Services critical to thousands of state residents may soon face the budget axe in the coming weeks as the economy staggers and the state’s deficit mounts to an estimated half-a-billion dollars.

Three out of every $10 the state spends goes directly to the Department of Social Services – $5.4 billion of the state’s $18.6 billion budget. This money goes to a wide variety of human service programs, from child care subsidies to medical assistance programs.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell cut the agency’s budget by $10.4 million in November after her budget office determined the state’s budget was unsustainable. The adopted budget – that became law without the governor’s signature – overestimated how much revenue state’s taxes and fees would generate.

This comes at a time when enrollment in food stamp, medical assistance and other programs run by DSS jumped 18 percent in one year, to almost one million people.

When the Democratic-led legislature reconvenes Feb. 3, they will have to address the deficit by either cutting funding or raising taxes and fees. Meanwhile, Rell has called on the legislature to expand the amount she is allowed to cut from department’s budgets.

 

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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