Veto Would Wipe Out State Support for Connecticut Libraries
Librarians in Connecticut are caught in the crossfire of a budget battle between Connecticut Gov. Jodi Rell and the state legislature that could zero out state aid for libraries beginning July 1. Among the programs whose funding would be suspended is the Department of Information Technology’s Connecticut Education Network, which subsidizes internet connections for schools and libraries statewide.
The governor’s revised budget for FY2009–11, which she released May 28, proposed the elimination of some $5 million in state aid that libraries expected to receive in the next biennium. The Connecticut Library Association quickly alerted its members that the cuts would shut down such collaborative efforts as the statewide iCONN digital library; the ReQuest union catalog of the 20.8-million holdings in the state’s school, public, and academic libraries; support for Connecticard, which has funded 4.7 million library transactions across municipal lines; and the 46.5% discount on materials acquisitions that member libraries receive through the Cooperating Library Service consortium.
As have library advocates in Ohio, the Connecticut library community spoke out forcibly about the effect of Rell’s budget proposal. “The state has put pressure on to regionalize, to have efficiencies through collaboration, and the libraries have been an absolute model of that,” Ridgefield Library Director Chris Nolan said in the June 23 Ridgefield Press. “Let’s not abandon it.”
The library community’s message apparently resonated with lawmakers: According to a June 26 posting to the Capital Watch blog of the Hartford Courant, the legislature sent the governor a budget June 26 that reverses the library cuts and returns funding to FY2008 levels. However, Rell has already vowed to veto the measure. State Sen. John McKinney (R-Fairfield) told the June 26 New Haven Register that after the anticipated veto, legislators and Rell should “close the door, throw away the key, and not come out until we all agree.” According to the June 24 Hartford Courant, Rell has stated that she would sign executive orders to keep state government operating after June 30 if needed.
“Flat funding would be great,” CLA President Kathy Leeds told American Libraries, emphasizing that “if we win a victory, it will be for our customers, for our communities, for the people who really are in need.” In the meantime, she said, library leaders will “continue to contact legislators and thank them for their support,” musing that difficult times present “a wonderful opportunity, as any challenge is, to let people know what good libraries do.”
American Libraries, Fri, 06/26/2009 - 12:11