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Rell's Proposed Health, Education Cuts Criticized By Connecticut Voices For Children
The governor's proposed cuts to state health and education programs would weaken two "leading areas of progress" in the state economy, according to a study released Tuesday by the advocacy group Connecticut Voices for Children.
While the state has continued to lose jobs in a variety of industries, from professional and business services to manufacturing, the state's health and education sectors have been growing by a combined 9,700 jobs between December 2007 and March 2009, according to the New Haven organization's report.
The report, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, says budget cuts proposed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell would undercut that growth and further damage the economy.
"The governor and state legislators should be doing everything they can to maximize growth in the largest and fastest growing area of our economy," said Douglas Hall, acting managing director of Connecticut Voices for Children. "Severe cuts to health and education would be an 'anti-stimulus package.' "
The report shows that Connecticut's health care and social support sector, which includes physicians, dentists, child-care workers and other health professionals, grew by 8,000 jobs from December 2007 to this March. The education sector grew by 1,700 jobs.
In the same period, Connecticut lost a net 49,300 jobs, according to the group.
Rell is proposing a wide range of health- and education-related cuts in the state budget, including an estimated $240 million worth of cuts to Medicaid, HUSKY and other medical coverage programs, and $14.3 million to magnet and charter schools. They are part of the $1.075 billion in cuts Rell is proposing for the next fiscal year's budget.
"The savings we found in those sectors of the budget were ones we felt were sustainable and would have the least amount of impact," said Jeffrey Beckham, a spokesman for Rell's budget office. "The funding for health care is far more generous than what our sister states pay. Connecticut has a robust social welfare spending history, and we've really kind of nicked that."
Connecticut Voices for Children is asking state legislators instead to institute a more progressive income tax, close corporate tax loopholes and scale back film tax credits.