December 30, 2016

State cutting education funding, freezing LoCIP money

HBJ file photo
HBJ file photo
The State Capitol in Hartford.

Hartford and communities statewide will lose $20 million in state funding for education, and experience a multi-million dollar freeze on capital improvement money in the second half of the fiscal year.

In two separate letters, state Office of Policy & Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes informed legislative leaders and municipal leaders that the cuts and freeze are necessary to help balance the fiscal 2017 budget.

The freeze, however, is expected to be temporary.

The administration will cut $20 million in educational cost-sharing and freeze $65 million for construction projects in the Local Capital Improvement Program (LoCIP).

In education, poorer cities stand to lose less than wealthier cities. So, Hartford will lose $250,000 or 1 percent while Greenwich will experience a reduction of $1.3 million or 90 percent, according to the accompanying chart.

The Connecticut associations of the Boards of Education (CABE) and Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) issued a statement Friday calling on state officials to restore the funding.

"While we are aware of the difficult budget situation for Connecticut right now, pulling the fiscal rug out from under 169 municipalities is no way to conduct business" said CAPSS Executive Director Joe Cirasuolo. "Stability is critical to superintendents and school boards to ensure that programs and services, long planned for, can be continued as planned."

In LoCIP, according to David LeVasseur, acting undersecretary of intergovernmental policy, the 2016 cap in total annual spending of $860 million had been reduced with cuts in 2004 and 2005 to $825 million today. However, with a simplified application process, the state program has been "inundated" with applications, so it now needs that missing $35 million, plus an expected $30 million in March, he said.

The freeze is expected to be temporary once the General Assembly addresses the situation by raising the cap, which is likely, he said.

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