Months after welcoming thousands of families from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, Connecticut legislators are pushing for more aid to help the relocated U.S. citizens now calling the state home.
The legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus will make aiding Puerto Rican families one of its top priorities this session, caucus leaders announced Monday at the Capitol. The organization proposed restoring funding to Hispanic agencies and providing disaster assistance to those affected by the storm.
“We cannot turn our back on these fellow American citizens,” said Rep. Christopher Rosario, D-Bridgeport, chair of the caucus.
More than 1,700 students displaced from Puerto Rico enrolled in Connecticut schools after Hurricane Maria struck in September.
Connecticut welcomed the second highest number of families from the U.S. territory, only behind Florida, putting pressure on the state’s school districts to make room for new students.
Bridgeport Public Schools, where Rosario attended, took in more than 200 students from Puerto Rico in the fall, according to the district. Some 128 students displaced from the island still attend the public schools.
The minority caucus will also champion pay equity, creating liveable wages and protecting women’s health care, Rosario said.
Vice chair of the caucus Rep. Brandon McGee, D-Hartford, said the caucus is concerned about the “erosion” of the state’s Medicaid system, which provides health insurance to low-income residents, due to eligibility changes.
The 29-member group is pushing several education initiatives, including recruiting and retaining more teachers of color and changing staffing requirements for child care providers.
Advocating for a “second chance society,” McGee said the caucus also produced bills that would require the state Department of Corrections to offer opioid treatment to inmates, create a working group to study housing options for former inmates and give tax credits to businesses that employ them.
Criminal justice reform and economic measures, like paid family leave, disproportionately affect black and Latino families, McGee said.
Rosario said caucus members would….
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