(Cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)
CTnewsjunkie has a must read article today – Respite Center Employees Get Reprieve http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/ctnj.php/archives/entry/respite_center_employees_get_reprieve/
Last month Governor Malloy’s Administration sent layoff notices to all the employees who staff Connecticut’s eight respite care centers as part of his Plan B budget.
These centers provide respite care for developmentally disabled children and adults.
They are some of the most vital and essential support services that Connecticut state government funds.
Now the Malloy Administration has announced that those layoffs have been put on indefinite hold.
Although they claim that the delay is not related to the ongoing second union vote, the delay does allow these vital services to continue – for the time being.
Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes told CTNewsjunkie that while he didn’t know the details behind the decision to delay the respite care layoffs, he did say that the Malloy Administration was delaying a number of cuts and layoffs pending the outcome of the second union vote.
Over the last couple of weeks the Malloy Administration has announced that it would delay closing DMV regional offices, would not be ending the vo-tech high school athletic programs and would also hold off laying off the staff that runs the ferry boats that cross back and forth on the Connecticut River.
The underlying problem is that the Governor and Legislature had the moral and legal obligation to pass a balanced budget.
However, instead of hold off passing a budget until AFTER the state employee agreement was reached and approved, Malloy and the Democrats adopted and signed a budget into law that contained an unachievable $2 billion dollar concession package.
When the original SEBAC/Malloy proposed agreement failed to get the required 80 percent, instead of returning to the bargaining table and developing an agreement that could pass, the Governor decided to move forward with his Plan B budget.
Weeks later it still isn’t clear whether the Malloy Administration took this action because it wanted to “scare” the state employees or whether they actually thought Plan B was an acceptable alternative.
With the Administration delaying some of the cuts and the unions voting on a revised agreement there is a growing sense of hope that a reasonable conclusion can be achieved.
But then, just when there is some light at the end of the tunnel, OPM Secretary Ben Barns tells the CTNewsjunkie “We’re not backing down. We are fully prepared in the event that it’s not ratified to go through with the entirety of our plan.”
Go through with your entire Plan B budget?
Hasn’t this process taught you anything?
Shredding the safety net and cutting services to some of the most vulnerable people in our state is not an acceptable approach to governance.
Closing the respite centers was not only an inhumane proposal, but if even 10% of the families who utilize those services throw in the towel and move their loved ones into publicly funded group homes, the cost to taxpayers will be far greater.
The fact is – NO Democrat – especially the first Democrat to hold the Governor’s Office in 20 years should ever – ever – have proposed to close the Connecticut’s respite centers. (And no Democratic legislator should have allowed such a plan to go forward).
In the end a Plan B budget may not be needed, but if it is, the Democrats have a lot of work to do to improve the plan that is now on the table – and they all know – that there is a variety of alternatives to choose from including requiring the super rich to pay their fair share, closing corporate tax loop-holes that have been left in place, reducing municipal aid to the state’s wealthiest town, utilizing the surplus that is built into this budget or actually finding cuts that are less harmful.