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Budget Cuts Threaten CT Independent Living Centers

Helping people with disabilities live independently saves Connecticut millions of dollars a year. (CDC)
Helping people with disabilities live independently saves Connecticut millions of dollars a year. (CDC)
June 15, 2017

HARTFORD, Conn. – Advocates for people with disabilities say cutting funding for the state's independent living centers would cost Connecticut millions of dollars.

In his efforts to close the state's $5.5 billion, two-year budget shortfall, Gov. Dannel Malloy has proposed eliminating the entire $529,000 of state funding for the centers.

The five centers help people with disabilities find housing, services and jobs so they can stay out of nursing facilities that are generally paid for by Medicaid, with the state picking up part of the tab.

Eileen Healy, chair of the Connecticut Association of Centers for Independent Living, maintains cutting state funds would be penny wise and pound foolish.

"We transitioned 233 people back into community living last year, and we estimate that that saves, on an annual basis, about $11 million," she points out.

Funding already had been reduced to $372,000 for the current fiscal year, and then cut further by the governor to just $200,000.

Healy says the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee has proposed $250,000 in funding, and a Republican budget proposal would raise it back to $372,000.

"It kind of goes back and forth,” Healy states. “I'm thankful that we're in the budgets at all and that we're not being cut, but it's still not where we would like to be."

Healy notes the centers do have other funding streams, but those have restrictions on how the money is used – which makes the state funding essential.

"These are the dollars that we tend to refer to as our 'core money,'” she points out. “It's what keeps the lights on. It's what funds the basic services that we provide."

Healy adds the centers not only save the state money, they also improve the quality of the life for hundreds of people with disabilities.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT