Latino Day To Focus On State Budget Inequities


CandelariaState Representative Juan Candelaria

Bill Sarno/

The fourth Latino Day, scheduled to take place at the Capitol building in Hartford on Thursday, March 16, will differ from its predecessors by fostering a discussion that goes beyond how proposed cuts in state spending will affect the state’s Latino population to include advocating fiscal policies equitable to all communities of color.
The addition of a series of forums under the heading Diversity in Public Policy: Policy Day for Communities of Color was designed to provide an innovative and fresh look at the impact of the state budget through “multiple voices and lenses of color,” said Ingrid Alvarez, Connecticut director for the Hispanic Federation, an umbrella agency for several of the state’s Latino-oriented support organizations.
According to Werner Oyanadel, senior commission analyst for the Connecticut General Assembly’s Commission on Equity and Opportunity, the panels and topics to be discussed include budget stability and equity; quality and equitable education for all of Connecticut’s children; and achieving health equity.
The Hispanic Federation and the Commission on Equity and Opportunity are co-conveners of the extended Latino Day gathering along with the legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus.
In the past the Latino and Puerto Rican Advisory Commission had worked with the Hispanic Federation to organize the annual advocacy presentations,, but that panel fell victim to last year’s budget struggle, and , along with the commissions focusing on the state’s African American and Asian populations, was folded into the new Commission on Equity and Opportunity.
As usual, there will be a legislative breakfast at 10 a.m. in the Old Judiciary Room, which will lead into a panel discussion at which Latino legislators and organization leaders will address how Governor Malloy’s proposed budget cuts will impact programs directly serving Latinos.
State Representative Juan Candelaria (D-New Haven), the first Latino deputy House speaker, will preside over what has been described as a “Celebration of Hispanic Heritage, Food and Panel Discussions.
The panelists will hold a public discourse about a number of budgetary issues impacting the Latino community, according to Candelaria. Latinos now account for 15 percent of the state’s population, but funding for non-profits serving their community has not kept pace, the legislative leader said.
Participants in the 11 a.m. forum will include members of the state Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, now headed by state Rep. Christopher Rosario (D-Bridgeport), other legislative leaders and representatives from the executive branch, according to Candelaria’s announcement.
Both Republican and Democratic legislators have agreed to serve on the panel, Alvarez said. “We want this to be as nonpartisan and diverse as possible,” the Federation director said, adding, “Every voice counts.”
Alvarez said that the morning session will draw attention to the state of Latinos in Connecticut. In addition, some of the presentations are intended to provide those people who are working on the state budget with some data about its implication for Latinos in Connecticut. “We hope to foster a dialogue between the community and elected officials,” she said.
Then, after a lunch break, the panel discussions revolving around equity for communities of color will take center stage.
Hundreds of distinguished leaders, policy-makers, community advocates, and constituents from across Connecticut have been assembled, Oyanadel said, “to discuss and advance successful initiatives that support and promote government policy, program initiatives, and contribute to our mission of building strong families and strong communities.”
This dialogue will be the focus of the following sessions:
From Budget Stability to Equity – How Do We Get There: 1:10 – 2:10 p.m.
The Formula for Education Equity: 2:15 – 3:15 p.m.
Achieving Health Equity: 3:30 pm – 4:30 p.m.
All sessions are open to the public.