Gov. Dannel Malloy reduced the Connecticut State budget by $102,750,661 in rescissions last week.
This cut to the previously approved state budget came in a time of emergency according to Malloy’s administration. The move is a reaction to a few factors, including an unpredictable stock market.
“What concerns me the most is the international situation and the volatility in the stock market,” Malloy said. “That's what keeps me up at night.”
Additionally, the personal income tax, which supplies the state with more revenue than any other source, may not hit its original projections, since it is tied to capital gains, which are coming in below expectations three months into the fiscal year, and account for nearly 40 percent of income tax returns. They are also tied to the stock market, which is unstable.
Malloy’s office saw the rescissions as the proper response to overly optimistic projections, including, the day before, the announcement of an $800 million surplus for the fiscal year from the state comptroller.
State lawmakers and advocacy groups are starkly split on Malloy’s measures. Most of the rescissions came at the expense of social services, health services and education.
The decision to reduce Medicaid payments by $64 million is especially divisive, as it will also have repercussions in federal funding, forcing Connecticut’s medical system to miss out on an estimated total of $190 million in funds both statewide and nationally. In the previous legislative session, the state legislature fought to reverse medical cuts that were made in a similar fashion.
"We are outraged that the governor would slash Medicaid funding that is desperately needed to care for the most vulnerable people in our state," Jennifer Jackson, the Connecticut Hospital Association's chief executive officer, wrote in a statement. "With nearly one in five Connecticut residents on Medicaid, withdrawing even more funding from the state’s obligation is outrageous.”
Another medical rescission made by Malloy included $4.7 million in mental health/substance abuse treatment grants, which was just recently cut by $8.5 million.
Malloy’s rescissions reduced the Department of Mental Health’s allocated money by $8,425,486 and the Department of Public Health’s funds by $507,641.
Len Fasano, R-North Haven, the state Senate Minority Leader, came out against the rescissions, both in idea and execution.
"What does Gov. Malloy expect to do every month – make painful cuts to social services, to children’s programs and to hospitals?” Fasano asked. “He calls that a strategy?"
The medical community in Connecticut was supportive of Malloy for reelection, and Malloy’s mother was a nurse who helped organize her colleagues into union action.
This is not the first time Malloy has instituted rescissions in the budget. It is the earliest in any fiscal year in the entirety of his governorship that he has chosen to do so, though.
$3,496,245 was cut from higher education in Connecticut, including a $1,637,281 deduction to Connecticut State College and University (CSCU), $1,631,910 to Regional Community – Technical Colleges, and $27,333 to Charter Oak State College.
Miles Halpine, a 7th-semester political science major at UConn and president of The Statewide College Democrats of Connecticut, defended Malloy’s handling of education in Connecticut.
“Governor Malloy still maintains one of the strongest records nationwide as being a champion of higher education, including his historic work on Next Generation Connecticut and the first ever Student Loan Bill of Rights,” Halpine wrote in an email.
The Commission on Human Rights and opportunities lost $18,462. A $763,985 cut was made to the Department of Correction, including $600,000 to inmate medical services.
The Department of Developmental Services faced $7,567,127 worth of cuts, $3 million of which were employment opportunities and day services.
$696,783 dollars were slashed from the Department of Economic and Community Development, which means programs such as the Hartford Urban Arts Grant, the New Britain Arts Alliance, the Neighborhood Music School, the National Theatre for the Deaf, the Connecticut Science Center, the Women’s Business Center, the Mystic Aquarium, the Mark Twain House and Museum and many others had a portion of their funding taken from them.
The Department of Housing is now dealing with a $3,464,053 cut, and all except $9,000 of this was focused on housing/homeless services. Jobs First Employment Services lost $901,831 in funds.
Most of the areas which faced reductions in the state budget are traditionally protected by Democrats. Speaker of the House J. Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, made his disagreement with Malloy’s rescissions known.
“I’m disappointed and certainly opposed to what appear to be cuts targeting some of the very areas we sought to protect in the budget," Sharkey said.
There are some who agree with Malloy’s executive decisions though. Rep. Melissa Ziobron, an elected Republican official of East Haddam, Connecticut, said in a Facebook post: “I am glad the Gov. is taking this action (cutting the budget) now, as it is the prudent thing to do.”
Halpine also said he supports Malloy’s actions.
“Governor Malloy continues to make the tough choices necessary to ensure our state has a fiscally responsible, balanced budget,” Halpine wrote in an email. “While the Republicans continue to complain, they have not yet offered a single feasible alternative.”
Sten Spinella is a senior staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.