Highlights of the session:
Budget: It could have been a whole lot worse... for the most part, the safety net was protected. Many of the cuts and program eliminations originally proposed by the Governor were spared by the Appropriations Committee under the able leadership of Senator Harp and Representative Walker.
Of course we all recognize that this budget is based on assumed savings of $1.6 billion from a deal between the Administration and state employee unions. Bargaining units have begun voting on the concession package and are expected to complete voting later this month (approximately June 24). At that time we will know if the FY 12-13 budget gap is closed or if we will be facing additional program and service reductions. The Governor and Secretary of OPM have said that failure by the unions to ratify the agreement will result in widespread layoffs (more than the 4700 proposed in the “Plan B” budget), but would also almost certainly require reductions to health and human services provided by nonprofits.
Health Care Reform: HB 6308, An Act Concerning Healthcare Reform implemented portions of both the Speaker’s pooling bill and SustiNet. This bill now awaits the Governor’s signature. The bill calls for the creation of a SustiNet Healthcare Cabinet within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to advise the Governor on the development of an integrated healthcare system including the feasibility of implementing a basic health program option allowed under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The pooling portion of this bill permits nonprofits with public funding to apply beginning July 1, 2013, to “partnership plans” that will be developed by the State Comptroller. Eligible nonprofits must have either a Purchase-of-Service contract or, if they do not hold a POS contract, they must receive 50% or more of their annual revenue from government grants or funds (this is can be a combination of federal, state and local dollars). Details are not yet available on the partnership plans.
Below are a few specific details:The bill requires the comptroller to offer coverage under a partnership plan to certain employer groups that submit an application that is approved under the bill's provisions. He must offer coverage to:
1. nonstate public employers and their retirees beginning January 1, 2012 and
2. nonprofit employers and their retirees beginning January 1, 2013.
The bill specifies that the comptroller does not have to offer coverage from every partnership plan offered to every employer. It allows the comptroller to offer partnership plans on a fully-insured or risk-pooled basis at his discretion. Any insurer, health maintenance organization or entity with which he contracts and any fully insured plan offered is subject to state insurance laws.
A “nonprofit employer” is a (1) nonprofit corporation organized under federal law (26 USC 501) that (a) has a purchase of service contract or (b) receives 50% or more of its gross annual revenue from government grants or funding or (2) tax-exempt labor or agricultural organization under federal law (26 USC 501(c)(5)).
A “partnership plan” is a health care benefit plan offered by the comptroller to nonstate public employers or nonprofit employers under the bill.
Neighborhood Assistance Act: Thanks to the leadership of Senator Looney and the chairs of the Commerce Committee we finally saw the modifications made this year via HB 6525 (sections 27-28). This bill awaits the Governor’s signature.
The bill extends the NAA tax credit eligibility to companies subject to the state's $250 business entity tax. These companies include S corporations, limited liability companies, limited liability partnerships, and limited partnerships. The bill also increases from $75,000 to $150,000 the total amount of credits that a company may claim per year under the NAA. A company generally receives a credit of 60% of its investment up to the annual maximum. Finally, the bill eliminates the requirement that to be eligible for NAA tax credits, a company's total charitable contributions for the year that it is seeking the credit, including contributions made to programs eligible under the NAA, must at least equal its total contributions in the previous year. There remains a cap of $5 million on the total credits available.
CT Nonprofits appreciates the advocacy of all of our members who took the time to contact legislators about supporting these important modifications. In particular, we would like to recognize Bob Fishman, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation Association of CT and Al May, Director of Development at Christian Community Action for their efforts.
Estate Tax/Estate tax lien release certificates: The estate tax has long been viewed as an incentive to philanthropic giving. Public Act 11-6 lowers the estate tax threshold from $3.5 million to $2 million for estates of those who die on or after January 1, 2011. This bill validates probate court lien release certificates issued and recorded in town records where the property is located before May 4, 2011 for estates of those who died on or after January 1, 2011, and whose CT taxable estates were valued at $2-$3.5 million. This bill is effective upon passage and applicable to estates of those dying on or after January 1, 2011.
The Nonprofit Cabinet, along with CT Nonprofits and CCPA, submitted HB 6612 to the Human Services Committee to require OPM and the Nonprofit Liaison to the Governor to study the feasibility of establishing a state-wide data warehouse for the storage of public and private health and human services data to enable each state agency to track data trends, operate more efficiently and make recommendations for policy changes. CT Nonprofits will continue to urge OPM to implement more of the recommendations.
S.B.No.417: ‘AN ACT ELIMINATING THE LIMIT ON TEACUP RAFFLE PRIZES.’ The bill eliminates the $250 prize limit on teacup raffles, thereby allowing prizes of unlimited value. By law, qualified organizations conducting bazaars may operate teacup raffles and award prizes consisting of gift certificates or merchandise. The bill also authorizes golf ball drop raffles and allows organizations conducting them to award cash and other prizes. Existing law, with some exceptions, bars cash prizes for bazaars and raffles. The bill requires the Division of Special Revenue (DSR) executive director, with the Gaming Policy Board's advice and consent, to establish procedures for operating golf ball drop raffles. Effective: October 1, 2011
H.B.No.5184 (Public Act No. 11-34) ‘AN ACT PERMITTING COUPON BOOKS' USE AS AN INCENTIVE FOR PURCHASING RAFFLE TICKETS.’ This bill allows a qualified organization conducting a raffle under the required town permit to promote the raffle by offering coupons to ticket buyers. The bill defines “coupon” as a ticket, form, or document redeemable for merchandise, tangible personal property, services, or transportation on a common carrier or for discounts on any of these. Effective: October 1, 2011