Malloy plan would eliminate school aid to 85 districts

Markets Associated Press

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday announced a new spending plan that would eliminate state education aid to 85 school districts and reduce school aid to another 54 cities and towns, if the state budget impasse isn't resolved by next month.

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A new executive order by the Democratic governor would provide $1.46 billion to school districts with the highest student needs and greatest reliance on state aid. Thirty districts designated as the state's neediest — including the state's largest cities — would see no cuts to their aid.

Many districts, wealthy and middle-income, would face losing millions of dollars in state education aid under the governor's plan .

Malloy also would restore $40 million of the $100 million he cut from private, nonprofit health and human service providers in a previous executive order issued in June.

"In the absence of an adopted budget from the General Assembly, my administration is reallocating resources to pay for basic human services, education in our most challenged school districts and the basic operation of government," Malloy said, adding that cities and towns would be forced to make difficult choices as a result of the loss of aid.

State lawmakers have been unable to agree on a budget for the fiscal year that began July 1 and the following year, compelling Malloy to run state government with his limited spending authority. The state, with an annual budget of around $20 billion, faces an estimated $3.5 billion deficit over two years.

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The governor's plan immediately was criticized by some Democratic and Republican legislative leaders, as well as the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, as being devastating to cities and towns.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven, said the order would "guarantee massive property tax increases" and "flies in the face" of a state court ruling that said Connecticut's education funding system is unfair — a decision under appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Senate Democratic Leader Martin Looney, of New Haven, and Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, of Berlin, said Democrats in both chambers continue working on a budget plan that would avoid the cuts proposed by the governor. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House but are evenly split with Republicans 18-18 in the Senate, where Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman can break tie votes.

Local education officials have been taking severe steps to cut costs, including delaying the opening of school and laying off teachers, with the uncertainty of state aid and the new school year approaching.