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OP-ED | Governor’s Budget Ignores Evidence, Hits Vulnerable

by | Feb 19, 2015 10:10pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Health Care, Opinion, State Budget, State Capitol

Last week, after two years of hearing testimony, the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission issued its draft report.

One hundred and thirty pages of the 198-page report relate to mental health issues, and the importance of building “systems of care that actively foster healthy individuals, families and communities,” particularly in light of research showing that “approximately half of young people qualify for some behavioral health diagnosis by the time they reach 18.”

Yet less than a week later, when Gov. Malloy revealed his biennial budget for 2016-2017, it was as if the Commission had produced an expensive paperweight, for all the attention it received from the administration.

According to an analysis by CT Voices for Children,  the “Children’s Budget” – state government spending that directly benefits young people – makes up only a third of the overall state budget, yet over half (54 percent) of the governor’s proposed cuts come from programs affecting children and families.

That’s before we even get to health care and education.

The Sandy Hook report specifically mentioned the importance making it easier for families to obtain mental health services for young people. Yet the budget reduces funding for the Young Adult Services program by $2.7 million (3.3 percent) and reduces funding for school based health centers by $1 million (8.5 percent).

In the Department of Education, the governor plans to eliminate funding for “lower priority or non-statewide programs” by $ 6.2 million. Here we’re talking about programs such as Leadership, Education, Athletics in Partnership (LEAP); Connecticut PreEngineering Program; Connecticut Writing Project; neighborhood youth centers; Parent Trust; science program for Educational Reform Districts; wrap-around services; Parent Universities; school health coordinator pilot; technical assistance - Regional Cooperation; Bridges to Success; Alternative High School and Adult Reading; and School to Work Opportunities. Not only that,he’s cutting $6.49 million annually for Extended School Building Hours and Summer School components of the Priority School District Grant (i.e. grant program for districts with greatest academic need).

Wrap-around services, longer school days, and enrichment for students, particularly in the more disadvantaged districts, were something Malloy touted when he was selling his education reform package back in 2012. “It’s not as if we don’t know what works,” Malloy said in an article in the New Britain Herald: “wrap-around services, longer school days and longer school years, Saturday enrichment options.”

On top of what Malloy said, there’s over 100 years worth of research on summer learning loss. It disproportionately affects lower-income students whose parents can’t afford to send them to pricey summer camps or other enrichment activities. What’s more, the effects are cumulative, contributing to the achievement gap.

But now that he’s been re-elected for a second term, the governor has changed his tune. While claiming in his budget address that “we’re finally making real progress on closing our achievement gap,” Malloy is simultaneously slashing the very programs that are helping to make that happen in the places that need them the most.

One also has to wonder what message the administration is sending by flat-funding the Educational Cost Sharing grant, particularly in light of the outstanding CCJEF lawsuit. The attorney general’s office declined to comment when asked if this might have an impact on the lawsuit.

It’s particularly interesting given that, despite all these draconian cuts elsewhere, there’s plenty of money to fund the two charter schools that Malloy’s appointed State Board of Education approved last April after both the elected boards of education in Stamford and Bridgeport had voted against them. We know what works – and what doesn’t – two years worth of charter scandals later. The governor is cutting what works and funding what doesn’t.

I guess it’s all about the campaign donations. As Capitol Watch reporter Daniela Altimari observed, in his budget speech the governor “mentioned the middle class five times. Number of times he mentioned the poor: zero.”

“We know what works” - but those programs are being cut. Governor Malloy is doing what works for him and his political cronies and donors, instead of what is right for the most vulnerable people in Connecticut.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. A former securities analyst, she’s now an adjunct in the MFA program at WCSU, and enjoys helping young people discover the power of finding their voice as an instructor at the Writopia Lab.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(11) Archived Comments

posted by: cnj-david | February 20, 2015  5:10am

Welcome to Malloy world.  The ONLY thing that the Sandy Hook Task Force Advisory Task Commission report will be used for is to justify more gun control legislation.

posted by: justsayin | February 20, 2015  9:13am

No surprise, look at what he did after Cheshire home invasion, repealed the death penalty. Now after Newtown cut mental health. They care zero about the citizens only their agenda.

posted by: Bluecoat | February 20, 2015  12:41pm

Longer School days?
Longer School Year?
It has been the ideology behind Obama and Duncan and our copy cat Governor, that our kids should be in school 13, 14, 15 hours per day, 7 days a week, for 52 weeks.
No summer breaks, because, the Government run schools should be considered the Community Center.
Your kids will be able to get three meals per day, baby sitting service, and health care.
this is nonsense and we can’t afford it.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | February 20, 2015  1:26pm

Bluecoat - could you be a little more hysterical with your rhetoric? Or ignore what the piece is actually saying? No one is talking about 15 hours a day, 7 days a week 52 weeks. But there is clear, consistent research about summer learning loss, and our current academic year with long summer vacations were built around an agricultural economy. I spent part of my youth in Europe and the academic year is split very differently. The summer break is much shorter - with a longer winter breaks and half terms. It makes much more sense in terms of learning retention. But why let mere facts and research get in the way of your partisan rants?

posted by: GBear423 | February 20, 2015  3:24pm


@ justsayin, I Know Right?!  my jaw hit the floor when I heard they were goin for removing the Death Penalty with the Cheshire house embers still smoking practically…. yet it passed.

Dems still run the State after 2 election cycles. The will of the people! 

Sadly it appears to be the same with the mental health and gun issues. The electorate must be okay with untreated folks runnin about with knives, blunt instruments, explosives, and 10 round magazine fed firearms. I certainly feel safer.  Please fund mental health services!

I have to celebrate the cutting of all the Edu-Pork. I went down the list of all those programs and it seems like Urban centers, their kids, their parents, and their advocates will have to figure out how to educate themselves without my rural hick dollars. No idea why it must be the burden of rural/suburban tax payers to sustain these epicenters of failed democrat entitlement programs where their voter base is kept in the perpetual cycle of poverty.

IF these programs were offered State Wide I would still be glad they are being cut. Many are just a complete waste and/or government intrusion. I mean do we need to offer grants for schools to teach Science??  I mean really, aren’t we already paying them to teach science???

Some programs are good and certainly produce, but let it be the communities they are in that ante up.  Then they are invested in their own outcome.

posted by: Bluecoat | February 20, 2015  4:30pm

“In all seriousness, I think schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 11-12 months of the year,” Duncan said. “This is not just more of the same. There would be a whole variety of after-school programs. Obviously academics would be at the heart of that. But you top it off with dancing, art, drama, music, yearbook, robotics, activities for older siblings and parents, ESL classes.” Arne Duncan - Fed. Ed. Secretary - National Press Club Speech 2010.
Sorry Sarah,
Someone is has been talking about 12, 13, 14 hours a day since He became the Fed Ed Secretary.

posted by: GuilfordResident | February 20, 2015  5:12pm

blah blah blah. I don’t want my kids to go to school for longer days and more of them in the summer. Summer is for fun! They go to camp. I work hard/smart (although I could work harder/smarter) so they can go to camp and do fun stuff in the summer. If someone’s kids are falling behind tough nuts. If my kids are doing worse than your kids, good for you. All I see is a way for the state to dig deeper into my pocket ... and that’s creepy.

posted by: SLHamby | February 20, 2015  6:49pm


But I’m not bitter.
Okay, I’m a little bitter.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 20, 2015  7:00pm

Is it true that no one understands the game? Forever, Governors of all stripes have done the same thing. Offer a balanced budget. That’s all this is.

Now it’s up to the legislature to spread their smell on it. That means putting expenditures where they want them within the revenue projections.

Let’s not get our panties in a knot.


posted by: SocialButterfly | February 21, 2015  1:39pm

The Governor’s budget is like his Democratic administration ALL FOULED UP. Dannel Malloy should take a vacation to Hawaii with his programmer Barack Obama. He won’t be missed and will save taxpayer money by removing himself from his direct continual political blundering.

posted by: SocialButterfly | February 23, 2015  12:21pm

State Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven: qestioned Gov. Malloy in Connecticut Post today: How is is you have to find a billion dollars? How did we get to this point where we have to cut a billion dollars out of the budget? Where did we go wrong from last year (Election Year) to his year?

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