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Seeking to boost essential work forces, Lamont proposes cutting license fees. Reaction is mixed

Wilbur Cross High School Culinary teacher Nathaniel Bradshaw reviews the cut size of carrots as his students practice for the National ProStart Invitational -- a competition where schools from all 50 states gather to compete in culinary arts and restaurant management skills. Bradshaw started the school's competitive culinary program around ten years ago, and has funded it through catering events and selling ice cream sandwiches during school.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Wilbur Cross High School Culinary teacher Nathaniel Bradshaw reviews the cut size of carrots as his students practice for the National ProStart Invitational -- a competition where schools from all 50 states gather to compete in culinary arts and restaurant management skills. Bradshaw started the school's competitive culinary program around ten years ago, and has funded it through catering events and selling ice cream sandwiches during school.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced plans Wednesday to eliminate application fees required for residents to obtain certain job licenses. The Democrat says the move is geared toward easing barriers for people entering professions in health care, education, and child care.

This is Lamont’s first legislative proposal of the year, and part of the fiscal year 2025 budget adjustment proposal. The application fee for a registered nurse is $200, for a practical nurse the fee costs $150, an educator certificate is $200, and a home child care license is $40.

The goal is to remove some of the financial barriers for these essential workforces still recovering from the pandemic, Lamont said.

“For folks to be able to get their degree faster without the application fee; help support some of the testing costs you've got so we end up with more daycare providers, more teachers and particularly more nurses,” Lamont said.

Altogether, the governor’s office said the application fees usually generate about $3.5 million annually for the state. His administration said the proposal is a small step in an effort to help people get into these professions.

But a union representing workers at state universities responded to the proposal by saying eliminating the application fees doesn’t address a deeper crisis on hand: public colleges and universities are facing big budget cuts.

“Saving a few hundred dollars on application fees is helpful, but it means nothing to the students who have had to drop out due to the recent tuition hike or the students who need courses that are no longer being offered,” Louise Williams, president of CSU-AAUP, AFT Local 6745 said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) said the proposal was a “step in the right direction” to address the state’s teacher shortage and save aspiring teachers money.

“Every Connecticut public school teacher is also expected to complete a master’s degree, only to earn significantly less than other professionals with similar levels of education and responsibility,” Lesia Day, CEA president said in a statement.

Lamont said he will unveil more of his legislative and budget plans for Connecticut with his State of the State Address, when the General Assembly begins its regular session on Wednesday, Feb. 7.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla Savitt focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. Michayla has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that she was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.