Budget cheat sheet: The CT legislature’s proposal
Spoiler alert: The budget proposal released Thursday by Democrats in the General Assembly is not going to become law as written. Neither is the budget proposal Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed last month.
But Thursday’s proposal by the legislature’s Appropriations Committee helps to set the stage for negotiations with the Malloy administration toward a final budget, and it points to the legislators’ priorities.
Here’s a look at some of the places the committee opted to add funds and where it decided to cut.
Who’d get more money under the new proposal:
People with developmental disabilities: Families of people with developmental disabilities say budget cuts in recent years have left hundreds of people unable to get services they need, particularly help with housing. There are 635 people on a waiting list for residential services, including 110 considered “priority one,” whose parents or caregivers are 70 or older. The committee’s proposal would add $4.4 million to the Department of Developmental Services’ budget to provide residential services to 100 people whose caregivers are 70 or older.
Schools: The proposal would give municipalities another $7.5 million to help cover education-related expenses, on top of the $41 million increase Malloy proposed. The bulk of the added dollars would go to Bridgeport, East Hartford, Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, Norwich, Waterbury and Windham.
Local taxpayers: The proposal would add $13 million to the funds that are currently available to reimburse communities that house tax-exempt colleges, hospitals and state property. Malloy proposed adding $8 million to the funding.
Sexual violence prevention: The proposal includes $175,000 for direct services for rape and other sexual assault victims and prevention activities, and $25,000 for prevention efforts at state colleges and universities.
Mental health and substance abuse providers: Malloy’s budget proposal maintained a $25.5 million cut in grants for mental health and substance abuse treatment providers that was adopted last year as part of the two-year budget. The committee added back $10 million in grant funds and proposed increasing the rates Medicaid pays to outpatient treatment providers, a $5.5 million expense.
Who doesn’t get new money, or faces cuts:
Hospitals: Hospitals have faced hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding cuts in recent years, and the Appropriations Committee didn’t opt to restore any of it. Sen. Beth Bye, the committee’s co-chairwoman, said hospitals would benefit, though, because the proposal would increase Medicaid rates paid to outpatient mental health and substance abuse clinics. Co-Chairwoman Rep. Toni Walker, meanwhile, questioned whether the state needs so many hospitals.
Magnet schools: Malloy’s budget would provide magnet schools with $280 million, which is $19 million less than what they need to maintain current services. The Appropriations Committee’s budget doesn’t change the governor’s recommendation.
Tobacco trust fund: Advocates for anti-smoking programs say the money in this fund, which comes from a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies, should go toward anti-smoking programs. But the committee’s proposal would instead use money from the trust fund to pay for other things, including nearly $10 million in grants for mental health and substance abuse services.
Health care for prisoners: Correctional Managed Health Care, the part of the UConn Health Center that handles health care for state prisoners, ended the 2013 fiscal year with a $3.1 million surplus because of lower-than-expected pharmacy costs and position eliminations, and is expected to have a $2.5 million surplus this fiscal year. Malloy proposed cutting the program’s budget by $3 million, but the committee budgeted $5.5 million in savings.
Personal care attendants: The union representing home care workers who assist seniors and people with disabilities is negotiating its first contract with the state. Malloy’s budget proposal included nearly $3.5 million to cover an anticipated wage increase for the attendants. The committee reduced the amount of money available for the wage hike to $2 million.
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