We Can't Afford Poor, Downtrodden Anymore

It's Rescission Time!

Rescission Time is celebrated in Connecticut between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a moment in the year when we take stock of what is really important to those less fortunate than ourselves and then announce that they're not going to get it.

No one likes Rescission Time, but it is necessary because our state government is not bringing in as much money as it needs for the expenses it pays out. This is a completely unforeseeable situation that has never happened before except at all the places the rest of us work. At our workplaces, pay has been cut and people have been laid off. The state, because of deals it has made, cannot do either of those things.

Another thing the state cannot do is charge more for its services. That would be a tax increase, and the state leaders have promised not to do that even if it means boiling the fat out of every last blind, deaf or blind-deaf child. If you think I am making a macabre joke, let me assure you that, although Education for the Blind and Visually Handicapped took a massive rescission hit ($241,000), special training for the Deaf-Blind was also snipped by $15,000. And that's for kids, I'm pretty sure. Adults were covered by the cut of nearly $1 million in Aid to the Disabled and of $38,000 in Aid to the Blind. Ho Ho Ho! Merry Rescissionmas!

Really, when you run down the list, it's amazing how close to a tax increase we were driven by the constant jingling demands of these disabled people.

And not just them. Addicts, the mentally ill and developmentally challenged people. In good times, maybe we can help these blighters out. These are bum times, so we're cutting about $29 million. Sorry, blighters!

AIDS services? That is so 1980. That rescission is $248,000. Mega-dittoes on needle exchange, which was snipped by $22,000.

Do you want to know what is not so 1980? You! You are so super-special that we know not to raise your taxes. It's what gives us the strength to say, "Hey blind junkies with pervasive developmental disorder! Figure something out!"

I have seen the rescission list, and it is a document that we can be proud of. Child abuse and neglect intervention? A luxury item. It's nice to do when we're flush, but right now we have to snip $270,000. And it was high time we shook another $656,000 from the Children's Trust Fund, which is just a big Santa's bag full of feel-good programs like shaken baby prevention and legal services on behalf of indigent children (often in really hairy custody cases).

I don't want you to waste a minute worrying about this when you're out Christmas shopping. Children do better standing on their own two little feet. Isn't that the whole point of all those Dickens novels?

I can already hear you complaining that this picture is unbalanced. Surely there must be sunshine, laughter and roast goose in some parts of town. Why am I accentuating the negative?

You got me. I intentionally skipped over some of the good news, such as the discovery this week that higher education officials are getting all kinds of wonderful prizes. The Associated Press revealed this week that the four Connecticut State University presidents receive at least $25,000 a year on top of their $290,000-plus salaries. Just as kind of walking-around money. They don't have to explain what they do. The new president of Southern was hired for $294,460 but also gets $35,000 for a housing allowance. Similar to the way your employer assumes your actual salary should not be frittered away on housing. They also get cars, longevity bonuses, performance bonuses.

The guy who was running that whole system until recently got, in addition to his vacation, an extra six weeks so he could go work out of his second house in Minnesota. Even though we paid $19,000 in moving expenses so he could come here.

There are more of these high-end state compensation stories than I could tell in a lifetime. So don't go fretting about sick, indigent children. Any one of them could have a shot at a big brass ring someday. If they survive Rescissionmas.

Colin McEnroe appears from 1 to 2 p.m. weekdays on WNPR-FM (90.5) and blogs at He can be reached at

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