More Pain As State Budget Impasse Enters Its Second Month
By Daniela Altimari and Matt Ormseth | August 1, 2017
HARTFORD — With a political standoff over the state budget entering its second month, social service providers and the people they serve are bracing for a fresh round of funding reductions.
At a state Capitol press conference Tuesday, Jesus Martin, the father of a 25-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, joined about four dozen people speaking out about the impact of the pending budget cuts.
Martin’s daughter, Isabbel, participates in a state-funded vocational program that has already experienced one furlough day and faces additional closures if the budget standoff is not resolved soon.
“Right now we can take care of her, but we need her to learn skills so that when we are not here, she can take care of herself,’’ Martin said Tuesday. “You are saving peanuts. Why don’t you turn the air conditioning off in the Capitol?”
Because the legislature failed to pass a budget before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, nonprofit social service programs such as the one that serves Martin’s daughter are facing an uncertain future. The workers who staff the programs are bracing for a second furlough day on Aug. 23.
Heather Gates, president and CEO of Community Health Resources, which runs programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, drug addiction and serious mental illness, said the cuts are already having an effect. The agency has frozen all vacant positions in its community support programs, cut supported employment programs by 15 percent and reduced services for young adults.
“This is no longer just a planning effort — these are cuts that are taking place right now,’’ Gates said.
Lawmakers in a divided legislature have been unable to pass a budget and close a deficit that’s estimated to top $5 billion over the next two years. That means Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is running the state through executive order, a limited budgetary tool that allows him to cut certain line items, such as funding for privately run group homes and municipal road repairs, but not others.