Budget Shmudget: Vetoed As Talks Continue

The state of Connecticut starts its fiscal year without a budget.

On Wednesday, as promised, Governor M. Jodi Rell vetoed a spending bill backed by Democrats. It happened as talks between the two sides continued.

In her two-page veto message, Rell called the plan "unbalanced, unaffordable, and unfinished.". She called the $2.5 billion in new taxes "exactly the wrong move at the wrong time." She also objected to millions of dollars in unspecified spending cuts.

Democratic leaders fired back saying the budget bill cut billions of dollars in government spending and includes cost-saving measures backed by Republicans.

The veto came as budget talks between the two sides continued Wednesday at the Governor's residence. It was the fourth day in a row that the sides met to try hammering out a deal. The talks ended without an agreement - and without details released.

For now, the state is operating in this new fiscal year under a one-month executive order issued by Governor Rell. The order provides specific dollar allotments to state agencies.

Hundreds of organizations offering state-funded vocational rehabilitation services are finding the executive order amounts to at least a one percent funding cut, according to Terry Edelstein of the Connecticut Community Providers Association. "An organization can't readily spend 99 percent of a salary, can't talk to a mortgage holder about paying 99 percent of a mortgage."

Now, those organizations may have to cut jobs and services, said Edelstein.

Gilead Community Services in Middletown offers mental health, addiction, and vocational training services to help clients lead more independent lives. "I'm going to have to do something," said Barry Simon, the executive director. "I don't know what it's gonna be but for every percent for us, it's about $100,000 and we already know we have about a $165,000 increase in our health benefits."

Budget talks are expected to continue Thursday.

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