Governor’s proposal would hold the line on education spending

As the state looks for ways to cut costs in a slumping economy, Gov. M. Jodi Rell proposed Wednesday to hold the line on major education programs.

In her mid-term budget adjustments, the governor recommended no reductions in municipal aid for schools, preschool programs and college financial aid.

The state’s Education Cost Sharing grant, the largest grant to municipalities, will remain at just under $1.9 billion, a figure that school officials have said will mean growing strains on local budgets, including further layoffs, as costs continue to rise.

The state has been able to hold that figure steady because of an infusion of federal stimulus funds, accounting for about 14 percent of the grant.

Rell also proposed a student loan forgiveness program designed to keep college graduates working in Connecticut in specific fields such as life sciences, environmental technology and health related information technology.

Under that program, the state would forgive a portion of loans for students with bachelor’s degrees who work in selected jobs in the state for two to five years or more. The state would forgive as much as $2,500 a year with an overall maximum of $10,000.  A similar program is planned for students with associate degrees.

The governor also is  proposing a 10 percent reduction, or $4.8 million, in state support for busing public school students.