Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposed 2017-18 budget is cutting municipal aid from 145 towns across the state and slashing $7,237,570 from Monroe, designating only $138,805 for the town.
While Monroe is faced with losing $7.2 million in state funding, it was not hit as hard as Groton, which saw a $14.1-million decrease.
However, a few communities will receive increased funding if the budget is approved. Malloy designated $38.1 million in state aid for Hartford, $40.8 million for Waterbury, $24.2 million for New Britain, $14.2 million for Bridgeport, and $13.1 million for New Haven.
The state has a two-year — or biennial — budget, and on Feb. 8 Malloy put forward a $40.6-billion budget proposal for 2017-18 and 2018-19.
The $18-billion budget for next year, 2017-18, proposes about $1.4 billion in spending cuts, along with about $320 million in new revenues, to help close a $1.7-billion budget gap.
Among the $1.4 billion in spending cuts is $408 million to be gained by transferring to municipalities a third of the state cost for the pension plan that serves all public school teachers in Connecticut.
Pushing the teachers’ pension costs on municipalities like Monroe would cost the town an additional $3,017,406, if passed.
Among the cuts in the governor’s plan is $700 million in yet-to-be negotiated concessions from 15 unions — backed by the threat of laying off some 4,200 state employees, about a 10th of the state workforce, if a package of concessions can’t be reached. The planned labor savings would rise to $860 million in the second year of the biennial budget.
The revenue increase in the governor’s budget plan also includes proposals to raise tobacco taxes, start taxing hospitals’ real estate, and eliminate taxpayers’ ability to claim a tax credit for local property taxes when they pay state income taxes.
Representatives at the local level expressed their dismay with Malloy’s proposed budget.
“Once again Gov. Malloy is looking to balance his budget from the backs of the hard-working middle-class families of Connecticut, which now includes the backs of our children, with a $572-million bill on our children’s credit card as a result of his pension deal,” said state Sen. Kevin Kelly. “The budget relies on $700 million in unrealistic labor savings and includes $632 million in tax increases for the middle class, most notably the elimination of our property tax credit — which will impact more than 874,000 families.”
Town Council member Nick Kapoor called Malloy’s cuts “ridiculous” and said he hopes the cuts will be overturned.
“We will continue to have the Governor’s proposed municipal aid cuts looming over us as we discuss Monroe’s budget however I believe that the State Legislature will revise the budget and our state elected officials will advocate for Monroe’s share of education and grant funding and reverse some of the Governor’s ridiculous cuts,” Kapoor said.
Most of the budget cuts impacting Monroe are associated with education spending. Malloy’s budget also cuts the town’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant, chopping $5,303,815 from the previous year’s budget.
“You can’t keep shifting state problems to the towns,” Vavrek said.
However, the proposed budget seeks to give Monroe an additional $1.5-million special education grant. The governor’s budget also restored $246,601 in Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP) funding and provided an additional $177,646 in municipal revenue sharing funds. Malloy’s budget did not include any grants for municipal projects, so the town will see a $176,106 decrease.
“This is going to hurt,” First Selectman Steve Vavrek said. “This budget will be tough, but we need to work together.”
The governor announced his proposed budget the same day Vavrek proposed his $86.4-million budget to the Town Council.