HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — State lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to soften the blow to over 100 towns that the governor has targeted for public school funding cuts. Governor Dannel Malloy says that the towns must share the pain in solving next year’s $1.7 billion budget hole.
Governor Malloy’s so-called ‘Robin Hood’ approach to funding public education would send more cash to under performing school systems like Waterbury, Hartford and New Haven at the expense of more than 100 other, better off towns around the state that would get less. In Southern Connecticut, Wallingford takes the biggest hit; a $10 million cut. The biggest cut would be to West Hartford.
“West Hartford is already sending out layoff notices to over 200 teachers. Now they’re probably not going to lay that many off, but that means they are very concerned and that’s going on across the state,” said Joe Cirasuolo of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents.
The governor’s proposed cuts to so many towns, along with his plan to have all the towns pay $400 million to offset the cost of teacher pensions is causing panic for local schools systems and town budgets.
“The governor’s proposal on educational funding and everything that goes with it, including the teachers pensions are overwhelming,” said Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-Wilton) who is the ranking Republican House member of the Education Committee.
The co-chair, Rep. Andy Fleischmann (D-West Hartford) said, “I’ve gotten letters, post cards, e-mails, phone calls, faxes, I mean the volume of noise coming to my office has been unprecedented.”
“Everyone is getting hammered,” said Lavielle.
The governor called all Capitol reporters to his office Tuesday and said the towns must help the state dig out of the $1.7 billion budget hole.
“I understand things are hard, progress is hard but I want to remind everybody I’ve had to layoff lots of employees. We’ve had our employees take zeros for many years with respect to their salaries. We need to share this obligation,” said Malloy.
There are calls from some at the State Capitol to raise taxes but the governor said that the budget deficit solution will “not be a revenue driven solution it will be a spending driven solution.” He also canceled this month’s State Bonding Commission meeting and says he will not authorize any new borrowing until a state budget solution is agreed.