- Associated Press - Friday, June 30, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Nonprofit social service agencies prepared Friday to cut programs, close facilities and lay off staff after Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an order that slashes funding to maintain essential state services after lawmakers couldn’t come to terms on a budget before the end of the fiscal year.

Barry Simon, president and CEO of Oak Hill, said his Hartford-based agency which serves people with developmental disabilities has decided to close four group homes and consolidate two others. Oak Hill was already losing money on those programs and anticipated the problem would be acerbated by the additional state reimbursement cuts in Malloy’s executive order.

“Because of this situation, we’re pulling the trigger because it’s only going to get worse,” he said.

Simon said 26 individuals live at the six affected group homes, some as long as 20 years. Most are being moved into other facilities. Meanwhile, Oak Hill is scaling back day programs and employment services for people currently receiving services. And Simon said his agency cut off new admissions two months ago, in anticipation of the state budget impasse.

Malloy called it “regrettable” he had to sign the executive order. When it became clear an agreement wasn’t possible on a new, two-year state budget before the fiscal year ended, the Democrat urged the General Assembly to pass a three-month “mini budget” he created. Malloy said it would be less draconian than the executive order and give lawmakers more time to reach a budget deal.

While Democratic and Republican state Senate leaders supported Malloy’s mini budget, House leaders did not. Democratic House officials instead offered an eleventh-hour, two-year budget they said can be ready for a vote July 18. Malloy, however, was unenthusiastic about the proposal.

State agencies began notifying social service agencies about the funding ramifications of Malloy’s executive order. For example, a letter from the Department of Developmental Services to providers said there will be a 10 percent cut to employment and day services. The agency listed six days between July and April that it considered “furlough days,” when no employment or day support activity will be reimbursed by the state.

Malloy’s executive order also eliminates funding for the state’s five community-based independent living centers. They help people with various disabilities and health issues live on their own.

Forty-six-year-old Marvin Brown of Naugatuck said he relies on Independence Northwest Inc. for services ranging from a rental subsidy to coordination of his medical appointments. Brown worries that he and others who use the centers may end up homeless or worse if the program is shuttered.

“It’s a scary time because I hear other people who are also worried, that have families, children. These people are scared because we don’t know what tomorrow holds. We don’t know,” he said. “You’re going to see deaths from this. What else are people going to do?”

Tony Corso is the program director at Dana’s House, a residential program in New Haven for former inmates reintegrating into the community. His agency, Family ReEntry, is currently working with banks to secure a line of credit to keep their operations running. In the meantime, it is considering whether to shut down some beds, lay off staff, delay taking on new clients or cut court-mandated programs the agency provides, such as domestic violence classes.

Every month, more than 1,200 inmates return to the state’s major cities, Corso said.

“There are going to be thousands of people who are going to be affected,” he said. “You’re looking at a safety issue for communities and a safety issue for the populations we’re serving.”

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