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State Senator

Marilyn Moore

Representing Bridgeport, Monroe & Trumbull

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Sen. Moore Leads Joint Informational Forum with 2Gen Working Group and Human Services Committee on Solutions to the Effects of Benefits Cliffs

HARTFORD, CT – Today, from the Legislative Office Building, state Senator Marilyn Moore (D-Bridgeport) led a joint informational forum with the Human Services Committee and the newly-formed 2Gen Working Group to discuss legislative solutions to the detrimental effects benefit cliffs have on Connecticut working families. Sen. Moore, who is Senate Chair of the Human Services Committee, said there is much work to be done this legislative session to address this issue. The legislative session begins on Wednesday, February 5.

"Benefits Cliffs are an impediment to a person's climb out of poverty and a systemic flaw in our state that must be addressed and corrected," said Sen. Moore. "No family should have to choose between financial or career advancements and the necessary services that are helping them stay afloat. Benefits cliffs disincentives work and positions individuals and their families for long-lasting poverty. I am committed to finding solutions to right this wrong and ensure that no one has to make the tough choices brought on by the cliff effect."

Benefits cliffs are affecting families across the state. They are abrupt losses in public benefits due to small increases in income. They force individuals looking to improve their financial standing to make difficult choices concerning whether a pay increase is worth a loss of essential services, as the wage increase does not keep pace with the services lost. This acts as a disincentive to work, which negatively impacts the employee, their family and our economy.

As Connecticut residents experience the "cliff effect," and are pushed farther away from upward financial mobility, our state's labor pool takes a dive as well. Benefits cliffs limit opportunity for families and businesses, and impact government bottom lines. Employers are finding that employees are refusing wage and position advances, and that some job applicants are turning down positions, in both cases to prevent losing critical benefits such as child care and health care.

The result is a smaller available pool of workers to fill vacancies, contributing to the labor shortage in many communities and stymying the state’s economic growth. Government loses potential tax revenue from wages while continuing to provide critical financial support to families.

Shanay Fulton, a Middletown resident and 2Gen Working Group member said she knows all too well the impact of the cliff effect. Fulton is a single mother, a domestic violence survivor and was once homeless. As she attempted to pull herself out of poverty, the cliff effect awaited her at every turn.

"If I got more hours at my job, my Section 8 would go up, if my pay rate increased it was the same thing. I also couldn't get food stamps and those are very impactful," she said. "When you get to a place where you think you're good, you lose things and you can't get back on your feet. What else can I do? Should I not work or get paid the bare minimum? I can't get to a better place in life if I do that. That’s what affected me the most, especially as a single mom."

Fulton provided testimony as the Human Services Committee and 2Gen Working group discussed several ways to correct this issue. They also heard from mothers, the Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate committee, members from the state’s philanthropy community and other experts on the impact of the cliff effect. Ideas like creating a benefits calculator to assists parents in making employment decisions were discussed, among other possible solutions. Through Connecticut’s 2Gen Initiative, which Sen. Moore established, a bipartisan, public-private benefits cliffs working group was formed to gather research and develop policy options, both short and long term, focused on whole family solutions.

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