Mental Health Services Hit By Budget Cuts

One of the most significant cuts announced by Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration this week was to the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

The reduction, totaling $7 million, will affect the services provided by non-profit providers around Connecticut.

Mental Health Connecticut helps with outpatient and residential programs for about 4,000 patients statewide.

Luis Perez, the group's CEO, said lawmakers and the general public need to grasp the significance of such a reduction.

“Individuals and families who have had access to the system will not be able to access the healthcare that they need and it’s really a healthcare issue here," Perez said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday he doesn't want to make cuts to social service programs, but the design of the budget leaves him no choice.

“Let’s put it this way, that’s the only portion of the budget that they let me make rescissions in," Malloy said.

"So I have said to both Republicans and Democrats expand my rescissionary authority and I’ll get it done.”

Malloy described the cuts as "tough" and not being done with a "butcher knife" but more carefully.

Overall, the administration announced $65 million in reductions with a request for $13 million more from the legislative and judicial branches.

Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Republican on the budget-writing Appropriations Committee, said the governor's wish for more budget cutting authority is one he wouldn't relinquish.

The GOP unveiled its budget cutting plan this week that didn't include cuts to social services. Sen. Kane, (R - Watertown), said both the governor and Democrats could take from the Republican playbook.

“Our package did not do that. We believe in saving the safety net and those most vulnerable," said Kane.

Perez with Mental Health Connecticut said the cuts, "do not reflect the commitment of the Malloy administration" to mental health.

He said Malloy has been a staunch advocate for those programs.

Perez said of the overall budget situation, "I don’t envy any of their positions quite frankly.”

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