Business, Education, and Healthcare Advocates Join State Public Service Workers to Oppose More Budget Cuts to Public Servicesby Matt O'Connor on December 15th
At a press conference on the steps of the State Capitol today, members of the unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) joined business, labor, education and advocacy groups to decry Governor M. Jodi Rell’s latest round of proposed cuts. The conference was organized by District 1199/SEIU, a member of the coalition.
In addition to the wide array of cuts the Governor has already enacted, she has proposed even deeper cuts to services that serve the elderly, children and the state’s most vulnerable citizens. Speakers who took the podium highlighted the shortsightedness of the Governor’s plan, and showed that slashing funding for vital services will further endanger Connecticut’s recovery and prolong the pain felt by so many across the state.
District 1199/SEIU President Carmen Boudier said “The Governor’s plan won’t make people’s lives better; it will make them worse. That’s why our members are standing up for the people we care for, night and day, all across Connecticut. This is about protecting the services our mothers, our grandmothers, our sisters, our aunts and everyone we serve depend on.”
In addition to the impact felt by those who use the services, the Governor’s current proposal will add to the jobless rolls indiscriminately. Her proposal will cost another 5,000 jobs, on top of the approximately 30,000 jobs that have been lost due to previous budget cuts.
CT Association of Health Care Facilities Executive Vice President Matthew Barrett put it even more bluntly, “The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right name. This deficit mitigation plan has a right name, and it is ‘job killer.’ It also undermines and jeopardizes the quality of care in CT nursing homes.”
In February of this year, SEBAC leaders delivered an open letter to Governor Rell warning of exactly the cycle that is occurring — specifically that drastic cuts to balance the budget would lead to a slower recovery which would lead to a new budget crisis and prolonged hardship for the people of the state. The letter including the following statement:
“[C]utting public services in this economic crisis would only make the problem worse for everyone. Connecticut’s people deserve more from their government than simply joining in the cycle of spending reductions, cutbacks, and layoffs. They deserve a government that invests in its people and infrastructure even more in difficult times, and so helps to spark the process of turning the economy around.”
“We were amazed when we saw that the governor proposed cutting the LPN Training Program — when the best social program is an opportunity to be trained for a good job. Our message to the Governor is: if this is the plan you want us to accept, we are here to say we need a better plan for the residents of CT,” said Alex Johnson, the Chief Operating Officer for Capitol Workforce Partners.
The Governor’s latest proposal also includes $84 million in cuts to towns and cities for local services, exacerbating the already frayed safety net that so many Connecticut residents need to get back on their feet. Public statements from SEBAC have pointed out that a solution based solely on spending cuts is untenable and that increases in revenue from those most able to pay is the only feasible next step.
The Governor has cut enough. Cutting funding for kids with Autism, people with AIDS, reducing heating fuel aid, funding to nursing homes and people with Alzheimer’s is not the way to close the budget gap. It is time to take a serious look at what Connecticut needs to recover. SEBAC leaders call on the Governor to begin a positive cycle of reinvestment, hope, and renewal, rather than a vicious cycle of cutback, despair, and decline.
District 1199 is one of thirteen unions in the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), which serves to unite approximately 50,000 Connecticut State Employees to address issues of common concern. To learn more about the coalition’s campaign for a fair budget and a livable state with great public services visit www.InThisTogetherCT.org.
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