Gov. Ned Lamont will unveil his two-year budget proposal for Connecticut today and it will include a broad income tax cut, erase medical debt for some taxpayers, increase tax credits, abide by the 2017 guardrails, but spend less on education than many lawmakers hoped.
Over the past few weeks Lamont has been holding press conferences touting parts of his budget, but today is the first time lawmakers and the public will get a peak at how it’s all balanced.
In an effort to set the tone for the debate, Lamont and lawmakers have agreed to extend the guardrails they put in place during the 2017 bipartisan budget negotiations as soon as this week. Those include the spending cap, revenue cap, volatility cap, and bond lock.
Lamont is expected to increase the amount of money that the state can have in its Rainy Day Fund from 15% to 18%.
There seems to be broad bipartisan support for keeping the budget guardrails in place, however, it sets up a disagreement over education funding.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers are looking to increase funding that local municipalities receive for schools.
Lawmakers are looking to speed up the increases to the Education Cost Sharing formula in time to offset the absence of federal funding when it expires in fiscal year 2025.
The change will result in an additional $275 million in state funding, according to the nonprofit group School + State Finance Project.
“My proposed budget will increase funding for ECS by $46 million next year and $91 million in fiscal year 2025, on top of new money for initiatives to help students struggling with absenteeism and disengagement and to recruit more teachers and paraprofessionals to the classroom,” Lamont said Friday. “I look forward to working with the legislature on further proposals to provide the highest quality education to our students.”
During the hearing on the proposal to increase education funding, Rep. Jeff Currey, an East Hartford Democrat who co-chairs the Education Committee, said that without additional funding, local officials would likely turn to policymakers in Hartford when federal grants run out in the next couple years.
“Unfortunately there seems to be the misunderstanding and misconception across the street that this money is there and it’s going to resolve all of this but this money is not there forever,” Currey said. “There is an end date on this and we have to be able to step in and take care of that once this money is gone.”
Lawmakers and the governor will have to work out their differences over the next few months as the General Assembly comes up with its own counter-proposal.