HARTFORD — 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 from 40 percent to 90 percent to another 54 school systems, if the state budget impasse isn’t resolved by next month.
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 “Alliance Districts” designated as the state’s lowest-performing, including the state’s largest cities, would see no cuts to their aid.
Under the plan, overall Education Cost Sharing funding would be cut 28 percent in October. 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.
The governor’s plan immediately was criticized by some legislative leaders, the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, and the Connecticut Education Association, the teachers’ union, as being devastating and “draconian.”
Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano, of North Haven, said the order would “guarantee massive property tax increases” and “flies in the face” of Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher’s ruling last September that the state’s education funding system violates the state Constitution. The state Supreme Court is due to hear an appeal of that decision on Sept. 28
The governor has asked lawmakers to agree on a new spending plan that does not rely heavily on tax hikes to balance the books.
Senate Democratic Leader Martin Looney, of New Haven, and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, of Berlin, said Democrats in both chambers would 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.