The Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission has announced its legislative agenda for 2009 despite the Governor's budget recommendation to discontinue funding for it and many other state commissions due to budget constraints.
In 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Hispanics make up 12 percent of Connecticut's population and the number is expected to grow. Members of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission point to this fact as one of the reasons it should be allowed to continue its advocacy work. Werner Oyanadel, Legislative Analyst for the Commission, says despite Governor Rell's proposal to eliminate the commission, members have put together an agenda for the next year that focuses on challenges facing the Hispanic community. He says some of the challenges are caused by other reductions outlined in the Governor's budget
"In the HIV-AIDS subsection of the Department of Public Health. 40 percent of the budget is going to be cut within that service. And of course we know that many of those in those populations are Latinos or African-Americans."
The Commission receives about $500,000 of state funding.
Evette Servera, Vice President of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission says if the General Assembly goes along with Rell's proposal to eliminate the funding, Hispanic views will not be represented when lawmakers craft policies and legislation.
"The Latino community doesn't seem to have one voice representing them. If we don't have that, something is going to be lost."
Meanwhile, the Commission has appointed an interim Director, Lina Lorenzi of Killingworth, to lead the agency. Last September, the Commission fired its longtime director Fernando Betancourt for undisclosed reasons. Its attorney later reached a settlement with Betancourt.
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