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Advocates: Latest human services budget cuts are callous

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HARTFORD — Governor Dannel P. Malloy is getting a lot of push back over new cuts to the state budget.

On Wednesday, human service providers and families called the cuts callous during a press conference.

“This is Jessie,” Dr. Michelle Rivelli said as she showed a picture. “This is my daughter.”

Rivelli said it’s not easy for her to stand in front of people and talk about a person so close to her heart, but she felt compelled to let people know the Governor’s budget cuts are about people.

Jessie has autism and an intellectual disability. She turns 21 on Friday.

“Instead of preparing for her birthday which I would much rather be doing, I spend my time attending meetings, making phone calls, and fighting with the Governor and DDS,” said Rivelli.

Rivelli is, once again, fighting against budget cuts ordered by the Governor.

It’s a back and forth that’s becoming routine.

In February, the Governor ordered rescissions for the state’s upcoming two-year budget.

The legislature restored some of those in June when the budget was passed.

Then last week, the Governor said he needed to trim more than $100 million out of the $40 billion two-year budget because of Wall Street volatility.

Human service providers said a $16 million cut would impact some of the state’s most vulnerable.

Human service providers say the cuts will cause:

  • service delays
  • staff reductions
  • fewer services to individuals and families

“I voted for the Governor,” said Rivelli. “I’ve lost a lot of respect for him, I would say, is where I am right now.”

State Representative Cathy Abercrombie (D Berlin & Meriden) says the Governor has a difficult job, but cuts to human services are hard to swallow.

“I’m probably going to be in the hot seat, going against my leadership but you know what, I wasn’t elected to just sit here and say, ‘this is ok,’” said Abercrombie.

Abercrombie, a Democrat, even called for a special session, something Republicans have called for.

Abercrombie said, as a member of the Appropriations Committee, they all know where better cuts can be made.

“I think one of the areas we have to look at is transportation,” said Abercrombie. “We put a lot of money in there and there is no plan in place.”

The Governor’s office responded with a statement:

“Our hearts of course go out to the affected families. However, while we understand there is continued demand for service, it`s important to note that we spend about $1.1 billion per year on these important issues. We have to make difficult decisions and do the fiscally responsible thing while planning for our long-term economic future.”