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Rell Proposal Axes Boards and Commissions

HARTFORD — In what some called an effort to streamline government, Gov. Jodi Rell’s budget proposal eliminates several boards and commissions that would affect women and minorities.

Rell last Tuesday signed Executive Order 24, which aims at cutting up to 90 state government task forces and commissions. This, the Rell administration said, will help shrink the state bureaucracy and reduce costs. The order is expected to take effect March 1, 2009.

“These task forces and commissions have served many useful purposes — but they were created in better fiscal times and now more than ever, Connecticut needs a smaller and less intrusive government,” Rell said in a recent press release.

“For decades, both the size of government and its role in our citizens’ lives have been expanding, she added. “By eliminating these agencies, we take the first steps toward my comprehensive goal of downsizing and streamlining state government.”
But several prominent commissions, including the African American Affairs Commission, the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women are saying not so fast.

Several proponents of these commissions are racheting up thier push to stop Rell’s proposed foreclosure on agencies, they say, have helped to provide critical services to marginalized communities.

“We have sounded the alarm to let the community know what’s going on,” said Werner Oyanadel, chief legislative analyst with the LPRAC. “Our communities are disproportionally affected by these proposed cuts.”

In additions to hearings held in previous weeks, LPRAC will be hosting a reception on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Building, Oyanadel said.
In her budget proposal for the 2010-2011 fiscal years, Rell has recommended the elimination of 70 state boards, commissions and committees and the merger or consolidation of an additional 20. Cost savings will be achieved by eliminating mileage reimbursements and expenses for members, by eliminating Connecticut’s participation on particular boards and by reducing the number of members on other boards or commissions.

“Tough economic times are when new ideas and approaches matter most,” the Rell said. “Many of these entities have functions that are already being addressed by other state agencies or they have completed the tasks they were established to address.”
Spokespeople for several commissions disagreed.

According to one commission’s website, their commission “Connecticut’s only statewide advocate for African Americans is being zeroed out.”
Governor Rell’s Executive Order will eliminate the Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness, the Advisory Commission on American and Francophone Cultural Affairs, the Governor’s Competitiveness Council, the Governor’s Small Business Advisory Council, the Governor’s Identity Theft Advisory Board, and the Governor’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council.

The Executive Order also asks the Department of Transportation to consider dissolving the Buckland Area Transportation Study Advisory Committee, given that the Committee has accomplished its intended purpose. In addition, it asks the Connecticut Economic Resource Center Board to consider dissolving or terminating its board.

A copy of Executive Order 24 is attached.

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