Advocates rally in Hartford, urge budget action to protect nonprofits

Advocates rally in Hartford, urge budget action to protect nonprofits

Record-Journal


HARTFORD — Advocates and nonprofit human service providers rallied at the Capitol Wednesday in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to pass a budget and undo the cuts under Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s executive order.

A series of speakers, including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities and service providers, urged lawmakers to quickly adopt a budget that would restore funding to nonprofit organizations.

Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, said advocates need to push their lawmakers to go further than just vote on a budget and support one that includes tax increases.

“It’s not enough to ask your legislators to vote for a budget — you need to ask your legislators if they’re willing to vote for a budget that raises revenue,” she said. “The reality is there’s no more cuts to be made.”

Some speakers agreed with Abercrombie, who is co-chairwoman of the legislature’s Human Services Committee, saying wealthier residents in particular should be asked to pay more in taxes.

Not everyone agreed, though, including Mickey Herbst, who said he didn’t see support for tax increases.

Instead, Herbst said the state has given preferential treatment to its own facilities compared to the reimbursements provided to nonprofit providers.

Wednesday’s rally coincided with a furlough day for nonprofit service providers. The furloughs are a cost savings measure due to cuts under Malloy’s executive order.

Malloy signed his order June 30 to keep the state operating after the legislature, unable to agree on how to close a $3.5 billion deficit, failed to adopt a budget for the biennium.

Malloy revised his executive order last week with changes that included restoring $40 million to nonprofit service providers, but Gian-Carl Casa, executive director for the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, said that overall payments remain $150 million below last year’s level.

“These are the people who are most in need, and they are the people who have felt the initial and biggest brunt of the reductions as a result of the fact that there’s no budget,” Casa said.

Residents with intellectual or developmental disabilities “deserve better, their families deserve better,” said Joe Duffy, whose daughter relies on services from nonprofit providers. “We shouldn’t be living from crisis to crisis, minute to minute — we’re full citizens.”

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, one of more than a dozen lawmakers to attend the rally, said lawmakers from both sides will make funding for nonprofits a priority.

He also said the frequent advocacy by service providers and family members of those with disabilities have made the issue one that has broad bipartisan support.

“When we talk about governmental core services, intellectual disabilities must rise to the top,” he said. “That is a commitment the state must make. It is a commitment we must do.”

msavino@record-journal.com 203-317-2266 Twitter: @reporter_savino


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