Report by Paula Antolini
August 22, 2017 8:58PM EDT
Sen. McLachlan: Governor’s Cuts Harmful to Connecticut School Children
August 22, 2017
When Governor Malloy released his budget proposal in February, it called for a new Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding formula that would divert most of the state’s education funding to a few school districts while drastically reducing the funding all other school districts receive. State legislators rejected the Governor’s proposal because it did not adequately meet the education needs of all Connecticut school children.
Today, because we have no state budget, the Governor was able to go forward with his plan through executive order. The outlook for most of the state isn’t pretty.
We are a few short weeks from the state of a new school year and 85 school districts just learned that the Governor’s plan will provide them with no state education funding. Another 54 school districts will have their funding cut by as much as 80 percent while the remaining 30 school districts will receive the lion’s share of state money.
I represent the 24th State Senatorial District, where the Danbury school district can expect to receive the same amount of funding under the Governor’s executive order as it did last year. Unfortunately, the remaining towns, Bethel, New Fairfield, and Sherman will not receive any state education dollars.
We can stop the Governor’s education cuts from going forward by adopting a new state budget that provides sufficient education funding and aid to municipalities. Earlier this year, Senate Republicans released a budget with a new Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula that actually increases education spending by $33 million in 2018 and $136 million in 2019. It takes into account students receiving free and reduced-priced lunch, English-language learners, relative wealth, and need. Our budget also provided funding for municipalities and did not call for requiring communities to make payments into the teachers retirement plan negotiated by the state.
Adoption of state employee union contracts negotiated by Gov. Malloy makes it impossible to achieve some of the increased savings originally proposed by Senate Republicans. However, the new ECS formula and municipal funding formulas can still be factors in a new state budget.
I understand that legislators from different parties and different parts of the state will not agree on every aspect of a new state budget. That doesn’t mean we should sit on our hands while our schools and communities suffer.
It’s time to put an end to the finger-pointing. It’s time to put politics aside because the reality is that taxpayers don’t care what party you represent. They want you to do the job you were elected to do, and that is to pass a state budget that is in best interest of all of Connecticut’s school children and residents.
We need a budget that provides proper funding to educate all of the state’s students and that does not force municipalities to raise property taxes. State and local taxes are already too high.
We are running out of time to prevent these severe education cuts from happening. We are certainly out of excuses.
State Senator Michael McLachlan represents the 24th State Senatorial District, which includes the communities of Bethel, Danbury, New Fairfield, and Sherman.