CT nonprofits worry new budget doesn’t include enough funding for people in need
Connecticut nonprofits are concerned that the budget recently passed by state lawmakers doesn’t include enough funding for a variety of people in need.
That includes mental health care services for children. Last year’s budget provided $26 million to establish children’s behavioral health crisis centers across Connecticut, and most of that money was a one-time contribution from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), COVID-19 economic stimulus funds.
The new budget does not provide funding to operate the crisis centers once the federal funding runs out.
Among those concerned: Gian-Carl Casa, CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, a consortium of nonprofits statewide.
“The idea behind the crisis centers is that they really are [a] step down from hospitalization for kids who need help,” Casa said. “And they were planned on being opened up for in the coming weeks. The funding for it was not provided in the state budget that was passed.”
But Jeffrey Beckham, secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said the state is looking into it.
“The agencies are assessing those and we're going to see [in] the midterm if we need to pick those up in the general fund,” he said.
Casa said the budget that was just passed only provides for a 2.5% increase over the previous year for nonprofits – that’s at a time the state has a $3 billion surplus. He said if one added the state's rainy day fund to the surplus, the total amounted to nearly $7 billion.
“That doesn't seem to be in line with what Connecticut is and has been over the past few years. It's a state that traditionally is very compassionate,” he said. “But inflation for nonprofit providers over the last two years has been 16%.”
And it comes at a time as there’s more need than ever for a variety of services, from helping people with substance use disorders to people experiencing homelessness, Casa said.
That means people are going to wait longer for services, Casa said. And it will be harder for nonprofits to have people work for them or work with them because of limited funding.
“Services can't be provided,” he said. “After the Great Recession in 2008, it was very difficult for the state to have enough resources to provide the budget to nonprofits with what they needed to do the job. That's not the situation today. Today, the money's there. But the state is choosing to adhere to what folks call the fiscal guardrails.”
Connecticut Public’s Chris Polansky contributed to this report.