Republicans Continue to Push for Fair Education Funding

August 23, 2017

Harford – Deputy Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Kevin Witkos (R-Canton) released the following statement regarding the governor’s revised executive order released on Friday August 18 that would eliminate Education Cost Sharing funding for 85 school districts and reduce funding for another 54. The governor’s order includes cuts to Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury and Torrington.

“It is beyond devastating and enraging to see this plan from the governor. Under his executive order every single town I represent would lose significant funding. This includes eliminating all the education funding to Avon, Barkhamstead, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk and Simsbury and drastically cutting it to Torrington and Hartland. It would hit municipalities big and small, urban and rural. Almost $20 million would be cut from Torrington alone. On top of the pain, the order also appears to violate state law. The governor proposed to cut special education funding and withhold municipal funding that he does not have the authority to do without legislative approval.

“What’s so frustrating is that our state should have never gotten to this point. Legislative Republicans have proposed multiple budgets throughout the year that would have protected our towns, cities and schools. Senate Republicans also proposed a new education funding formula that took into consideration the recent court ruling that requires the state to adopt a real formula to fairly distribute money to schools. Our plan would have distributed funding to towns based on factors including need, poverty, wealth, population growth and decline, and number of English language learners. Unfortunately, all of these efforts were denied a vote in the legislature by Democrat legislative leaders who are the only ones able to call a vote during special session. Nevertheless, Republicans are continuing to push for our proposal to fairly fund education.

“While Democrats have rejected Republican budgets first released in April and updated multiple times, they have yet to offer a budget proposal themselves over the last five months that could be voted on. Instead of focusing on the budget, Democrat lawmakers focused on getting the governor’s labor deal approved to lock in benefits and wage increases. That labor deal has created chaos, as the governor’s executive order makes abundantly clear. Democrats voted to tie our state’s hands while they had no idea how to balance the budget once that deal passed. So today the upper echelon of state union employees have security, guaranteed raises and know what to expect for next year, but our students don’t, our teachers don’t, the parents of children with disabilities don’t, and property taxpayers don’t. It’s not right. Our children deserve better.”