In new funding plan, Malloy takes money from wealthy towns

Although revisions to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s Executive Order Resource Allocation Plan, which is in place while the state is without a budget, shows Wilton receiving virtually nothing in state aid for fiscal year 2018, these numbers are not cast in stone. That is because the plan is not a budget, state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) told The Bulletin on Aug. 18, the same day the revisions were announced.

Data issued with a press release showed Wilton would receive only $145 in an adult education grant, and nothing from the Education Cost Sharing Grant or the Municipal Revenue Sharing Grant, previous sources of aid for the town.

The Special Education Excess Cost Sharing Grant will be retained at approximately fiscal year 2017 levels, a press release from the governor’s office said, but those numbers were not included in this announcement.

First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice responded to the governor's action by saying, "We continue to remain approximately $400,000 short under the Governor's newly announced plan because we anticipated some of these cuts when developing the budget. Not addressed in the Governor's plan is over $500,000 of budgeted FY2018 aid under the State's Local Capital Improvements and Town Road Aid programs.  Those programs are funded through State borrowings, which have not been authorized. We will have to wait for the Legislature to learn the fate of those two programs along with the reductions announced by the Governor today and previously.

"Each day that passes without a budget makes it more difficult for the Town to react to the eventual outcome," she told The Bulletin. "We all need the Legislature to generate some clarity."

The governor's revised plan prioritizes $1.46 billion in Education Cost Sharing grants to communities with highest student needs and greatest reliance on state funding, Malloy’s office said. It will provide funding equal to last fiscal year’s level to the 30 Alliance Districts. Fifty-four non-alliance towns that rely more heavily on state funding will receive a portion of their fiscal year 2017 ECS grant, and 85 municipalities considered to have a lower reliance on state funding, of which Wilton is one, will receive no ECS grant.

The reallocation of funds will allow less wealthy towns to receive needed state aid in a timely manner.

There has been talk the legislature may be called back to Hartford for a budget vote around mid-September, Lavielle said, but nothing has been scheduled. If a budget is adopted, these revisions would be moot, she said.

“The real threat to Wilton is what might happen in the actual budget,” Lavielle said, and not these revisions. The governor is still holding firm in passing along payments to the teachers pension plan to cities and towns. Were that to come to fruition, Wilton would be on the hook for nearly $4 million in fiscal year 2018.

To counteract this hit, Democratic legislators are discussing an increase in the state sales tax.