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State healthcare workers march for budget increases to address social need

They're calling to rebuild Connecticut’s healthcare and mental health infrastructure

HARTFORD, Conn. — Over 200 state healthcare workers, community partners and elected officials marched in Hartford on Tuesday calling for an expansion of state healthcare and mental health services.

The theme of the event was “March for a Moral Budget.” Marchers walked down Capitol Avenue demanding new public investments in the biennial budget to rebuild Connecticut’s healthcare and mental health infrastructure, and other critical areas of urgent direct service.

“Here we are today, five decades after Dr. King’s assassination still determined to gain our rightful place in God’s world,” said Rev. Joan Cooper Burnett, associate chaplain with the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) at York Correctional Institution. "We’re still struggling to eradicate systemic racism, still fighting for dignity and human rights, still fighting for basic things like ensuring that a wealthy state like Connecticut gets to appropriate sufficient funding to be able to provide quality services."

The group said chronic underfunding of the state healthcare and mental health services is leaving behind Connecticut's most vulnerable populations.

It said the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services general funds reached $657 million in fiscal year 2011, and up to $697 million in 2013, but were reduced to $594 million in 2018 and $608 million in 2019.

“Here we are today hoping for our State of Connecticut, one of the wealthiest states in one of the wealthiest countries in the world to close the gap, to demolish economic disparities and to reverse long-standing racial inequalities. We hope that our state will protect struggling citizens and the vulnerable populations who need public services to survive," Burnett said. "We cannot wait any longer. Our families cannot wait another 50 years. We need redemption. We need it now!”

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