CT has opportunity to change the way it does business with nonprofits and save money.
(Hartford, CT) – CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, representing organizations across the state, today called on Governor Lamont and the General Assembly to protect and fully fund essential community services, and to consider ending the state’s dual service system and to invest cost savings in the nonprofit system to make more services available to more people across the state.
Alliance members, who provide supports for people with developmental disabilities, treat people with mental health and substance abuse needs, help former prisoners re-enter the community, feed the hungry, house the homeless, enrich communities through arts and culture programs and more, said nonprofit funding has been cut repeatedly in recent years, even as demand has increased. But with a new Governor and legislature, there is opportunity for change.
“Community nonprofits have participated in budget and policy discussions, but this year, we were brought to the table as members of the Governor’s transition advisory committee,” Andrea Barton Reeves, President & CEO of HARC, and a co-chair of the Human Services advisory committee said. “We had the opportunity to make policy and budget recommendations directly to the new governor and his staff, and we’re both grateful and hopeful that the Administration will implement recommendations that create a more holistic approach to delivering services to Connecticut’s citizens.”
Luis Perez, President & CEO, Mental Health Connecticut, who co-chaired the committee with Barton Reeves, said proper funding is vital. “In the face of a 130 percent increase in opioid deaths, for instance, substance abuse grants have been cut by 29 percent. Providing people with the services they need saves money by reducing reliance on more expensive emergency care.”
Barry Simon, President & CEO of Oak Hill has both closed group homes and Day programs because of inadequate funding rates and taken over state programs, said “the Lamont administration can bring a fresh approach and draw on the creativity and expertise from outside of government. The way we’ve done business doesn’t work any longer. Connecticut operates a dual system of providing services, often with state workers and nonprofit workers doing the same jobs. Quality at the state level is no better or worse; it simply costs more. It’s time for change. We need to develop a business plan to convert outdated services and redeploy State employees into more relevant and modern continuum of care options.”
Another key issue for nonprofits is to gain passage of legislation that will maintain their longstanding tax-exempt status. “Nonprofits are the bedrock of the quality of life for our state. The state must protect our tax-exempt status to ensure our capacity to do so is not undermined,” Peter DeBiasi, President and CEO of Access Community Action Agency, said. “Over the past several years, municipal tax assessors have issued more property tax bills than ever before to local nonprofits that have a history of exempt status and have not undergone a change of use.”
The Alliance is the largest advocacy organization representing nonprofits, with a membership of more than 300 community organizations and associations across the state. Community nonprofits deliver essential services to more than half a million people each year and employ almost 14 percent of the state’s workforce.