Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, who is exploring a run for governor in 2010, took aim at Gov. M. Jodi Rell Monday for not having a long-term plan to adequately fund the state’s nonprofit community provider network, which serves 500,000 clients living with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and substance abuse issues.
Many of those providers, like Barry Simon of Gilead Community Services Inc., are struggling to extend their lines of credit with their banks and can’t help but wonder what services they will need to cut or which employees they will need to lay off if state funding doesn’t arrive.
“The bottom line is that increasing demands for these services combined with constant cuts in funding is making it nearly impossible for Connecticut’s non-profits to continue operating, and our state has no long term plan to address this critical problem,” Malloy said in this policy statement on his campaign Web site.
If he was in charge, Malloy said Monday, he would reform the procedures the state uses to reimburse and fund community providers. He said there’s no excuse for the state to delay these payments.
In addition, Malloy said he would never have vetoed legislation in 2008 creating a cabinet to discuss community provider sustainability and funding. He said there should also be one individual whose responsibility will be to serve as a representative and voice for nonprofits in the executive branch.
“It’s the only way to make sure that the voices of the individuals who care for the most needy among us are actually heard in the halls of government,” Malloy said Monday.
Terry Edelstein, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Providers Association, said Monday after Malloy’s press conference that the community providers are concerned about a possible third executive budget order from Rell. While many organizations were spared cuts, those that deliver services on behalf of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services were cut 20 percent in August.
“There are already discussions about who is no longer served, and who is laid off,” Edelstein said.
Those that provide residential services, like Simon’s organization, have a difficult time figuring out what will be cut.
“It’s not like we can kick 20 percent of our clients out of their homes,” Simon said.
Since most of the organizations funds come from the state, Simon said the bank has refused to extend its line of credit any further based on the uncertainty of the state budget situation.
Last week, Rell said she is preparing an executive order to keep the state running if it doesn’t have a budget deal before Sept. 1. However, she said any executive order she writes must be based on the amount of available funds, which likely will be less than July and August.
Republican Party Chairman Chris Healy said the Democrats in the legislature are “playing with people’s lives here.” He said they need to stop parading vulnerable people out to press conferences and realize that the reason those people are not getting funding right now is because there’s no budget.
“The hour is late and they have the numbers,” Healy said. “If they feel so strongly about it then why don’t they just pass it. You just can’t keep asking those who pay most of the freight to continue to pay more for a government that’s overfed.”
When asked if he agreed with the legislature’s Democratic majority, which is calling for an increase in the state’s income tax on its wealthiest residents, Malloy side-stepped the question.
Revenues should be increased more than the governor has called for and they should be levied in “a fairer way” than the governor has called for, Malloy said.
“The Democrats have it closer to right than the governor does,” he added. “The best and most viable way to balance the budget is to speak the truth … I think the Democrats are speaking the truth. Do they have it all right? I don’t think so.”