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.