Testimony on S.B. 9: An Act Adjusting Fees for Occupational Licenses, Certifications and Registrations

Committee on General Law

February 19, 2019

Submitted by: Stephen Wanczyk-Karp, LMSW

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter representing over 2500 members, opposes SB 9, due to the fiscally negative impact it will have on social work licensing in the long-term.

Our objections to SB 9 are threefold:

  1. The reduction in the application fee is a one-time cost savings with loss revenue being made up by increasing the license renew fees. Given that most licensed social workers will practice for at least 25 – 30 years this bill would cost the licensee far more over time, starting with year two of the license, than is saved on the initial license fee.
  2. While this bill may be meant to address the high cost for a new licensee to start their career, it does nothing to address the far greater issue of the overall costs of licensing in Connecticut.
  3. The licensing fees in Connecticut are a hodge-podge of rates that seem to have no correlation to the profession’s typical income or career opportunities. Similar professions often have unsimilar fees. This bill does not address the inequities in licensing fees.

Based on 2017 data, on an annualized basis, in Connecticut the field of social work has the second highest application fee in the nation for the Clinical level license, next to Wyoming, and the fourth highest initial fee for the Master level license. As for renewing a social work license, only Alaska has a higher renew fee on an annualized basis, edging Connecticut out by $20.00.

We do hear from social workers who struggle to meet the initial costs of licensure. The examination fee combined with the license fee can run over $500, and if one purchases a study guide or attends a prep class, we are looking at upwards of $800. For a new graduate coming out of school with student loans, our state is not a very friendly place to begin one’s career. Furthermore, DPH renews licenses in the month the licensee was born, so most licensee’s initial application fee does not even cover a full year. Lastly, we will point out that Connecticut is one of only seven states that renews social work licenses annually. Four states are triennial and the remainder biannual.

Given the state budget deficit and the significant funding needs for programs that support low income and vulnerable populations, NASW/CT is not calling for a license fee reduction for the upcoming biennial budget year. We do however urge the General Law Committee to convert SB 9 into a study bill, to determine the business impact of current fees, the rate of fees in comparison to surrounding states, which licenses need to be renewed annually for consumer protection and which can be biannual, the potential state savings of processing costs by biannual license renew and how to best have conformity of fees that correspond to similar professions.

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