CTMirror: Without a CT budget by July 1, the options are all bad

Without a CT budget by July 1, the options are all bad

By Keith M. Phaneuf | June 15, 2017

For more than 100 years, Connecticut has periodically grappled with what to do when the fiscal year begins and a new budget is not in place to greet it.

But with just 15 days left in the outgoing fiscal year — and a $2.3 billion deficit looming after that — gridlocked legislators’ inability to adopt a new budget has huge repercussions across a wide spectrum.

Big question marks already hang over some social services for children, the poor and disabled, as well as certain aid to cities and towns.

And Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has warned legislators for several weeks now not to force him to run the state without a new budget in place, already has said he considers that option a “worst-case scenario,” and that legislators should as well.

“In order to pay for our rising fixed costs with our anticipated revenue next year, we will have to sharply reduce spending in many areas, including spending that we all agree is important and worthwhile,” Chris McClure, spokesman for the governor’s budget office, said this week. “ … We are eager to work with the legislature to develop and pass such a budget right away.”

Community-based nonprofits already wary

Some social service programs outside of the umbrella of Medicaid operate under that type of restriction.

The state spends more than $1 billion annually contracting with community-based private, nonprofit agencies to provide the bulk of its social services. And Connecticut builds legal flexibility into its contracts with some of these nonprofits, enabling the state to terminate those agreements easily and with little notice.

Connecticut entered the new fiscal year without a budget in 2003 and in 2009, and in both cases resources for some private, nonprofits were delayed.

The state’s largest nonprofit coalition, the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, warned this week that a similar situation certainly would harm some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Gian-Carl Casa, president and CEO of the alliance, said his office has heard from a wide range of nonprofits providing behavioral health programs, various children’s services and programs for the intellectually and developmentally disabled.

“We’ve been asking our members what would happen if payments are delayed or reduced,” he said. “If funding is cut, 63 percent of the respondents say they would eliminate programs and almost 75 percent would reduce services or programs.”

Casa added that “four out of five say they’d have to lay off staff, and even a two-week delay in state funding would produce service cutbacks among some providers. “One thing is clear, if funding is reduced and payments are delayed, more of our most vulnerable fellow citizens will be without help.”

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