In 2010, the work of the task force led to legislation meant to protect Connecticut's most vulnerable families. On May 2, 2011, the panel reconvened to get status reports from the agencies tasked with implementing the legislation.
In addition, the task force heard information on the latest crisis for families devastated by the recession: the looming expiration of their unemployment benefits. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided for the extension of unemployment benefits nationwide by giving many Americans a total of 99 weeks in benefits. But now these extensions are close to expiring, leaving many of the “99’ers” in crisis.
The scope of this crisis in Connecticut was detailed in presentations by Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace Inc., and Thomas Phillips, president and CEO of Capital Workforce Partners as well as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors' Workforce Development Council.
Representative Diana Urban of North Stonington, co-chair of the Task Force, took note of a requirement in the bill that a leadership team from across state agencies meet regularly to create a unified government response to such matters as hunger and homelessness when the state unemployment rate reaches 8 percent or higher. "We know we're climbing out of this recession," she said, "but we're looking at an unemployment rate that is still above 8 percent, so this is an ongoing effort."
Senator Terry Gerratana of New Britain, who was recently named the other co-chair of the Task Force, noted that the legislation was the first of its kind in the nation and is being used as a model in other states. "I am eagar to learn how far we've come in implementation," she said.
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