AUGUST 02, 2017
HARTFORD — With a political standoff over the state budget entering its second month, social service providers and the people they serve are bracing for a fresh round of funding reductions.
At a state Capitol press conference Tuesday, Jesus Martin, the father of a 25-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, joined about four dozen people speaking out about the impact of the pending budget cuts.
Martin’s daughter, Isabbel, participates in a state-funded vocational program that has already experienced one furlough day and faces additional closures if the budget standoff is not resolved soon.
“Right now we can take care of her, but we need her to learn skills so that when we are not here, she can take care of herself,’’ Martin said Tuesday. “You are saving peanuts. Why don’t you turn the air conditioning off in the Capitol?”
Because the legislature failed to pass a budget before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1, nonprofit social service programs such as the one that serves Martin’s daughter are facing an uncertain future. The workers who staff the programs are bracing for a second furlough day on Aug. 23.
But some advocates question whether enough is being done. At a center for adults with profound mental illness run by Community Health Resources in Manchester, staffers worry that vulnerable people will be left behind.
“We have money for Dunkin’ Donuts Park but the people are suffering,’’ said Lynnette Ramos-Gonzalez, rehab coordinator at the center. “How bad will it get when these cuts go through, when people are running around, not taking their medication? People will get thrown into jail … and that creates a whole ’nother issue.”
Kathy Pappas, a senior rehab coordinator, said the state’s fiscal turmoil has created a lot of anxiety for people who rely on the center for job-training, socialization and other resources. The facility is also home to a food bank, where clients can pick up donated food. But the service is in jeopardy because the driver who collects the contributions and brings them to the center could become one of the casualties of the budget cuts.
“It’s not easy living every day with a mental illness,” added Annette Dias, another staff member at the center. “Where do they go for help? Back in the 1970s, they used to put people in institutions and in jails. It’s really expensive to do that and its just inhumane … [but] with the whole budget process … I feel that’s the direction we’re going [in.]”
CLICK HERE to watch Annette Diaz, Peer Support Coordinator at CHR’s We Can Clubhouse, discussing the impact of the budget impasse on people with severe mental illness.
By Daniela Altimari and Matt Ormseth
Please find below additional stories posted on 8/2/2017 about the impact of recent budget cuts: