New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said he didn’t come up to the state Capitol Thursday to blame anybody.
Instead he emphasized what the lack of a state budget means for the Elm City and some of its nonprofits.
“The city is getting into a cash flow issue,” DeStefano said. He said tax collections will carry the city through until the end of September, but if October comes and the state still doesn’t have budget then it will really begin creating some problems.
DeStefano said the city has access to an $80 million line of credit it can use to help pay for school construction projects and other capital improvements as it waits for the state to pass a budget and a bond package. However, that first $24 million payment will be due at the end of September and in October New Haven is scheduled to receive its first large state grant payments. He said if those grants for education and tax-exempt property are not made on time then “we will run into problems in the general fund.”
Andrew Orefice, director of programs at Strive a job placement program for ex-offenders, said a third of its budget traditionally comes from the state. But it’s been two months since the program received any state funding and private foundation funding has been drying up for more than a year, he said.
He said the number of clients have increased and the number of staff have decreased. He said the organization has 150 clients and fewer staff to help them find jobs. He said right now the organization is operating on a loan from the Greater New Haven Loan Fund.
The Diaper Bank in New Haven also gets about 34 percent of its funding from the state, Janet Alfano said.
She said the organization has already reduced the number of diapers per client from 100 to 50 per month and has stopped taking new applications. She said The Diaper Bank was established in 2004 in response to the lack of public assistance for purchasing diapers. It wasn’t until 2007 that is received $150,000 in state funding.
The state of Connecticut and the state of Pennsylvania are the only two states left without a budget.
Dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy stopped by DeStefano’s press conference Thursday and had some observations to offer later in the afternoon.
He said he thinks the budget debate has crystallized the difference between the two parties. He said if the Democratic lawmakers really believe in all the programs and services they’re holding press conferences on around the state, then they should pass a budget which funds them.
After all, on paper, Democratic lawmakers control 138 of the 187 General Assembly seats, which means they should be able to pass a budget without Republican support.
“I think they think that the governor is going to take them off the hook or somebody’s going to do it for them,” Healy said.
The main difference between Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s budget and the one proposed by the legislature’s Democratic majority is an increased income tax on the states wealthiest citizens.
DeStefano refused to jump into the fray and said his only interest was getting a state budget.
Healy said it’s the legislature’s statutory obligation to come up with a balanced state budget and they’re waiting on Rell to do it for them. “She’s at least trying,” he said.
As for DeStefano, Healy sent out a statement prior to DeStefano’s press conference Thursday saying, “We have a message for Mayor DeStefano, learn how to manage a poverty city and stop allowing illegal immigrants to collect our tax dollars.”
“Mayor DeStefano should convince his fellow Democrats to get down to business,” Healy added.
In an interview with Rell Thursday afternoon said she that Democratic lawmakers really haven’t cut anything. She said they want to solve the budget deficit by borrowing $2 billion and increases taxes and fees by another $2 billion.
“They’re saying we want to cover everything with taxes,” Rell said.
Democratic lawmakers have said the wealthy can afford to pay an additional $20 a week to help continue to fund programs and services for the less fortunate.