Ben Barnes, the governor’s budget chief, has told municipal leaders not to expect any cuts in state funding for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
“Despite very difficult budgets the governor has made it a priority to support and work with local government,” Gian-Carl Casa, a spokesman for the Office of Policy and Management, said Monday of Barnes’s recent comments to the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, an organization that consists of most of the state’s locally elected leaders.
As legislators reconvene in February to make adjustments to the budget adopted last spring, Barnes assured the local leaders that only tweaks would be made to the amount of funding headed their way.
“Barnes assured municipal leaders that they should feel comfortable planning their next budgets based upon their current levels of municipal aid,” CCM said Monday when releasing the organizations legislative priorities for next year.
The approved state budget for next fiscal year does provide towns with $41 million more to help local municipalities cover education expenses. Funding for charter schools is also slated to increase by $16 million next year and magnet schools by $6.9 million.
During Malloy’s time in office the Education Cost Sharing grant to municipal governments has increased by 2 percent.
Officials at CCM have long said the state is underfunding education, which they highlighted again in their report released Monday. Several of CCM members are plaintiffs in a lawsuit set for trial in July that claims the current level of state funding for education has the state failing its constitutional responsibility to provide students with a sufficient education.
The governor’s budget office reported to legislators last month in its Fiscal Accountability Report that given the deficit projected for the first budget after the next year’s gubernatorial election, it’s likely the governor and legislature will recommend no increases in state funding for education between fiscal 2015 to fiscal 2018.