A legislative commission that’s been around for 36 years will struggle to make it to the end of the year, if Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s budget office doesn’t let it transfer $100,000 this Thursday.
Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, said Tuesday that the Office of Policy and Management has yet to put her commission on the agenda for a Financial Advisory Committee meeting Thursday.
“The money has already been budgeted,” Younger said. She said they just need to move it from operational expenses to personal services so they can continue to pay the few staff members they have left. In order to do that they need the approval of the Financial Advisory Committee, which is controlled by the governor’s budget office.
Last year Rell proposed eliminating all six legislative commissions, including Younger’s, but the General Assembly decided to keep them and simply cut their funding by an estimated 50 percent to help close the budget gap. The General Assembly also eliminated Rell’s appointments to the commissions.
Younger said if the commission is unable to make the $100,000 transfer it will struggle to make it through the end of the fiscal year.
Jeffrey Beckham, spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management, said no decision about whether to add the commission to the agenda has been made.
“We’re aware of the request and we’re taking a look at it,” Beckham said Tuesday night. “They have already overspent their budget by quite a lot and it looks like they don’t have enough money to make it through the end of the year.”
He said he doesn’t believe the transfer will help it.
“They’re a few pay periods away from being in the red,” Beckham said.
Younger said that’s absolutely not true. She said over the years the commission has developed private-public partnerships to help it maintain its mission and programming expenses.
“It’s not his job to micromanage our budget,” Younger said. “We have not overspent our budget.”
She said all of the commissions money, including grant funds, are managed through the Office of Legislative Management, not the Office of Policy and Management.
Rep. John Geragosian, D-New Britain, who sits on the Financial Advisory Committee and chairs the legislature‘s Appropriations Committee, said this budget was negotiated and for Rell’s administration not to agree to the transfer “undermines the intent of the budget.”
“It’s dishonorable and backhanded,” Geragosian said Tuesday. “I hope they come to their senses and make the transfer.”
He said the General Assembly budgeted a specific amount of money for these commissions and some adjustments need to be made. He said if the governor’s office refuses to allow this transfer it will “set off a nuclear war on the budget.”
“This has nothing to do with implementing the budget,” Beckham said. “This was not unforeseen.” He said the commission should have known what they were up against.
“It’s not the fault of anyone in the executive branch,” Beckham said noting that Rell never signed the budget.
“I have no idea what he’s talking about,” Younger said. “We’ve never overspent our budget and just last year we gave back $300,000.”
She said when the commission works with state agencies like the Department of Corrections to implement a stipulated agreement with female correction officers the commission never asked for more money.
“We did it. No questions asked,” Younger said.
The commission provides discrimination and harassment training to 10,000 state employees, holds public hearings, and advocates on behalf of women who make up 51 percent of the population in the state.