She warned the public on Monday that the cuts would be deep. Today, we’re finding out how deep.
Governor M. Jodi Rell today released her proposed budget for the two year period from 2009-2011. (You can find the summary here and her budget address here.) Although there will be plenty to analyze over the next few weeks and months, the changes she proposes would eliminate several state agencies and commissions while cutting back on several others.
The proposal numbers in the hundreds of pages so this post is not intended to be an exhaustive summary, but here are a few of the highlights of the budget that are relevant to the labor and employment law arena.
- The Governor did not propose eliminating the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (as a recent column in the Connecticut Law Tribune recommended). However, she has proposed closing the Norwich and Waterbury offices of the CHRO and transferring those cases to Hartford and Bridgeport. The proposed budget would also eliminate 28 full time positions (out of 103) though several of those positions are vacant right now. The closing of two offices is expected to save the government over $1.6M each year.
- The proposed budget also affects the Department of Labor which has seen an influx in unemployment claims over the last year. Among the proposed cuts:
- Elimination of the Youth Employment Program
- Elimination of Occupational Health Clinics
The budget would also create a new Middle College program (designed to transition students from the technical high schools and community colleges to additional educational opportunities) and move some of the DOL’s functions to this new program.
- The Office of Healthcare Advocate, which assists consumers to understanding their rights and responsibilities under various healthcare plans, would be eliminated and its functions transferred to the Insurance Department. For employers, the OHA has been responsible for a poster that was the subject of some discussion last year.
- The Judicial Branch would also receive a share of the cuts, including the proposed closing of the Bristol and Meriden courthouses. But notably, the Office of Attorney General is almost untouched by the budget with no losses of positions.
- The proposed budget would also eliminate the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women resulting in the elimination of 10 positions. Various other legislative commissions, such as the ones for Aging, Children, Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs, and African-American Affairs, have also been proposed for elimination.
Various legislative members have already expressed skepticism and opposition to the Governor’s plan (which is expected). Where the compromise ultimately ends up is a question that we probably won’t know the answer to for some time.
For employers that rely on various grants from the government or that deal with certain agencies on a frequent basis, the budget certainly indicates that it will not be business as usual in the future. What that means exactly is simply too early to tell.