A Recap of Middlesex County’s 2022 Legislative Forum
Every year, The CT Nonprofit Alliance, Middlesex United Way, Gilead Community Services, Kuhn Employment Opportunities, and MARC Community Resources come together to host a Nonprofit Legislative Forum. With the help of other nonprofits across Central Connecticut, this forum provides a significant opportunity to discuss their latest issues and concerns with their legislators before heading into the legislative session.
This year, over 100 people attended, and five local senators and representatives joined the conversation, including Rep. Christine Palm, Rep. Quentin Phipps, Rep. Hilda Santiago, Rep. Michael Winkler, and Senator Paul Cicarella. Mayor Ben Florsheim also joined them in support of their voice.
“There are long-running conversations this group is having that are coming to a head. I am glad to be working with you towards this goal,” says Mayor Florsheim. “The clients you serve in our community deserve better economic opportunities, better access to health and well-being, and better resources to thrive.”
They called on legislators to support their most crucial call to action this year. Ben Shaiken, Director of Government Relations at The CT Nonprofit Alliance, expressed his gratitude for the 4% increase in funding for nonprofits in 2021, even though some are still waiting to receive it. Yet, he continues to explain that inflation has risen 5.9% since.
“Even with the 4% increase, we are already behind where we were at the beginning of last year,” states Shaiken. “Our studies have found that it’s been extremely difficult [for nonprofits] to recruit employees this past year. This comes at a time when the demand for nonprofit services is going up. So, where does that leave us? It all adds up to a crisis for Connecticut’s community nonprofits.”
The CT Nonprofit Alliance has developed a multi-year plan to address many years of underfunding, including advocating for at least an 8% funding increase in the Fiscal Year of 2023 to finish what was started in the Fiscal Year of 2022. It would be the first step in the process of making nonprofits whole.
Rep. Christine Palm’s initial response expressed a need for systematic change. “We shouldn’t have to have a pandemic, or a great year, or some reason, to give you what you are owed and deserved. We need to have a systemic process for compensating you for the value that you provide.”
Rep. Quentin Phipps also supported Palm’s response, affirming that “[t]here has been no champion for nonprofits. The work [your doing] is quality work. If all of you weren’t doing it, there would be no one making sure there is a safety net for our most vulnerable populations.”
While most legislators have committed to supporting their request for increased funding, they made it clear that nonprofits need to provide their legislators with precise details and action steps for making this happen.
Other topics of concern discussed were the denial of tax exemption requests related to housing, recommendations for agencies still awaiting funding from last year’s increase, and using a Cost-Of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) funding approach to avoid increases only focusing on wages.
While some of these topics lacked concrete answers, the forum overall was a successful opportunity to connect agencies, constituents, and legislators on what matters most to nonprofits at this time. Dan Osborne, CEO of Gilead Community Services and primary moderator of the forum, concluded that “the dialogue was productive, and it’s clear we have following up to do.”
To learn more about the participating agencies, their services, and advocacy surrounding nonprofits, you can visit their websites listed below:
The Coalition on Housing and Homelessness
New England Residential Services