Weekend Update: Governor Proposes Education Funding Cuts and Statement on Metro-North Train Derailment

April 15, 2016

Governor Proposes Zeroing Education Funding to Much of Fairfield County

The Governor’s alarming budget proposal cuts $68.9 million in funding for our K-12 students. These cuts unfairly and disproportionately affect suburban school districts in Fairfield County, whose towns already only receive back 1 to 2 cents for every dollar they send to the state. The cuts in state education funding to our district’s schools have been dramatic and draconian:

Bethel education funding cut by $383,843
New Canaan education funding cut by $1,495,604 to $0
Redding education funding cut by $687,733 to $0
Ridgefield education funding cut by $2,063,814 to $0
Weston education funding cut by $948,564 to $0
Westport education funding cut by $1,988,255 to $0
Wilton education funding cut by $1,557,195 to $0

Education funding is a core function of state government and a responsibility that the state should strive to maintain as best it can. Instead, the Governor has decided to shirk that responsibility. Worse still, these cuts have been proposed after many towns have already gone through their budget process and set their mill rates. For those towns there is no legal way for them to go back and revise their budgets. Some towns have asked if the state removes all funding would towns be required to follow state mandates or would these mandated be eliminated or no longer be required?

The Governor has promised that he would not balance the state budget with tax increases, but that is precisely the effect that these cuts would have. Towns deprived of state education funding will have little choice but to raise property taxes in order to cover education costs. This would hurt both businesses and residents struggling under the administration’s already high taxes and over regulation. It will hurt students who may face larger class sizes and program cuts.

These cuts to education spending will exacerbate the downward spiral of our state’s finances that has already driven GE and others away, and will drive out businesses and the jobs and tax revenue they produce. Don’t they realize that these are the very taxpayers that provide over 47% of all of the state tax revenues and that budget proposals only serve to push them out of state?

We cannot allow the proposed budget, which does little more than shift the tax burden to the state onto the targeted towns, to be implemented.

Is this a serious proposal, a politically partisan proposal, or a scare tactic? Whatever the reason it is patently unfair. Please join me in fighting these cuts and restoring funding for our students. I urge you to call the Governor (860-566-4840) and to tell him not to balance the budget on the backs of our children.

Statement on Metro-North Train Derailment April 14 2016:

A Metro-North Train derailed in New Canaan on Thursday morning. Fortunately, no passengers were aboard, and no staff suffered injuries, yet the incident is still a worrisome echo of the problems which have plagued Metro North over the past few years and which the railroad has been working hard to overcome with new leadership, training and safety procedures.

Although progress has been made with regard to safety and the DOT did the right thing by classifying a minor nonlife threatening incident as a derailment, any occurrence of this kind should be taken very seriously and full disclosure of the investigations results provided.

Of particular concern is that if the New Canaan Line, which is relatively up-to-date, should have suffered a derailment, what about the other branch lines operating on older technology? Although nobody was hurt, commuters still encountered delays while Metro-North worked to restore service.

As the Ranking Member of the Transportation Committee, I will continue to monitor this situation closely to ensure that Metro-North is taking the necessary precautions to prevent it from occurring in the future.