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Nonprofits Lobby Lawmakers, Governor For Funds

by | Mar 17, 2016 2:00pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Nonprofits, State Budget, State Capitol

Christine Stuart photo Connecticut’s nonprofit community providers packed the halls of the state Capitol on Wednesday to ask lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy not to cut funding for their services and programs.

A group of HARC self-advocates stopped Malloy on his way to the Legislative Office Building cafeteria and asked him not to cut funding for their group homes.

John Frazier said he told the governor “we hope you do the right thing and support people with intellectual disabilities.”

Frazier said the governor responded “I got it.”

“But is he really working on it?” Frazier said.

Just hours after the encounter, Malloy released a list of $65 million in spending cuts, including $17.2 million in the Department of Developmental Services. Some of that money goes to fund the day programs, employment opportunities, and residential services the group of advocates wants to save.

Maria Lopes has a job and can take the bus on her own, but she lives with her sister and she wants to live on her own. She said the state needs to maintain the funding so that she can move and live on her own.

Lopes was just one of hundreds of advocates who have traveled to the state Capitol over the past few weeks to ask lawmakers to restore funding for their services and programs.

“The governor’s announcement of rescissions will close programs for some of the neediest individuals in our state, who have nowhere to turn,” Jeffrey Walter, interim CEO of the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, said. “We urge the governor and the legislature to find alternative short term solutions to this year’s deficit, and work with us to craft long term structural changes that can keep the doors of community based nonprofits open to continue to serve half a million individuals in Connecticut.”

Republican legislative leaders released a plan earlier this week that would seek to spare the nonprofit providers from Malloy’s proposal to cut about $51 million from their budgets.

The Republican plan sweeps about $40 million from various accounts, reduces payments to charter schools, eliminates $24 million in funding municipalities were supposed to use to lower their property tax rates, and requires state employees to agree to two furlough days.

Democratic legislative leaders said they would release their own budget plan before the end of the week.

Legislative leaders from both sides of the aisle met with Malloy Wednesday and agreed to resolve this year’s more than $220 million budget deficit before April 1.

However, even if they resolve this year’s deficit, HARC’s self-advocates are still worried about what will happen their programs in the 2017 budget.

The governor’s budget, which he released in February, calls for $570 million in spending cuts, 72 percent of which would come from spending on human service programs.

The CT Community Nonprofit Alliance said the recommended cuts would reduce and or shut-down programs, leaving thousands of individuals who rely on life-sustaining services with nowhere to turn.

The General Assembly is facing a $900 million deficit in 2017, according to the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis.

The legislature’s Appropriations Committee will release what amounts to their response to Malloy’s spending plan on March 31. The Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee will be expected to balance it with a revenue proposal due by April 1.

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