Some municipalities left empty-handed by Malloy’s school funding plan
Published 2:19 pm, Wednesday, February 7, 2018
WILTON — Some 33 communities, a good chunk of them from Fairfield County, would lose what little education aid they now get from the state under a budget adjustment plan unveiled Monday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
Essentially, any town whose Equalized Net Grand List Per Capita exceeds $200,000 would lose education funding.
In all, nearly $8.6 million would be stripped from the nearly $2 billion educational aid grant. Communities affected include Wilton, as well as surrounding towns like Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, Weston and Westport.
The proposal is a plan Malloy tried and failed last year to get through the Legislature. If Malloy succeeds this time around, Fairfield would lose nearly $1 million while Wilton would lose the $387,564 in education aid that it gets this year.
First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the cuts to education and municipal aid for Wilton comes as no surprise.
“He is proposing just under $600,000 less than we are scheduled to receive this year. The amount is only $200,000 less than we had budgeted for this year as we expected the cuts to occur this year,” Vanderslice said.
Still, Vanderslice said the budget proposal is another example of “the need for leadership to develop meaningful and realistic solutions to address the State’s fiscal problems.”
Betsy Gara, executive director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, said property taxpayers in the state’s small towns are almost at a tipping point.
“Cutting municipal aid and forcing steep hikes in property taxes will very likely push them over the edge,” Gara said.
Poorer districts like Bridgeport and Danbury would be held harmless under the main school funding formula, state budget chief Ben Barnes said in a noon news conference at the state Capitol.
The rollout of a planned formula change aimed at redistributing funds would remain intact, but its rollout would be slowed down.
Additionally, the proposal would cut $7 million from a separate priority grant on which districts like Bridgeport depend.
The Legislature, which started its session on Wednesday, will be asked to restore some of the planned reduction to community colleges in the second year of a two-year budget which was approved in late October — four months after the 2017-18 fiscal year began.
In essence, instead of a planned cut, the community colleges system would get $2 million more than it is getting now, said Maribel La Luz, a spokeswoman for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities, which includes the state’s 12 community colleges.
Barnes said the administration did not believe the system could sustain further cuts.
“This makes a difference to our community colleges, and we are grateful for the consideration given to our students even though the colleges will still begin to operate in the red in the current year ... and use up our reserves in fiscal year 2020,” La Luz said.
Malloy’s plan leaves the appropriation to the University of Connecticut as is and would pump $200 million into the UConn Next Generation construction program. Another $95 million would go to the Connecticut State College and University building program.
As for teacher pensions, Malloy’s plan calls for paying state contributions into the system as scheduled, but seeks reforms to the formula going forward so as to drastically reduce future required contributions to the fund, given the state the budget stability it needs moving forward, he said.