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State Looks to Redistribute Rural And Suburban Tax Dollars

January 18, 2017 By Staff
State Looks to Redistribute Rural And Suburban Tax Dollars

Democratic leaders are considering punishing small towns that resist the drum beat of consolidation through “regionalization”

As Connecticut’s budget crisis continues, new taxes are the primary concern for many Connecticut voters.

Another crisis is in fact looming, though: Connecticut’s broken education funding system. A recent federal judge ruling, citing “inequality,” has ordered Connecticut to fundamentally overhaul its education system. As reported in the New York Times:

In a decision that could fundamentally reshape public education in Connecticut, the state was ordered on Wednesday to make changes in everything from how schools are financed to which students are eligible to graduate from high school to how teachers are paid and evaluated.

Now Gov. Dan Malloy (D-Conn.) is beginning to make his case for changes to local funding of education. Democratic leaders are considering punishing small towns that resist the drum beat of consolidation through “regionalization”:

Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have said the time has come to withhold state aid from small towns that refuse to become more efficient by regionalizing. They also want to give local leaders the ability to better manage their budgets, either by allowing them more ways to raise revenue locally or by scaling back restrictions on cutting education spending. State data show, however, that almost no districts or local officials are asking the State Department of Education for permission to cut school spending, and small districts don’t necessarily cost more to operate per student.

Clearly, change is coming. It’s important to note that Connecticut’s school boards cannot sue the state, as cities look to put pressure on small towns and suburban communities to reallocate their tax dollars. Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) has been the main agitator in seeking fundamental changes to Connecticut’s education system:

CCJEF, a broad coalition that includes teachers unions, is hoping to ride its 2016 legal victory into the new legislative session. In a sweeping September ruling, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher slammed the state’s education formula for municipalities, known as education cost-sharing, as politics-driven and gave the state a six-month deadline to submit plans to overhaul it.

Malloy made it clear in his State of the State address his plan to recalculate Connecticut school funding. He is also pushing for state leaders to scale back funding of new school construction projects. All this makes some local leaders wonder what that means for their quality of their schools.