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Living with the consequences of having no budget

This year Connecticut was joined by 10 other states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine, in failing to compromise on a budget in time for fiscal year 2017–2018, which started on July 1.

In the aftermath of such a failure, there remains uncertainty regarding how long the state can remain in economic limbo. Now, over one week into the month of August, the state is yet to solidify a budget, and residents of all ages and walks of life are being hit with the consequences of this legislative inefficiency. 

Torrington recently made the decision to delay opening school due to the lack of financial certainty. Teachers’ net incomes for the year will not be reduced, but their second paycheck of the school year will be postponed.

Lack of a state budget also affects personal budgets. Parents must seek additional child care, and teachers must adjust their own budgets as a result of delay of their paychecks.

United States public education is one of the most important benefits for taxpayers. State fiscal uncertainty impacts its security. 

This week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he would sign an executive action that would shift state aid from more affluent school districts to poorer districts to help offset the effects the state budget is having on town and school budgets. This may provide temporary relief. But it is merely a Band-Aid covering a deep wound. 

The proper solution to this school budgeting issue is action from our elected legislators. 

On Aug.1, Gov. Malloy reduced the Department of Human Services budget to keep the state operational during this uncertain time. The departments of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), Developmental Disabilities, Correction, Social Services, and Rehabilitation Services all experienced cuts as a result of this action. These cuts affect recovering addicts, the mentally ill, the poor, and the disabled, further marginalizing groups of people who are already facing hardship. A second cut is scheduled for the beginning of September if a budget is not adopted. But, even if the budget is adopted before the second round of cuts, there will be no retroactive funding to these agencies.

This week has seen some progress in adopting a budget. A wage and benefit concession was passed that is integral to the formation of the state budget. But when children, the disabled, the poor, and the mentally ill are put on the back burner, small victories such as the legislative concession are not enough. 

Contact your representatives and urge them to adopt a budget to restore economic certainty in our state. 

 

Cecilia Petricone is an intern at the Office of the Community Lawyer and is a sophomore at Boston College.