OPINION: Budget protects towns, education, most social services

OPINION: Budget protects towns, education, most social services

Last week, the legislature approved a state budget with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, providing funding and mandate relief for many of our towns, reversing the massive cuts in education, and protecting most vital social service and job-training programs.

The budget protects funding for core social services and programs, fully funds day and employment services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and protects funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

In an effort to balance the budget, we made manageable reductions to higher education institutions, including a $33 million reduction to UConn and UConn health, while preserving scholarships for low and middle-income students so that our prestigious higher education is still accessible for all.

Funding has been restored for the CT Home Care Program; which provides funding for Seniors Meals, dial a ride, and preserves the personal needs allowance, while opening it up to new participants. Taxes for retirees are lowered by eliminating the state income tax on Social Security income.

I feel relieved for the towns and state of Connecticut that we finally have a budget, but I have to admit that I voted for it with a heavy heart.

This budget contains many positives, including municipal aid that was desperately needed and ECS funding but that does not mean it is perfect. I am concerned about our elderly population and the cuts made to their vital programs which will have long-term ramifications.

I am not done advocating for the needs of our most vulnerable. Voting yes on this budget put a stop to the devastating cuts put in place by the executive order but that does not mean our job is done. As a legislator, and as the chairwoman of the Human Services committee, I cannot sit idly by and let our aging population be among the most impacted. That is why I am committing to continuing my work on these issues with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

This budget has good, bad, and ugly parts of it, but with any compromise, we can hope that the good outweighs the bad.

I am proud of the bipartisan effort that went into overcoming the $3.5 billion budget deficit. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our state employees who took the first step with the SEBAC deal, and saved $1.5 billion with their givebacks. I hope we can continue the bipartisanship effort as we work through the minor details that still need to be addressed.

Thank you to all who have reached out to my office through this process, please continue to do so as we move forward and into the next legislative session. I can be reached via email at Catherine.Abercrombie@cga.ct.gov, by phone at 860-240-0493 or on Facebook at State Representative Cathy Abercrombie.

Democratic state Rep. Cathy Abercrombie represents Meriden.

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