Dozens of families, providers and union organizers rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday, calling on lawmakers to stop cutting funds that support services for disabled people.
Facing a budget deficit in this fiscal year, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has used his rescission power to cut the Department of Developmental Services budget by about $8.4 million. Health care workers’ union SEIU 1199 New England organized Wednesday’s rally and delivered a petition to Malloy’s office hoping to stem further DDS cuts in the coming two-year budget.
Velma Williams-Estese, one of the speakers at the rally, said her adult daughter Deborah is on a waiting list for services. She called on the administration to fund better access to state services without cutting funding for similar services elsewhere in the budget.
“That is such an old trick. I have to call it as I see it,” she said. “You pit one group against another group who are all in the same group. … Here we are reaching for the same crumbs. Everybody needs everything at the same level, practically, and our state is not providing that.”
Williams-Estese said families were tired of hearing “the same old tired story” about budgetary shortfalls and suggested the state could raise revenues.
“Uh-uh. We know better. We may not have it ourselves personally, but we know that money is in this state. This is the wealthiest state in this country,” she said.
The two co-chairwomen of the legislature’s Human Services Committee spoke in support of the group during the rally. Although neither Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, nor Sen. Marilyn Moore, D-Bridgeport, endorsed raising revenue, both said the DDS budget should be spared further cuts.
“The DDS budget has been hit the hardest. Look at the revisions recently: $8 million. The time has come for us to stop these cuts,” Abercrombie said. “We know we have a difficult time ahead of us. We know the budget hasn’t been generous to us over the last six years. But we can’t [balance] it on the backs of you people.”
Malloy will outline his budget proposal next week and has ruled out raising taxes to help close a projected $1.3 billion deficit in next year’s budget. Malloy’s spokesman, Devon Puglia, said the administration looks forward to working with families and organizers.
“We appreciate the comments and thoughts they presented to our office today. We are always happy to meet with anyone who has ideas on how to make Connecticut a better place and who works to ensure that everyone has an opportunity succeed,” Puglia said in an email.