In Governor Rell's first budget proposal, she praised the effectiveness of the Department of Correction's reentry programs.
But when Rell offered a new package of proposed cuts last month, she recommended eliminating funding for one of them.
The Stride program starts working with inmates while they're still in prison, and follows them after release as they find jobs and reunite with their families. The program costs $300,000 dollars a year.
"We will fight to keep these programs, because they make sense for the state."
Denise Merrill is the House Majority Leader. When she chaired the Appropriations Committee, she watched incarceration costs grow and take up a bigger share of the budget. But she says this cut is a bad idea.
"There's a big difference between cutting programs and controlling costs in the budget. What we should be doing is controlling costs and not randomly cutting programs that are actually making money for us and helping people."
Most of the ex-offenders in the Stride program are women. All the clients are parents of children who have been on public assistance. The program has served more than 700 people in the last ten years. Just seven percent have gone back to prison, while the average recidivism rate in the state is more than five times that.
Susan Menefee is a Stride client. She went to jail in 2004 addicted to crack cocaine. Stride prepared her for release with counseling and job search skills, and she ended up with a job at a major hotel.
"My children got their mother back. My husband got his wife back. And my community received a member willing to help it grow rather than being a menace."
Rell budget office spokesman Jeff Beckham called the Stride program a nice extra when there is a lot of money, but he said balancing this budget requires making some some tough cuts.