To the Editor:
Not having a state budget is causing far-reaching problems in Connecticut.
Recently, Governor Malloy told us the types of cuts he would make to local education if a budget isn’t adopted soon. The majority of school districts will receive no state funding.
Nonprofit social service agencies have already experienced two furlough days where they had to close their doors and could not provide services for their intellectually and developmentally disabled clients. Those furlough days, as well as two more in September and October, are in addition to cuts to services and programs.
Besides the promised cuts to education, municipalities lost hundreds of millions of dollars in road repair grants, revenue sharing funds, and property tax relief. Towns are left treading water and wondering if they will be saddled with the $400 million in payments to the state’s Teacher Retirement Plan the governor is seeking.
With such enormous problems taking center stage in the budget debate, it isn’t surprising that a failure to fund a smaller, but still important service by the state has gone unnoticed. The three-volley gun salute at veterans’ funerals has been silent since July 1.
As co-chairman of the legislature’s Veterans Affairs Committee I believe this failure has left an embarrassing black mark on Connecticut and does a grave disservice to our veterans and their families.
Because we do not have a state budget, the governor has been running government under an executive order. The executive order does not include funding to provide the honor guard that performs the traditional gun salute. Family members who expected their loved-ones to receive this honor at funerals since July 1 have been surprised and disappointed.
The federal government provides Connecticut between $750,000 and $1 million each year to pay for the mandated playing of Taps and the folding and presentation of an American flag. The gun salute is the sole responsibility of the state.
I wish I could say that this is a new development, but Governor Malloy also proposed cutting funding for military honors at funerals from the state’s budget in 2015. I am glad to say that the legislature promptly restored funding then. I continue to work on legislation that would require state funding of these military honors in every state budget.
When I learned that funding for military honors at funerals stopped on July 1, I felt embarrassed. Now, I am perplexed. Why would the governor do this?
I am bewildered that political gamesmanship allowed the state to start a new fiscal year without a budget. I am puzzled that the Governor would use this situation to deprive our veterans and their families of the honor they so clearly deserve.
Senate Republicans proposed a budget several months ago, which would provide the funding for education, town aid, social services, and honor guard salutes. Our proposal was revised each time we received new information about changes to the projected deficit, or when we responded to concerns from others about certain program cuts. You can review our most recent proposal at www.NewDirectionCT.com .
It’s time to restore the funding for veterans, schools, social services and municipalities. Enough is enough. Connecticut deserves a budget.
State Senator Henri Martin represents the 31st State Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bristol, Harwinton, Plainville, Plymouth, and Thomaston.