State budget cuts could hurt those with special needs - WFSB 3 Connecticut

State budget cuts could hurt those with special needs

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Those impacted by the cuts at the Department of Developmental Services wanted their voices to be heard on Wednesday. Those impacted by the cuts at the Department of Developmental Services wanted their voices to be heard on Wednesday.

 The state's budget problems caused cuts across the board including for those with special needs.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released $65 million worth of recissions from the executive branch to help address a $220 million deficit. The recessions released by the governor on Wednesday hit the Department of Developmental Services the hardest. 

The governor took $17 million away from the Department of Developmental Services. These cuts would affect hundreds of people waiting to live in group homes.

Those impacted by the cuts want their voices to be heard.  

More than 2,000 disabled adults are on a waiting list to get into a group home. Others said they are worried they may get kicked out. They fear cuts will prevent many from living independently.

"I am here because I have a 25-year-old son who has autism,” parent Lynn Arezzini said. “And the funding for Department of Developmental Services has been slashed repeatedly by the governor and we can't take any more cuts."

Arezzini's son Karl is a gifted musician, yet he has difficulty brushing his teeth.

Karl Arezzini has been living at a group home, but his mother worries budget cuts will cause funding to run out and he will have to move back home.

"We can't afford to pay for him forever, especially after we die,” Lynn Arezzini said. 

The governor's budget includes cuts to just about every state agency. The state's deficit this year is about 220 million.

Republicans have a plan. One that would restore cuts to the Department of Developmental Services, but would make cuts to other state accounts.

As both sides try to work out a plan, the frustration and anguish took its toll on families.

"I just can't do it anymore. I am going to have a breakdown,” parent Heddy Castelano said. “I am at that point in my life where I am going to have a breakdown."

Castelano's daughter Jessica is totally disabled and has been on a waiting list for 24 years. Her mom is pleaded with lawmakers not to cut the budget.

“Keep the budget for all the kids that are handicapped. It’s needed,” Castelano said. “It’s not easy to take care of it and comes a point where you can't do it anymore."

Here's some of the departments that would be hit the hardest:

  • Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services would lose more than $7 million 
  • Department of Children and Families would be down more than than $6.5 million 
  • University of Connecticut will lose more than $4 million  

The governor released a statement on the cuts. 

"These were difficult decisions, but ones that nevertheless have to be made to ensure that we don't spend more than we actually have...Together, we must adjust our overall spending expectations. I look forward to continuing to meet with Democratic and Republican leadership in both chambers in order to find the best solutions possible," Malloy said. 

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) also released a statement on the new budget cuts. 

House and Senate Democrat inaction has clearly pushed Gov. Malloy to make these cuts. The Democrats are dragging their feet and the governor is taking notice. Republicans released a complete deficit mitigation plan this week because we recognize the need for the legislature to act. We applauded the governor for calling on lawmakers to do their job, now it’s time we actually vote on a package to close the budget shortfall immediately, not at the end of the month. It is the Democrats’ hesitation that led to the governor’s action today, therefore Democrats must be held accountable for the governor’s cuts. Republicans have put an alternative reasonable, responsible plan on the table the governor has said he would sign into law if passed by the General Assembly. What are the Democrat leaders waiting for?” 

To see the full list of cuts, click here

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