Mother calls state budget stalemate “criminal”

Lois Nitch, of Rock Hill, spoke with News 8 about how budget cuts are making difficult for her to care for her son, Andy Puglisi. (WTNH / Mark Davis)

HARTFORD, SOUTHBURY and ROCKY HILL, Conn. (WTNH) — As the state budget stalemate at the capitol drags on, it’s having a serious impact on many lives.

One non-profit agency is closing several group homes and day programs for disabled adults and children.  The possibility of a budget deal next week looks dim and the Governor’s Executive Orders are resulting in real hurt.

52-year-old Andy Puglisi was diagnosed at a young age with cortical blindness, so he needs assistance walking. He also has cerebral palsy and is subject to seizure. Although he can walk and talk and count, he needs assistance brushing his teeth, buttoning his shirt and going to the toilet.

For the past eighteen years he has done well at a group home in Southbury operated by the non-profit Oak Hill.  But because of the state budget stalemate, the group home where Andy lives with four other men, is closing. Several other Oak Hill group homes are also closing.

His mother, Lois Nitch, of Rocky Hill, finds herself in a stressful family crisis at the age of 73 when she should be enjoying retirement.

Unbelievable stress. We haven’t told Andy yet, because when you talk to Andy the first thing he says is ‘I love my life, I love my home, ma.”

Not only is there the stress of not knowing how news of the change will affect Andy’s health, Lois says when she looks at other facilities; there are other parents like her in the same boat for the same reasons and there just aren’t that many places available.

Lois described the legislative state budget stalemate at the capitol this way;

I think it borders on criminal if you want to know the truth, that’s what’s going through my mind, that this is a criminal act.  These are people that ask very little.”

Barry Simon is the C.E.O. of Oak Hill and says,  “We have to make decisions that are very painful.”  The non profit serves about 40,000 Connecticut residents with disabilities in various programs and says without a state budget in place, their cash flow is taking a serious hit and they have no choice but to close group homes and programs.

Simon adding,  “God forbid, but I wish every legislator had a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, who lived in one of these homes. Then you would see a different public policy.”

In all, Oak Hill is closing 4 group homes, consolidating two others, closing day programs, and a ‘birth to three’ program.

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