Growing up in Bethel, Connecticut meant fall trips to Blue Jay Orchards when the leaves changed to vibrant reds, dinners at Famous Pizza and attending parks and recreation classes in the municipal center.
When I switched from a private school into a Bethel public school, I almost immediately heard adults whispering about the budget in somber tones. Signs would pop up on people’s lawns saying, “Vote No” or “Vote for our Education.” My sixth-grade English teacher even tried to explain the importance of voting on state budgets. At the time, I was more interested in convincing my parents I needed an iPod. I truly had no idea what my parents and the town would be voting for; I just knew it was important.
Currently, Connecticut has yet to vote on a state budget. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has responded by announcing that if Connecticut cannot decide on a state budget by October, there will be extremely sharp cuts to funding for towns and schools. The governor did this to highlight how urgently lawmakers need to vote on a new state budget.
How much debt does Connecticut have?
Connecticut currently has a $3.5 billion deficit, which is in no way small. This debt accumulated due to a domino effect of high taxes, which caused migration from the state, and led to falling revenues and $50 billion of unfunded personal liabilities. Connecticut also is in $23 billion of municipal debt. The state is one of the wealthiest in the country, but it currently has more debt than its citizens can reasonably handle.
How would the debt affect Connecticut residents’ lives?
Malloy’s suggested cuts would mean that the 30 poorest school districts would retain their funding, but schools in the dozens of other districts would receive no state funding at all. Milford, Connecticut schools received $10.8 million for the 2016-17 school year, but if no budget is created, they will receive $0 from the state for the 2017-2018 year.
The cuts would affect towns as well, not just schools. Portland expects to receive $4.6 million, however, if no budget is passed, the town will receive only $10,000. Needless to say, the proposed cuts have all of Connecticut on edge.
If the proposed budget cuts go through, it would mean that business such as MidState Arc will be forced to make cuts to their programs. MidState Arc’s program helps people with disabilities find work and learn how to live on their own in order to gain independence. If no budget is created and Malloy’s budget cuts go through, they would lose about $4 million and would have to eliminate seven staff positions.
Ultimately Malloy’s drastic proposed budget cuts are very harsh, but hopefully, the lawmakers of Connecticut will be able to vote on a budget soon so the ‘no budget’ budget will not go through. It is very disturbing and disheartening that Connecticut has no budget. Some schools even debated delaying the start of school and proposed dipping into reserve funds to preserve programs until a budget is created. With frustration rising, hopefully, lawmakers leave partisanship outside the courtroom and vote to help Connecticut citizens as much as they can.
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