A state agency serving developmentally disabled people took the biggest hit in a round of budget cuts released Friday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which called for $31.5 million in rescissions to reduce a $121 million deficit.
Friday’s rescissions are the second round of cuts Malloy has ordered in two months as this year’s budget shortfall has swelled amidst declining revenues.
The deepest cut outlined by the administration Friday will come from the Department of Developmental Services. Malloy has called for a total reduction of about $8.4 million from the agency’s budget, with its Employment Opportunities & Day Services and Personal Services line items each cut by at least $3 million. It was the largest departmental cut by dollar amount in the rescissions announced today.
Meanwhile, Malloy reduced the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services budget by $1.3 million.
As was the case in the governor’s first batch of rescissions, the state’s higher education institutions are also seeing deep cuts. The University of Connecticut will have its operating budget reduced by $2.3 million and the UConn Health Center operating budget will be cut by $1.3 million. The Board of Regents, which operates the state’s university, technical college, and community college systems, will be cut by $2.6 million.
In a statement, budget secretary Benjamin Barnes said the administration also was making tough decisions on next year’s budget, which is projected to be in deficit by $1.3 billion.
“We know these rescissions affect programs that help the people of Connecticut, but we need to control spending to avoid a deficit at year-end. Unfortunately, the governor’s ability to make mid-year budget cuts is limited by amount and line item. We will continue to scrutinize state spending, and if necessary the governor will take additional steps, or propose additional steps to the legislature, to keep this year’s budget in balance,” Barnes said.
Malloy also has doubled the amount of money he has asked the other two branches of state government to cut. He’s asked the Judicial Branch to cut another $6 million from its budget and requested that the Legislative Branch trim another $865,000. The governor is seeking $65,000 from the Office of Government Accountability, a combined agency including election regulators, the Office of State Ethics, and the Freedom of Information Commission.
“Your willingness to be a partner in achieving a positive outcome for this fiscal year is greatly appreciated, and I know we share the desire for the state end the fiscal year with its budget in balance,” Malloy wrote in letters to Chief Justice Chase Rogers, legislative leaders, and heads of the state watchdog agencies.
In a statement, Sen. Rob Kane, a ranking Republican on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, said Democrats and Republicans should work together to continue to reduce state spending.
“Cutting spending is the way to fix our state’s financial crisis. We simply can’t afford more and more tax hikes in this state. We face multi-billion dollar problems in the years ahead. We need to stay focused on what taxpayers’ dollars are spent on, and go line by line in the budget to make cuts. The sooner we confront our state’s spending addiction, the better off Connecticut taxpayers will be in the long run,” Kane said.
In his statement, Barnes said the administration held off on releasing the list of cuts to reporters until Friday afternoon in order to meet with a Republican legislative leader during a public, mid-day lunch.
“We waited to release this until after meeting with the Republican leadership, in anticipation of their suggestions,” Barnes said.
No specific policy ideas were discussed during the meeting between Malloy, Barnes, and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story included a decimal place error in the amount of the rescission planned for the Office of Government Accountability. The error has been corrected.