By Kim Rossi
My daughter Mia has autism and is in a day program here in Connecticut. She goes five days per week with transportation. While she is at her program I work and earn a living running Age of Autism, writing and consulting. I take care of Mia's sisters, who also have autism.
Today, a letter came home from the non-profit that runs her program (and dozens of other programs) that they are implementing furlough days for employees. And families will have to pay out of pocket for the program and transportation - to the tune of more than $225 for the day. There are six furlough days scheduled because Connecticut's budget is a train wreck and our DEMOCRAT Governor thinks cutting the bone first is a fine idea. We have so much WEALTH in this state! And yet somehow services for the most vulnerable population is on the cutting block.
I am my lodging protest right here, Governor Malloy. Mia and her peers have a right to safe, healthy day. Imagine if your local hospital or Alzheimer's unit said, "We'll be closed tomorrow. Good luck!" Is care for those truly unable to care for themselves a privilege? Privilege is the hedge fund life further down the Merritt in Greenwich and Stamford. Asking parents who've spent at LEAST 22 years taking care of their loved ones 24/7/365 to pony up hundreds of dollars because the STATE, one of the wealthiest states in the nation by the way, can't balance a budget is bulllroar. We lost GE headquarters a few years ago. We are one of the LEAST business friendly states in America in terms of taxes and cost of living. So what are we? We're not Republican. We're not Democrat. We're Draconiats? Nonsense.
How about I bring Mia and her peers to the statehouse and YOU help them manage their day. Feed them. Change those who need diapers. Work on their behaviors. Push their wheelchairs. Translate their non-verbal communication. Sound good, Governor Malloy and the Democrats. Oh, can I suggest you change out of your fine suit for this day? It's going to be messy.
Here's an article describing the situation further.
MERIDEN – Days from now when Connecticut begins operating without a budget, services around the state will be cut.
Governor Malloy’s Resource Allocation Plan balances $2.1 billion through cuts alone because he does not have the power to add revenue in his executive authority. This will be the state's reality until a budget is passed. Democrats in the House of Representatives say they plan to vote on a budget on July 18.
In the meantime, agencies like MidState Arc, formerly Arc of Meriden-Wallingford, are bracing for the effects of these emergency cuts. The Arc helps more than 300 people a day throughout central Connecticut. It provides services to help people with disabilities find work and learn life skills so they can gain their own independence.
Many of MidState Arc’s programs are funded under the Department of Developmental Services, which is cut by more than $4 million in the current ‘no budget’ plan. CEO Pamela Fields said it will cost them about $50,000 a month and they would have to eliminate seven positions.
“I’m not feeling comfortable that it is temporary or if it is temporary, how temporary is it? The longer those cuts are in place the more impactful it will be on the agency and the less sustainable it will be for us to move forward,” said Fields.
She said, “There’s plenty of ways to reallocate money and do the systems differently, so that everyone can get the services they need.”
Fields said the work they do ultimately saves the state money because it helps individuals with disabilities move from costly group homes to their own apartments. Edward Charlton has his own place, but he wouldn’t be able to live there without assistance from the Arc.
Charlton said, “The staff helped me to see my son, go grocery shopping, pay my bills and laundry and help me to cook.”
Individuals with disabilities and their families say they are fighting to be heard by lawmakers making these decisions.
“Taking people’s independence away is a way that you are taking people’s rights away,” said Shawn Gauthier, who receives services at the Arc. Read more here.
Kim Rossi is Managing Editor of Age of Autism.