From the Capitol: Scrooge-Like Cuts Hurt those Most in Need

December 16, 2014

During the season of giving, the Connecticut governor’s office has been doing a whole lot of taking.

Faced with a fiscal crisis and imminent budget deficit, the administration has decided to take from those most in need to make up for our state’s financial shortfalls. The proposed cuts, known as rescissions, are being used as a quick fix to address our budget woes. But not only do these cuts fall short of making up for the deficit in its entirety, they also take away funding from some of the most important and most vulnerable social services.

The proposed rescissions cut $9.2 million from the Department of Children and Families, $5.5 million from the Department of Developmental Services and $3.2 million from the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. Cuts are also proposed for the departments of Social Services and Public Health – targeting not only adult services, but also programs for children with special medical care needs. And after all those cuts, our state still faces a deficit of anywhere from $44.8 million to over $100 million.

The situation is sad and severe. It also brings to mind a certain holiday story – and I cringe as I watch the Scrooge-like state government take from some of the most vulnerable in Connecticut.

Yes, we have a serious financial problem. But these cuts do nothing to address the behavior that got us into this mess in the first place. Hasty cuts to key social services are wrong. I respect the governor’s right to make emergency cuts, but not like this.

What we need is a comprehensive budget plan that reduces overall spending, cuts wasteful programs, trims the size of government, eliminates budget gimmicks and curbs our state’s reliance on borrowing. We need to sit down with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to hammer out a solution that slashes waste and doesn’t hurt the families most in need of support.

I am perplexed by the majority party’s hesitation in accepting the helping hand that has been offered by Republicans across the state, but I hope that we can work together to revisit the budget in its entirety.

Connecticut deserves a plan that not only closes all of today’s shortfalls, but also puts our state on a path to better fiscal management for the long run.

I know the governor does not intend to exude Scrooge through his actions, but it’s hard to ignore when he takes so blatantly from those who are most vulnerable.