State Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) has made her opposition known to the state legislature that she is against the creation of school taxing districts.
On Friday, March 15, Lavielle testified in front of the legislature’s Planning & Development Committee against House Bill 7319, An Act Concerning The Fiscal Independence Of School Districts.
The bill would require local and regional school districts with fewer than 15,000 students to become taxing authorities, separate from any municipality.
“This legislation would require the creation of new layers of administration that would increase local property taxes and raise costs, at a time when budgets at all levels of government are very fragile,” Lavielle told the committee.
For Wilton, it means the town could no longer assess or collect taxes for the purpose of providing educational services. The school taxing district would have its own assessors and collectors and the Board of Finance would no longer be able to give budget guidelines to the Board of Education.
Lavielle noted there was no mention in the bill of any potential favorable impact on the quality of education, nor mention of any problem it was intended to solve.
“It is also ironic that this bill, which reduces the ability of residents and municipalities to influence the finances of their school districts, is being introduced at the same time as Governor’s Bill HB7150 that would make municipalities responsible for paying a portion of the state’s annual contribution to the teachers’ pension plan. Already, towns have no role in developing or negotiating the terms of this plan, and under HB 7319, they would lose even the ability they currently have to provide input into salary negotiations,” she said.
She concluded her testimony saying, “There seems to be no reason for this legislation. I respectfully urge the Committee to reject it.”