The legislature’s budget-writing committee is recommending that the state spend $180 million more on municipal aid in the fiscal year that begins July 1, a 7.4% increase.
By comparison, Gov. Ned Lamont’s proposed budget released in February recommended flat-funding education and spending $50 million more on municipal aid, a 2% increase. That increase, however, would be a one-time infusion paid for by borrowing, as the governor did not recommend it continue into the second year of his two-year budget proposal.
Municipalities also are slated to get hundreds of millions in additional federal pandemic money next year.
In the Appropriations Committee budget proposal, New Haven is the biggest winner, with a $52 million increase in funding in the legislature’s proposal, more followed by Hartford with $25.5 million. Colchester, Tolland, and South Windsor are the biggest losers, but would lose only $300,000 each in municipal aid next year.
The biggest winners as a percentage change are Farmington, Fairfield and Greenwich.
Just over 80% of the $2.6 billion that the Appropriations Committee recommends sending to the state’s cities and towns next year are education grants.
At least $222 million in additional federal education funding is headed for municipalities next school year, as required as part of the federal funding packages passed in 2020. Another wave of $995 million in federal aid is also heading for school districts to spend over the next two school years, though the state Department of Education has not yet told districts how much of that allocation they can expect. The share each town will receive is based on a federal formula that takes into account the level of student poverty in various school districts.
In the state budget, the committee broke from their democratic governor’s proposal to stall the $117 million in scheduled increases in state aid for school districts through the Education Cost Sharing formula. That scheduled increase was reached between both parties back in 2017 while legislators waited for the Supreme Court to rule whether the state is meeting its constitutional obligation to adequately fund public schools.
The legislative Democrats’ proposal does break from the bipartisan agreement made back in 2017 by sending more money to districts with higher rates of English language learners and to those districts that have concentrated poverty among students attending their schools.