HARTFORD, Conn. --
Gov. M. Jodi Rell's two-year, $38.4 billion budget proposal would
cut 400 jobs, seek hundreds of millions of dollars in concessions
from state labor unions and eliminate or consolidate 23 state
commissions to make up an estimated $8.6 billion budget shortfall.
Details of the proposal were released by members of the governor's
staff at 10:30 a.m. in Hartford. Rell was scheduled to address a
joint session of the General Assembly at noon Wednesday.
In addition to the job cuts, her budget eliminates nearly 450 other
vacant state jobs. Officials said additional job cuts are likely in
"There is pain and sacrifice in this budget, but it is shared pain
and sacrifice. We are in this struggle together, and we will need
to work together, to lead together, in deed as well as in word,"
Rell said. "Simply put: The bloat of bureaucracy is no longer
affordable. Over the years, over the decades, state government
often lost sight of what its core mission was and who it was
The governor is asking for $275 million in concessions from state
Rell wants to eliminate commissions such as the Permanent
Commission on the Status of Women, the Asian-Pacific Affairs
Commission, the African-American Affairs Commission and the Latino
and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission.
"Rather than seeing our work as expendable, the governor should
instead consider it preventive medicine, which is always more
cost-effective than treating a condition that's gotten out of
control,” said Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent
Commission on the Status of Women. “For example, the PCSW saves the
state about $400,000 in education and training in sexual harassment
prevention, cutting down on the number of sexual harassment
complaints filed now saves money on unnecessary litigation later.
Ensuring that women have access to mammograms today means less
medical intervention tomorrow. And that's how our work operates
across the span of a woman's life.
"Gov. Rell says she will use state resources for legitimate
purposes,” she said. “Who would argue about the legitimacy of
economic security for women and families? It's a fallacy to think
that Connecticut's families will be strong if women are still
financially insecure. One-fifth of Connecticut's female-headed
households live below the poverty line, and these are the kinds of
issues which the PCSW is mandated to address. And we do it at a
cost of just 77 cents for each woman over the age of 18 here in
Connecticut. That's how our budget divides up among the state's
For 36 years, she
said, the commission has been providing research and analysis to
the Legislature and the public on issues affecting women.
“When you take a look and realize that it's women, it's children,
it's the elderly and it's working class that are really going to be
hit by this,” she said. “So we're really a little taken aback. At
the same time, now we know what her thoughts are and her
expectations are and now it will be for everybody else to put
together another plan -- an alternative that represents the people
The governor is pledging not to raise taxes and said her
tax-and-spending plan will make government more efficient.
The proposal also
raises most license fees and imposes new license surcharges for bad
drivers and people convicted of serious motor vehicle crimes.
Rell is suggesting that drivers who accumulate at least 7 points on
their licenses in two years be required to pay a $100 annual fee
for two years. Drivers convicted of a serious motor vehicle crime
would pay $1,000 a year for two years to keep their licenses.
Rell's office expects increases in overall fees and licenses will
raise $100 million in 2010 and $72 million in 2011.
Leaders of the legislature's Democratic majority said they're
waiting to see details of the Republican governor's plan, but some
are already questioning whether it's possible to address the
deficit without raising taxes.
Other budget-saving measures would close courthouses in Bristol and
Meriden and consolidate the state's 117 probate courts to 36
courts. The two court consolidations would transfer 29 jobs to
other courthouses and cut another 29 jobs.
"It's also time for reform of our probate court system," Rell said.
"Our system is antiquated and broken. I am proposing an overhaul
that will reduce the number of courts, improve services and
increase the hours of operation. It will also save money."
Rell's proposal also includes a cap on tax credits to the film
The budget must be approved by the Democrat-controlled General
Assembly, which has enough members in both the House and Senate to
override vetoes. Democratic leaders have already questioned whether
it's possible to avoid tax increases with such a large deficit.
Rell does plan to propose some new spending -- $7.5 million to
create the new Connecticut Civilian Conservation Corps for the
state's growing unemployed. The state's
is about 7 percent.
The new program would be mirrored after one created during the
Great Depression to help young men find work. Eligible men and
women would earn wages while working on state and local public
works projects such as clearing trails and cleaning parks, beaches
and pollluted properties. Some could work on projects funded by the
expected federal stimulus money the state will receive.
"The program has not yet been finalized but money has been set
aside in the budget," Rell said. "I ask your help, as the
Legislature, to craft a formal and final plan with me so that we
can put it into place by July 1."
Rell's plan also included merging the vo-tech high school and
community college system together with the state's Office of
Workforce Competitiveness to create the Middle College System. The
system would allow students to earn 60 college credits within five
years of starting high school.
"My proposal lights a clear path to success for more than 10,000
students now in Connecticut's vo-tech high school system and will
sharply improve the graduation rates and career prospects for our
-- all while ensuring htat a skilled work force will be in place to
help us achieve economic success," Rell said.