A group of advocates and lawmakers said 36 percent of Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s proposed spending cuts directly target children and would add another 5,000 workers to the state’s unemployment roll.
Rell’s office sent out a statement Tuesday morning saying the cuts were to state government bureaucracy and not cuts to direct care.
State Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, angrily dismissed the notion that any of the cuts were bureaucratic in nature. She said the more than $121 million in cuts “directly target our children.”
“Families need relief,” Walker said. “Not rhetoric.”
After-school programming was cut $6.4 million, Walker said. She said that cut will effect 7,000 children. But after-school programming was just one of the many programs cut.
If the Rell’s proposal is adopted by the legislature the Care4Kids program, which helps subsidize quality day care for low and moderate income families, won’t be fully funded.
Kathy Queen, executive director of Wallingford Community Day Care, said the cut would cause over 600 children to lose access to preschool programs, force 600 parents to quit their jobs in order to care for their children, and lead to multiple child care centers and layoffs of almost 100 teachers.
“When Sikorsky threatened to cut 400 jobs and Pratt and Whitney threatened to cut 300, Gov. Rell offered a $100 million tax break to try to help save those jobs,“ Queen said. “The question to Gov. Rell is what makes the employees of Pratt and Whitney and Sikorsky more important than the parents and teachers of low and moderate income families, whose jobs are at stake here.”
The question Rell seems to be asking is, “what alternative equivalent spending cuts are these program advocates and legislative democrats proposing?”
Walker didn’t offer any specific alternative proposals because the House Democratic caucus was to meet at 1 p.m. Monday to talk about alternatives to Rell’s $337 million in spending cuts. She said potential solutions and specific proposals are expected to be made later Monday afternoon.
“We can no longer sustain a limited vision to resolving our fiscal crisis,” Walker said. “All of our proposed cuts have far reaching impacts in a multitude of directions.”
The legislature’s Democratic majority has been asked to return to the Capitol Tuesday to make the $337 million in recommended cuts, but it’s still unclear what, if anything, they will do to address the state’s budget deficit.
Some have suggested increasing the sales tax, while others have suggested raiding the state’s public campaign finance fund, and still others have proposed delaying the planned estate tax exemption.
Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield, D-New Haven, said Rell’s proposed cuts are easy because she knows children and poor people don’t vote. He said lawmakers have to do a better job defending this population. Holder-Winfield opined increasing the sales tax or looking at eliminating sales tax exemptions may help close the budget deficit.
Connecticut Voices For Children has put out a statement suggesting lawmakers evaluate all their tax expenditures. It also suggested increasing the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent to generate an additional $600 million in new revenue for the state.