’s child care licensing program, the Department of Developmental Services’ Birth to 3 program, and the Board of Regents’ Charts a Course program.

Education: Connecticut is investing more money in education.

  • The budget passed in Governor Malloy’s first term increased funding for child care services by $3.8 million.

  • The education reform bill increased early childhood education spending by $6.8 million annually, expanding preschool access to 1,000 more 3 and 4-year-olds.

  • The fiscal year 2012-2013 budget also increased education funding by more than $237 million; 92 percent of those resources went toward the lowest-performing schools.

Democrats know that the best thing we can do to give our kids a quality education is support our teachers. That’s why last year’s budget also included a $3.5 million investment in our teachers. This year’s budget provides more than $10 million for teacher talent development.

During the recent GOP shutdown, Governor Malloy allocated $800,000 to the Bridgeport Head Start so it could keep serving more than 1,200 preschoolers.

Health Care: In July 2011, Governor Malloy signed legislation establishing a Connecticut health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. The health exchange has already enrolled more than 3,000 people and is winning praise for its usability.

  • According to an April 2011 RAND study, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, the number of Connecticut residents without insurance in 2016 will be about half of what it would have been in absence of the law.

  • According to the Urban Institute and Connecticut Health Foundation, the ACA will reduce by half the percentage of uninsured African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans, thereby contributing to health equity.

Democrats at the state and federal levels have supported the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA while Republicans have consistently stood in the way. Under the ACA, kids in Connecticut will be entitled to preventative services with no cost sharing. These include:

  • Screenings for autism and other developmental disorders

  • Tests for vision and hearing problems, and

  • Standard childhood vaccinations.

In 2011, the Obama Administration awarded our state a $5.2 million performance bonus for “ongoing and strong efforts to identify and enroll” children in public health care coverage, including the implementation of “presumptive eligibility” as part of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Through presumptive eligibility, children screened and deemed eligible at community health centers can receive medical services before the formal eligibility process is completed.

Safety: In December 2012, Governor Malloy signed legislation that allowed LoCIP funds to be used to “improvements to emergency communications systems and building security systems, including for schools.” This September, Governor Malloy authorized the first round of school-security grants. More than 600 public schools applied for money to install items and additions like security cameras, bullet-proof glass, panic buttons and safe rooms, investments that totaled $21 million.