State aid: See how your town fares under Malloy’s latest budget

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Friday offered a much more restrained redistribution of state education aid dollars from better-off communities to impoverished ones. Instead of sending the 30 lowest-achieving districts an additional $300 million, as he proposed in May, his new plan would funnel them $11 million this fiscal year.

But this latest budget proposal also cuts overall state education aid by $113 million – instead of flat-funding education aid as his May budget plan would have done.

Add in the cuts to non-education aid and the new teacher pension contributions municipalities would make — and communities overall would lose $198 million in resources next fiscal year, a drop of about 8 percent. (See town-by-town totals below.) The proposal also would set aside $46 million in unassigned aid for “municipal restructuring” of struggling cities or towns.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin says he needs nearly $40 million in additional state aid this fiscal year to avoid insolvency. Malloy and legislative leaders have said all year they anticipate the new budget would provide the necessary funds to help Hartford.

Calling it a “compromise budget,” the Democratic governor said he hopes it will help end the budget stalemate. Now 70 days into the fiscal year without a budget, huge cuts in state aid for schools loom if no budget is adopted by October. The state Supreme Court also is scheduled to hear appeals in a landmark school-funding lawsuit later this month following a Superior Court judge’s ruling that the way the state distributed education aid is irrational and unconstitutional.

Malloy has riled many legislators this year by proposing major cuts in municipal aid for better-off towns. Now, he hopes to ameliorate those concerns by scaling back that redistribution.

Currently two-thirds of the $2 billion the state provides in its primary education grants to towns goes to the 30 lowest-performing districts. In May, Malloy proposed boosting that to 78 percent.

On Friday, he proposed sending 70 percent to those districts in this fiscal year, although that share results largely from cutting overall aid, holding the struggling districts harmless and cutting aid that other towns receive, as opposed to giving poor districts big increases.

In the next fiscal year, those struggling districts would get 71 percent of state education aid.

Here’s how the proposed changes break down:

  • Thirty-nine towns would receive no state education aid – a slight increase from the 31 communities that Malloy proposed in his May budget plan. Elimination of aid to those communities would save the state $26.6 million next fiscal year.
  • $99 million for another 92 towns would be cut.
  • $11.8 million would be sent to 21 mostly low-performing districts
  • 18 struggling districts would be flat-funded

Glastonbury schools would lose the most of any town — $6.5 million — followed by Newtown, Cheshire and West Hartford, which stand to lose just over $4 million each.

Waterbury would be the biggest winner with a $2.8 million increase in education aid, followed by Danbury, Stamford and New Britain, which would each get just over $1 million more.

Other municipal aid also is cut — largely in the form of the state’s contribution to teachers pension costs. See the bottom-line total for all aid for each town below.

About Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline won two first prizes from the national Education Writers Association for her work in 2012 – one in beat reporting for her overall education coverage, and the other in investigative reporting on a series of stories revealing questionable monetary and personnel actions taken by the Board of Regents for Higher Education. In 2016, she was a finalist in the EWA competition for single-topic coverage for her reporting on how schools are funded in Connecticut. Before coming to The Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. She has also worked for Congressional Quarterly and the Toledo Free Press. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College. She and her husband, son and two dogs live in Hartford.

About Keith M. Phaneuf

Keith, with Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, won first prize in investigative reporting from the Education Writers Association in 2012 for a series of stories on the Board of Regents for Higher Education. The former State Capitol bureau chief for The Journal Inquirer of Manchester, Keith has spent most of 24 years as a reporter specializing in state government finances, analyzing such topics as income tax equity, waste in government and the complex funding systems behind Connecticut's transportation and social services networks. A former contributing writer to The New York Times, Keith is a graduate of and a former journalism instructor at the University of Connecticut. E-mail him at kphaneuf@ctmirror.org.

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