Sen. Miner, Rep. France: Religious Exemption Cost Projections Significantly Underestimated

April 16, 2021

State Rep. Mike France (R-42) and State Sen. Craig Miner (R-30), ranking members of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, today expressed their disappointment with the committee’s failure to address the true cost of a proposal that would result in approximately 30,000 children without up-to-date vaccinations being disenrolled from local public schools.


Members of the Appropriations Committee met to discuss the fiscal analysis of H.B. 6423 – An Act Concerning Immunizations – which will eliminate the religious exemption from mandatory vaccinations for Connecticut school children. According to the legislation, children without up-to-date vaccinations would be barred from attending school – public or private.


Rep. France and Sen. Miner, joining other Republicans on the committee, were critical of the bill’s fiscal analysis because it did not include the cost of providing those disenfranchised children with their Constitutional right to a free public education. Republicans say that could cost $350 million and offered an amendment to address the issue. After a lengthy recess, Democrats ruled the amendment out of order, contending that the budget-writing committee doesn’t have cognizance over the issue.


“It’s outrageous to suggest that the Appropriations Committee couldn’t act on an issue that carries obvious if not troubling budgetary implications,” Rep. France said. “As a co-equal branch of government, our charge is not to merely look at legislative proposals and determine if we have enough money in the budget, rather we have a much broader obligation to the people of our state to ensure the accuracy of the cost of any new policy and whether or not the most accurate fiscal information is being used for those proposals.”


Republicans also offered an amendment to have the bill’s fiscal analysis amended to reflect the true number of Connecticut students who have claimed religious exemptions from mandatory vaccination, which currently stands at more than 8,000 students and not the 1,500 specified in the analysis. Republicans also saw Democrats reject their attempt to provide a more accurate cost of providing vaccines to unvaccinated children who would find themselves disenrolled from schools as a consequence of the policy enacted in H.B. 6423.


Sen. Miner said, “The budgetary implications of this legislation we considered today were incomplete if not inaccurate. Children in Connecticut have a constitutional right to a free public education, which for some would no longer be provided upon the passage of this legislation. It’s no wonder that thousands of Connecticut families continue to express their frustration over the past couple of years—we agree and remain disappointed by the dogged pursuit of this legislation by some in the majority. Simply put, it seeks to fix a problem that just doesn’t exist.”