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Lavielle: Budget vacuum and serial executive orders create uncertainty for towns

Gail Lavielle

NORWALK, Conn. – This is a press release received Friday, presented in the format in which it was sent:

 

HARTFORD – State Representative Gail Lavielle (R-143) expressed concern for municipalities and school districts as more municipal funding cuts were announced by the governor via executive order and majority Democrats indicated they were aiming to vote in mid-September on a budget that would include an “inevitable” sales tax hike.

In the absence of a state budget, Governor Dannel Malloy has been running the state since July 1 by executive order, according to a Resource Allocation Plan that he issued nearly two months ago. Today he released a revised version of the plan that redistributes education funding to the lowest-performing school districts by either significantly reducing or entirely eliminating funding from more than 130 other districts. Rep. Lavielle remarked on the ongoing confusion created by the budget crisis and its effect on the three towns in the House district she represents.

“While the revised executive order clarifies the governor’s view of municipal and school district funding, it’s important to remember that it is not a budget,” said Rep. Lavielle. “It will cease to have any effect if and when a budget is passed. Although majority legislators have said they want to hold a budget vote in mid-September, they have still not released a budget they are willing to vote on, and apart from statements they have made about increasing the sales tax, we know nothing about what will be included in the budget they produce. So while the new executive order is likely an indicator of the governor’s positions in budget negotiations, municipal and school district officials would do well to be cautious about drawing too many conclusions before a full budget is passed. In short, the climate of uncertainty persists.”

Changes in the New Executive Order Specific to Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton

Norwalk received $11.2 million in Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funds in 2017. The original executive order would have reduced this amount by $4.4 million. The new executive order restores it to the 2017 figure. This removes substantial pressure from the Board of Education, at least for the moment, and may indicate that ECS cuts to the district will not be forthcoming. Norwalk’s priority district funding may, however, still be an issue. The first executive order also reduced Norwalk’s 2017 municipal aid by $5.2 million, and the new order would further reduce it by another $500,000.

Westport’s ECS funding is completely eliminated in both executive orders. The original order had also eliminated most of the town’s approximately $1.3 million in municipal aid, reducing it to $377,000. That amount would in turn be eliminated by the new executive order.

Wilton’s ECS funding is also entirely eliminated in both executive orders. The original order had reduced the town’s municipal aid from the 2017 figure of $854,000 to $547,000, and the new order would in turn eliminate that amount entirely.

Although no date has been set majority legislative leadership has indicated a preference to vote on a budget during the week of September 11. No budget document has yet been circulated, but majority leaders have strongly suggested that a sales tax hike would likely be one of their primary tools for closing the approximately $3.7 billion deficit that remains for the next two years following last month’s approval of an agreement with the state employee unions. At the same time, Governor Malloy is still supporting his proposal to shift to municipalities the responsibility for one-third of the cost of the state’s annual contributions to the teachers’ pension fund.

Rep. Lavielle and fellow House Republicans have been on record since January stating their adamant opposition to any kind of tax increase for Connecticut residents. She and her colleagues have also continued to stand firmly against the governor’s proposal to shift responsibility for the teachers’ pension contributions to the towns, because it would lead to dramatic property tax increases.

“By waiting until at least mid-September to vote on a budget, our state legislature is about to make history, and not in a good way,” said Rep. Lavielle. “Every day that passes without a budget, the uncertainty for towns and school districts increases, and their ability to make informed local budget decisions diminishes.

“Furthermore, the majority party’s repeated assertion that tax increases and draconian service cuts are our only options as a state is simply not true,” added Rep. Lavielle. “None of this chaos with the budget vacuum and serial executive orders had to happen. Starting in April, legislative Republicans presented multiple detailed versions of a no-tax increase budget that maintained current levels of municipal aid and education funding by scaling back the costs of the state bureaucracy through reasonable reforms. Yet majority leadership refused even to discuss these ideas on the House floor, let alone call our proposal for a vote. If, as seems almost certain, yet another tax increase comes to pass, it’s important to realize that it could have been avoided if all legislators had done their job of advocating for the interests of all Connecticut taxpayers.”

State Rep. Gail Lavielle represents the 143rd district, which includes parts of Norwalk, Westport, and Wilton. She is Ranking Member of the General Assembly’s Education Committee, and a member of the Finance, Revenue, and Bonding Committee and the Transportation Committee.

 

 

This press release was posted as a public service. A press release is a written announcement submitted to news organizations to publicize an event or activity, a milestone or a point of view. NancyOnNorwalk has not researched the assertions made and takes no responsibility for the content.

One comment

Donald August 22, 2017 at 2:19 am

Has Rep. Lavielle ever accomplished a thing? It seems all she does is complain. She never not even once fixed an issue.

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