Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

EAST HARTFORD, CT — “One hot mess.” That was the phrase Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used Wednesday to describe the way the Republican budget would distribute state education funds to Connecticut’s cities and towns.

During a 20-minute press conference at East Hartford Middle School, the governor said he believes they should direct support to municipalities that are struggling the most, “so we can level the playing field for our students and taxpayers.”

The Republican proposal “shifts critical aid away from those who need it the most,” Malloy said. “And directs it to those school systems that are in a far better position to handle their challenges.”

He said he doesn’t understand how they justify increasing education funding to Salisbury, “one of the richest communities in the entire state, by 28 percent.” He said Salisbury would get more money at the same time another major city that “represents a significant portion of our children in need” is losing $5.2 million.

Malloy said education funding should be a priority in any budget proposal.

“We have nothing to sell in Connecticut if we don’t educate our children well,” Malloy said.

Malloy’s comments were just the latest in his criticism of the Republican budget proposal. On Tuesday, he sent Republican legislative leaders a letter criticizing their changes to the state employee pension system.

Earlier Wednesday, Senate President Martin Looney and the New Haven delegation were at Gateway Community College criticizing the Republican budget cuts to higher education.

A few hours after Malloy’s press conference, Republican legislative leaders gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to call upon Malloy to sign the budget.

“We’ve got a bipartisan budget that passed both chambers,” Senate Republican President Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said. “Sign it. Period.”

The budget passed the Senate 21-15 with three Democratic legislators voting in favor and 77-73 in the House with five Democratic legislators voting in favor. That comes to 98 Republicans and eight Democrats.

Fasano said they are meeting with the governor on Friday, but have never closed the door to discussions throughout.

He said if the Democrats have problems with the budget then they can talk about amending it, “but let’s get a budget signed and let’s get our towns moving forward.”

He said he understands Democratic legislative leaders and Malloy don’t like that they don’t have a budget they can pass.

“It’s not jawboning,” Fasano said. “The budget is ready. It can be signed.”

Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Senate Republican President Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said “if Oct. 1 comes and the governor has not signed the only budget that has been voted affirmatively out of the House and the Senate with Democrat and Republican votes, if he does not sign that, there will be over $600 million in ECS cuts to our towns and cities.”

Fasano added that not signing will begin to cause real harm to cities and towns.

As of Wednesday it had been five days since lawmakers sent the Republican budget to Malloy’s desk. Malloy has promised to veto it once it finally arrives.

Malloy has been running the state by executive order since July and will continue to manage the state’s spending until there is a budget.

Lawmakers and Malloy have said repeatedly that the goal is to have a budget in place by Oct. 1 when the first part of education aid is expected to be distributed to communities.

“I think it’s an important date which we are highly unlikely to hit,” Malloy admitted Wednesday, adding that Oct.1 is still a goal but he assumes they will likely go beyond that date.

Malloy said the Republicans voted for a budget for the first time in 10 years and it’s his responsibility to examine it and offer his feedback.

“On Oct. 1 let’s see which towns he sends money to and which towns he doesn’t send money to,” Fasano said.

Under a revised proposal on Oct. 1, Malloy wouldn’t pay state education grants to 85 communities. Another 54 would see a reduction and the funding for 30 would stay the same. Malloy could make changes to that proposal in the next few weeks.

Gov. Dannel Malloy says GOP budget “reduces – and in some cases completely eliminates – funding streams for the state’s highest need and lowest performing school districts.”

Posted by on Wednesday, September 20, 2017