Press Conference In Support Of Commissions For Disenfranchised Groups


May 11, 2016

Hartford, CT — Varied organizations and individuals are coming together today to speak to the importance of six commissions representing the specific needs of disenfranchised groups: the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Children, the Commission on Aging, the African-American Affairs Commission, the Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, and the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission. Current budget proposals being considered by the House and Senate would see these commissions rolled into larger entities, with those concerned with women, children, and the elderly becoming the "Commission on Women, Children, and Family.” This move is regressive, in suggesting that women’s issues are more deeply intertwined with those of children than they are other adult populations. The same argument can be made in relation to the other groups represented by these commissions.

The following groups and individuals are against the merging of these six commissions into two smaller units. While some budget cuts may be necessary, we think that these commissions should be allowed to continue to work independently so as to best represent the interests of their constituents:

  • NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut
  • Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
  • Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV)
  • Lindsay Farrell, Working Families Party
  • Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
  • All Our Kin
  • Connecticut chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
  • ACLU of Connecticut
  • The Community Fund for Women & Girls of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
  • Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (formerly CONNSACS)
  • Donna Haghighat, AAUW CT Co-President
  • Eva Bermudez Zimmerman, candidate for State Representative, Newtown
  • Teresa Younger, CEO and President, Ms. Foundation for Women
  • Denise Rhone, Young Women Rising
  • Mary Lee Kiernan, Chair, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women

The following are statements from specific groups and organizations:

NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut: "This budget proposes cuts by regressively targeting the most disenfranchised groups. These organizations speak for marginalized groups, and by rolling these together the state would dilute the voices of those who already struggle to be heard. We urge the legislature and the governor to reject these ill-advised consolidations and to allow these commissions to exist autonomously in order to best serve the people of Connecticut.”

Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund: ""The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) stands in strong support of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), a valued ally in our mission to empower women, girls and their families to achieve equal opportunities. Consolidation of the PCSW eliminates its ability to work towards gender equity in our state. While we recognize the state's grim fiscal climate, CWEALF urges the Governor and lawmakers to consider the long-term impacts of their decisions on the state's most marginalized populations. If our elected officials are truly committed to representing the needs of women, children, the aging community, African-Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Latinos and Puerto Ricans in our state, they must maintain each commission to ensure these voices are heard.” – Kate C.Farrar, Acting Executive Director

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England: "Planned Parenthood of Southern New England urges Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to preserve the state commissions threatened in the current budget negotiations. These commissions were created decades ago, precisely to guarantee that the voices of disenfranchised individuals and communities were not only heard at the State Capitol, but were also recognized as critical to preserving the equitable, tolerant society we value in Connecticut. . . Consolidating these commissions is a step in the wrong direction for our state. The savings seen as a result of merging the commissions would be minimal, while the lost voices of these increasingly important constituencies would be immeasurable. PPSNE joins others in the support of these commissions and the vital role they play in advocating for equity and equality for all people in our state.” Judy Tabar, President & CEO

All Our Kin: "The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women works to ensure that women have equal opportunity to succeed in education, earn living wages, access health care, and shape Connecticut's future. Its efforts to provide analysis, conduct research, and share information about the issues that most deeply impact women in our state are foundational to the continued progress of our state, and All Our Kin strongly supports its inclusion in the state budget."

ACLU of Connecticut: ""Women, minorities, youth, and aging populations each need and deserve a voice at the capitol. Eliminating or consolidating the commissions that represent these communities would further marginalize already under-represented groups and stymy efforts to create a more equal, strong, and inclusive Connecticut. The ACLU of Connecticut stands with the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, African American Affairs Commission, Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, and other commissions working toward a fairer and freer state.”

Connecticut Chapter of the National Organization for Women: "The proposed elimination of PCSW as a dedicated, stand-alone agency sends the clear and disturbing message that Connecticut women and their issues are no longer important or valued here. In the past three years alone, PCSW can be credited with helping increase Connecticut's minimum wage; advance the number of women in Connecticut's workforce; expand affordable, quality daycare options for working families; and ensure that both Connecticut women and men are better protected against threats of sexual assault and human trafficking. PCSW's impact has been huge, but there is still so much work to do. And PCSW needs to be here to do it. Connecticut markets itself to tourists as being 'revolutionary.' But I'd say that right now, our leaders are showing we're anything but." Cindy Wolfe Boynton, president, NOW, CT Chapter

Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence: "The needs and interests of women and children are not interchangeable. Neither are the needs and interests of people who are part of the Aging, African-American, Asian Pacific American, or Latino and Puerto Rican communities. Though budget cuts may be necessary, the PCSW is a longstanding policy partner in our work to end sexual violence, and an important voice for women in our state. They deserve to be kept whole.”

Donna Haghighat, AAUW CT Co-President: "As a nearly lifelong resident of CT who cares passionately about advancing all women and girls and is a volunteer co-president for AAUW CT, I urge the CT General Assembly to revisit the proposal to eliminate PCSW as a stand-alone entity.. . I realize that the current budget crisis calls for some drastic measures. Consolidating all of the standing commissions into two commissions is not the correct approach. I know the work of the PCSW intimately and know they are a critical voice for women and girls.. . . As someone who has worked in several non-profit organizations I can also attest to the trusted partnership which many nonprofits share with PCSW in their work- particularly the work towards the passage of Paid Family Leave in CT. Nonprofits serving women and girls rarely have the bandwidth to do the dedicated advocacy that PCSW does- this is why partnering with PCSW is so critical.”

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About NARAL Pro-Choice Connecticut, Inc. 
The legislative arm of NARAL works to pass pro-choice legislation and defend against anti-choice legislation at the state capitol, believing strongly that all women have the right to access the full range of reproductive choices including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.