February 15, 2019

GOP pitches bills on workforce development, job training

HBJ Photo | Bill Morgan
HBJ Photo | Bill Morgan
Faculty and students interact during a computer numerical controlled course at Goodwin College. Goodwin and EDAC Technologies in Cheshire have partnered on a program to groom future manufacturing workers.
Photo | Contributed
Len Fasano, Senate Republican leader.

Senate Republicans unveiled a second wave of legislation Thursday they say would lift barriers to employment, increase job training and lighten the burden for first-time homebuyers.

The seven bills were rolled out by the minority Republican Caucus as part of its three-day effort to underscore paths to address major issues facing Connecticut. A third group of legislation, centered on health care, will be aired Friday by GOP members at the state Capitol's Legislative Office Building at 11 a.m.

Among Thursday's proposals, S.B. 294 would provide incentives for families receiving federal aid under the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) program to seek employment.

It's angled to extend certain benefits a year after an individual reenters the workplace, ensuring they would not immediately lose all benefits upon gaining employment, GOP officials said.

In Connecticut, the TANF funds support the state's Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Social Services.

Republican lawmakers are also pursuing S.B. 290, which would expand eligibility for child care subsidies to working parents whose incomes are between 50 percent to 75 percent of the state median income.

Connecticut's child-care subsidy program, Rocky Hill-based Care 4 Kids, currently grants subsidies to families with less than 50 percent of the state median income.

Under S.B. 685, a new public-private partnership would work to spur apprenticeship and recruiting opportunities. It would be modeled after the Connecticut Manufacturing Committee, which educates middle and high school students about careers in manufacturing.

S.B. 365 would also look to adopt new apprenticeship models mirrored after successful training programs achieved in Germany and Switzerland, and S.B. 242 aims to extend the manufacturing apprenticeship tax credit to larger companies.

Another measure, S.B. 275, would require the Board of Regents for Higher Education and UConn's board of trustees to study workforce development issues facing Connecticut's insurance sector at public institutions of higher education.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) said Connecticut has a highly educated workforce but "can and should do more to empower people to be successful in the workforce and provide for their families."

"As the insurance capital, Connecticut should work to ensure that public institutions of higher education are meeting the workforce needs of the insurance industry," GOP officials said in a summary detailing the proposals.

Senate Republicans are also looking to lighten the burden for those seeking to purchase their first home.

S.B. 602 would establish a credit against the personal income tax for qualifying first-time homebuyers. The bill calls to establish a credit worth up to $2,000 against the personal income tax for homebuyers who deposited funds in accounts designated for the purchase of their first home.

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