Monday, August 30, 2010

Employment Recommendations from 2009

On Friday, September 11, 2009 Carol Peeples (Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition), Mary Carraher (Project Self-Sufficiency), Kathy Otten (Colorado Workforce Board) and Caher Robert (Denver Women’s Commission) met to discussion issues and potential 2010 Legislation.

Potential 2010 Legislation:
  • “Safe Hiring Act”- To remove legal barriers to employment by those exiting the criminal justice system. Elements could include:
    Ban on blanket employment policies like “no felons need apply”.
    Legal protection for employers limiting any liability for decision to hire felons to be only equal to liability for other employees.
    Prohibit felon check box on applications. Prohibit inquiring about felon status until the interview stage.
  • State Earned Income Tax Credit – Restore the State Earned Income Tax Credit for low wage workers to the #1 TABOR Refund mechanism. This would have not immediate impact due to low state revenues, but could result in low wage workers receiving their State EITC years earlier than the current situation. It should have no fiscal note in any case since it just reorders the refunding of TABOR excess revenues.
    (The Colorado State Earned Income Tax Credit exists in the law as equivalent to 10% of the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit. It was created as a companion bill to the permanent reductions in the Colorado State Income tax rates in 1999 and 2000. Those income tax rate reductions were permanent, but the EITC was set up as a TABOR refund mechanism. It was paid to low-wage Colorado families in 1999, 2000 and 2001but not since then. A bill to make the State EITC permanent would have a fiscal note of about $50 million and would actually put up to about $450./year in people’s pockets. The legislature could choose to fund the EITC in a revenue neutral way by abolishing a different permanent tax credit or tax exemption to replace the revenue—though obviously those interests affected would fight that. In 2005 HB 1317 created a new TABOR Refund mechanism—an additional cut in the State income tax rate from 4.63 to 4.5%. This bill had the effect of bumping the EITC from first place in TABOR refund mechanism to second place. A bill to restore the EITC as first TABOR refund mechanism should not have a fiscal note as TABOR refunds are not anticipated for the next few years.)

    Issues for Further Investigation:
  • Child Care – Child care is a critical work support for parents of young children. Due to its nature child care is expensive relative to the income of low wage workers ( including the child care providers themselves.) Colorado Child Care Assistance Program serves many low wage families, yet serves only about one out of every six eligible families due in part to inadequate funding relative to the needs. Many counties have waiting lists.
    Our subcommittee felt further investigation was needed of four points:
    *Does the State have money in Child Care Reserves?
    *Is there any money reverting back to the TANF Long Term Reserve that could be used for additional Child Care funding? Does the 30% cap on child care transfers apply to TANF monies in the long term reserve? It takes legislative action to allocate money from TANF Long Term Reserve.
    *Twelve month continuous eligibility for CCCAP would eliminate some of the panic in the lives of low income families and give time to troubleshoot paperwork and computer problems that frequent result in losing childcare overnight. It would reduce the burden on State Human Service staff, low income parents and their employers. Is this feasible?
  • As a matter of fairness the State should make the Child Care Tax Credit truly refundable, rather than a percentage of the non-refundable Federal Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. There is no logical reason why the poorest of workers who are paying for child care should not qualify for this credit because their incomes are too low. Most low wage workers DO NOT get subsidize child care.
  • Job Training – While the Task Force does have a Committee on Education, we are also concerned about very short term, job specific training. Training programs of 2-3 weeks can help prepare some to compete for a different job. Many parents cannot take advantage of education and training opportunities due to lack of child care. This could be address by training as part of the work experience or by funding child care for employment and training, as is sometimes done with TANF recipients.

Employment Workgroup Meeting August 31st

This is to remind you that the next meeting for the subcommittee focusing on employment for the Economic Opportunity and Poverty Reduction Task Force will meet on Tuesday, August 31st. We will meet from 1-3.

We will meet in the Community Room (on your right as you walk in the front door) at the Denver Inner City Parish building.

Address is 1212 Mariposa Street, across the street from Lincoln Park.

Parking is free in our parking lot and along the sidewalk next to the park.

Proposed agenda topics: Colorado prosperity mapping, the value of case management continuum programs, research into city contracts, child care assistance policies, paid sick days and a review of the policy recommendations State of Working Colorado 2009.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Economic Opportunity Poverty Reduction Task Force meeting Grand Junction

Check here on Thursday, Aug. 26 for a live chat from the meeting in Grant Junction. We will be taking questions and comments from all over the state during the meeting, so if you would like to participate, sign up for a reminder email and then follow the links to type your responses. Jenn Gross will moderate the "chat room" and make sure that your voice is heard. The Grand Junction meeting starts at 1:30 pm with a presentation on Proposed Amendments 60 and 61.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Today's reading list

Hi all. Today's reading centers around Elizabeth Warren and the potential that she can bring to fiscal oversight. The work that she can do if she is nominated and confirmed as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has direct impact on us.

Both articles are from AlterNet.

Elizabeth Warren and AIG:

How Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can protect consumers from banking overdraft abuses:

Task Force Meeting August 26 in Grand Junction


AUGUST 26, 2010
2:30 PM -5:00 PM

AT 1:30 PM

Grand Valley Catholic Outreach
245 South 1st Street
Grand Junction, CO 81501-2201
(970) 241-3658

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Benefit funds depleted

Hi readers. Today's articles are one each local and national about the depletion of benefits.

From the Denver Post on Monday August 16th:

And from the Washington Post blog section on Friday July 30th:

more to come . . .

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some interesting articles

To keep us motivated during these late summer days, I will post a couple of articles each day for the next few days from my meanderings around the internet related to our work with the task force. Should any of you find articles of relevance, please forward the links and I will post them so that we all may read them.

I hope that you find these of interest and that they add to your perspective.

First, poverty and food affordability/accessibility amongst African refugees in metro Denver:

And, what actually happens when the government bails out a giant financial institution: