‘A wink and a nod’ when sending money to towns for education

Top legislators rebuked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plans for $74 million that the state currently sends to cities and towns to makeup for lost property tax revenue from exempt, state-owned property.

Malloy’s proposal will still send that funding to cities and town, but by way of an education grant. However, municipalities would not need to spend that money on education.

Translation: education spending will not necessarily increase.

“There’s sort of a wink and nod,” said Sen. Toni Harp, the chairwoman of the legislature’s powerful budget-writing committee, told the governor’s education commissioner Thursday during a budget hearing.

Malloy said his intention behind the move is to “set priorities” in what the state funds, and education is one of those top priorities.

However, if approved, school leaders and municipal leaders say if would leave them scrambling for the same pot of money both feel was earmarked by the state to cover their expenses.

“It muddies the water and it’s really dangerous,” the Democrat from New Haven said.

Rep. Andy Fleischmann, the chairman of the Education Committee, also said he has some “concerns” and is not convinced the move is a good idea.