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State Lays Off Workers Who Aid People with Developmental Disabilities

Layoffs included speech pathologists and occupational therapists. (Birmingham Culture/Wikimedia Commons)
Layoffs included speech pathologists and occupational therapists. (Birmingham Culture/Wikimedia Commons)
May 4, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. - More than 100 state employees who work for the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services were laid off on Tuesday.

The layoffs included a majority of those who work as occupational therapists and speech pathologists with people with developmental disabilities, said Jen Schneider, communications director for SEIU 1199 New England, the union representing the workers.

"These are people who've been working with the disabled to teach them how to better speak and be able to communicate and be higher functioning so that they are able to hold a job or communicate better with their loved ones," she said.

On Monday, Gov. Dannel Malloy submitted a revised budget proposal that would increase funding for DDS but continues to rely on service cuts to close the budget gap.

If the governor will not raise taxes, Schneider said, there still are other sources of revenue he could tap into, "one of which is the Rainy Day Fund that has $400 million in it before cutting these programs that really are vital to our state and to people who depend on them."

The legislative session officially ends today. Legislators have said that if no agreement is reached, they immediately will call a special session to continue the negotiations.

Whenever the budget is completed, Schneider said, it should be fair, especially to those with the greatest need.

"Hopefully, they'll be able to get a budget that works for people in the state, providing the services as a state that we need to," she said, "where we're not just balancing the budget on the backs of the most vulnerable."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT