Eastern states set to enact higher minimum wages in 2023

Nine of the eleven states in the CSG Eastern Region are set to increase their state-mandated minimum wages in 2023.

The increases in all nine states follow schedules set by previously passed legislation, most of which set multi-year schedules containing pre-determined increases in the hourly wage floor.

In Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, and New York, workers will earn a full dollar more than they did in 2022.

Both Connecticut and Massachusetts will require most employers in their state to pay $15.00/hour. The Massachusetts wage went into effect January 1; Connecticut will implement its $15/hour wage starting on June 1, 2023.

In all, 23 states and Washington, D.C. raised their minimum wages on January 1, raising pay for an estimated 8.4 million workers across the country, according to the Economic Policy Institute. They estimate that “workers’ wages will increase by more than $5 billion, with average annual raises for affected full-time workers ranging from $150 in Michigan to $937 in Delaware.”

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Northeast Task Force Fall Meeting 2022

The Fall meeting of the Northeast High-Level Transportation Task Force was held October 26-27, 2022 at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, New Jersey. A Summary of the meeting and presentations provided are listed below.

Northeast Task Force 2022 Fall Meeting Summary
Update on the 3Yankee’s
A Community Preparedness and Planning Pilot Framework Tool for Spent Nuclear Fuel Transportation
Update from DOE Environmental Management
DOE-NE Program Update and Interim Storage Activities
Loading of Indian Point LLRW onto Rail in Newton, Connecticut
PA Radiation Monitoring Tech Guide Document

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Water Quality, Safety and Access in Public Schools

By Andrew Johnson

School facilities are important for student success. The quality of these facilities can impact achievement and the overall health and wellness of students. The COVID-19 pandemic energized discussions across the U.S. about schools and public health, with concerns about building conditions taking center stage.  

Community leaders, parents and school officials focused on building air quality as they planned for the return to in-person learning during the pandemic. Another health concern in schools after the temporary closures was the quality of drinking water. When schools are unoccupied for long periods of time, the stagnant water supply deteriorates in quality. Sitting water can collect higher levels of heavy metals and microorganisms, such as lead or bacteria. Water access and quality also impact student achievement. Research shows that hydration can support cognitive function in students.  

Many states are seeking solutions to improve water quality. A Harvard survey found that a majority of sampled schools do not test water supplies for lead or flush water sources after periods of nonuse. The study found that only 51% of schools tested water for bacteria. While water testing policies vary, policymakers are responding to these public health concerns by prioritizing water quality through policy directives for addressing lead and other unsanitary contaminants. Directives include establishing lead testing requirements and standards, ensuring funding for water testing and focusing resources on susceptible, older facilities. 

Lead Testing Requirements Standards 

Once states implement policies, they must determine an action level — the maximum level of lead presence allowed before intervention measures are required. The thresholds and action(s) required varies state to state. For example, Indiana’s level is 15 parts per billion (or 15 micrograms of lead per one liter of water). If schools test at or above that limit, they must seek government or other grant funding to lower levels.  

New Hampshire does not set a limit. Instead, it follows guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency which the state reports is 15 parts per billion. If a school exceeds this limit, the school is required to notify families of the test results within five days and inform them of the action plan within 30 days or “as soon as practical.” Schools are required to test water within 30 days of any changes in the EPA’s regulations.  

Utah and Vermont have lower action levels of five and four parts per billion, respectively. If a Utah school exceeds this threshold, schools must develop a plan to reduce lead levels and continually provide information to families. Vermont, on the other hand, requires families and staff be notified of testing and the action plan before testing takes place.  

Funding for Water Testing 

States have different funding options for water testing in schools.  

  • California and Colorado have grant funding opportunities for child care centers and public schools, respectively.  
  • Michigan funds reimbursements for statewide school testing and water system maintenance.  
  • New York allows certain expenses associated with maintenance to be reimbursed. Further, the state allows schools that “substantially comply” with testing and lead thresholds below the limit to receive waivers from regular testing.  
  • North Carolina utilizes funds from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (of the American Rescue Plan Act) to remediate lead and asbestos contamination in public schools and child care facilities.  
  • Rhode Island allows federal capitalizations grant funds to be used in public schools and daycare centers.  

Focused Testing in Older Facilities 

Older buildings are more susceptible to pipe deterioration that results in unsafe drinking water. As such, some states are prioritizing water testing in older school buildings. Colorado established a grant program to test for lead in school drinking water that gives the highest priority to the oldest public elementary schools, then the oldest non-elementary public schools and then all other public schools.  

Louisiana established a pilot program for general water testing in schools. The Department of Health selects 12 elementary schools built prior to 1986 or that may otherwise be susceptible to drinking water contamination. Similarly, Tennessee requires the state board of education to implement a program to reduce the potential sources of lead contamination in school drinking water. This includes periodic testing of lead levels in water sources at school facilities constructed prior to June 19, 1986. This program requires samples to be taken from water that has sat in plumbing overnight. 

Maintaining the physical space of schools is necessary for student health, safety and achievement. While the health concerns of building quality pre-date the COVID-19 school closures, the pandemic expanded health and safety concerns around conditions like air and water quality. By responding to these concerns, notably the impact of safe drinking water, states are implementing policies outlining lead testing requirements and standards, ensuring funding for water testing and focusing resources on older facilities. 

Northeastern trade directors meet to discuss regional trade development

The Eastern Trade Council held its first meetings in 1999, resulting in a joint report on regional exports that helped state leaders make the case for investment in export development.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, the board is still serving as a catalyst for northeastern state export leaders to collaborate, communicate with federal trade officials, and navigate an increasingly turbulent global marketplace.

The council, also called the ETC, is an affiliate organization of CSG East and is the only organization bringing trade directors together on a regional level.


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Increasing Early Childhood Education Training and Credentialing

Research shows that “investments in quality preschool programs bolster student success.” Preschool programs prepare students for success in elementary grades, specifically in areas such as literacy and math.

A 2020 policy brief, from the Education Commission of the States, further highlights and quantifies the impacts of quality preschool programs, including positive generational gains, enhanced social and emotional learning skills, and spillover effects to students who did not participate. A recent study also shows that additional training for educators and caregivers further strengthens the impact of those learning experiences.

State policymakers across the country are working to implement policies that expand and enhance training and credentialing opportunities for in-service and pre-service early childhood educators in a variety of ways. Below, we break down specific examples of how states are offering – and funding – these opportunities.


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The Time is Now to Address the Broadband Gap

The COVID pandemic changed the way we work, and states have been exploring ways to ensure their residents can keep up. 

This “tech new deal” affecting the U.S. includes one of the biggest investments in broadband since 2008. “We have not seen the amount of healthy investment in broadband since the American Recovery Act,” said Nicol Turner Lee, PhD, director for the Center for Technology Innovation at The Brookings Institution. “It’s important to take advantage of this time.” 

Dr. Turner Lee was a panelist for Tuesday’s luncheon session, “The Age of Transformation: Workforce Development and Education in a Post-COVID Economy.” 

The ability to work remotely grew during the early days of the pandemic, but some people fell through the cracks. Dr. Turner Lee’s forthcoming book – “Digitally Invisible: How the Internet is Creating a New Underclass” – explores the gap and how it impacts those without adequate access. 

“Let’s be smart,” she said. “It’s about closing the divide, preparing people for the next generation.” 

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