To The Editor,
During our final meeting of the term, we on the Legislative Council moved to restore funding to the Board of Education as promised in a resolution I moved during the budget process, an action predicated on trust, collaboration, and partnership.
Less than 48 hours later, Governor Malloy ignored the intent of the legislature’s bipartisan budget to protect municipal funding, choosing not to find savings in the departments under his executive authority. Gov Malloy decided instead to push the state’s problems onto property taxpayers, withholding $91 million in municipal aid, a move The Hartford Courant said sent “school officials reeling.” For Newtown, his action cuts approximately $470,000 from our resources. These are important funds that go to our town and schools, funds that our delegation and local officials like myself fought for months to see restored.
What does this $470,000 reduction mean for Newtown? November 15 at our council meeting we discussed how restored funding could be used to supplement areas identified during the spring budget process, including funding for roads, adding it to our pension to comply with new actuarial tables and/or avoid delaying maintenance on the Board of Education side of the budget. On top of that there is a new challenge we are facing, as at the same meeting BOE Business Director Ron Bienkowski presented us with increased Special Education costs projecting upwards of $500,000. This is due to unexpected new enrollments and as Ron said, “The need is real.” The council took no action opting to wait until there was more clarity on the numbers.
Deciding where to allocate these resources would have been difficult decisions without the added curve ball of a funding reduction. Now, rather than supplementing our needs with approximately $573,000 as intended in the bipartisan state budget, we will be left with about $103,000, a remainder that will not come close to addressing the Special Education needs identified by the Board of Education.
I am deeply disappointed in the actions of the governor. Here in Newtown we collaborate between boards and while we may not always agree, we operate on trust and mutual respect. This failure to seek savings as intended will have a negative impact on Newtown’s taxes and/or services. Trust and protecting our municipal aid are things to consider as we begin to look for Malloy’s successor. The next state budget is likely to be just as difficult as the recent one, already projecting a $4.5 billion deficit in the next biennium. Let’s pick a better leader.
As always, my comments are my own and not on behalf of the Legislative Council, of which I am a member.
11 Jeremiah Road, Sandy Hook November 29, 2017