State budget cuts might not be as severe as feared

A state budget adopted by the senate early Thursday morning, Oct. 26, would spare Wilton the deep cuts that had been threatened during budget battles between the governor and legislature since February.

This new budget, a $41.3-billion two-year plan yet to be passed by the House, which is meeting today, passed 33-3 in the senate. It has also been passed overwhelmingly by the House.

All Wilton’s representatives — Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26), Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) and Rep. Tom O'Dea (R-125) — voted in favor.

This proposal would reduce Wilton’s overall municipal state aid from $1,477,817 in fiscal year 2017 to $1,403,927 in fiscal year 2018, according to statistics provided by the Connecticut Mirror. That is a drop of $73,890 or 5%.

State aid would be further reduced to $1,354,725 in fiscal year 2019, a decrease of $123,092 from fiscal year 2017.

Part of that decline comes in the form of the Education Cost Sharing Grant, which would decline 5% for Wilton from $462,941 in fiscal year 2017 to $439,794 in fiscal year 2018. It would rise again in fiscal year 2019 to $463,349.

The proposed budget also does not require towns and cities to pay into the state teachers pension fund.

Under grants for municipal projects, Wilton would see no change, receiving $307,058 in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, the same as it received in fiscal year 2017.

Town road aid would also see no change at $316,218 in each of those fiscal years.

“I was incredibly torn about voting for this budget after Republicans’ earlier legislative victory,” Boucher said in a press release. “I could have walked away and said ‘no’ to compromise. Connecticut is at a critical juncture and walking away would have assured the financial ruin of our state. To allow 88 communities to be stripped of their education funding and the inevitable massive increase in property taxes would have been an unconscionable dereliction of duty. It also would have meant not getting some of the important structural changes that are included in this compromise.

“A major concession to Republicans in this budget was finally instituting a spending cap that 82% of the public voted for after the 1991 income tax was enacted. The budget includes a bonding cap and a requirement for a legislative vote on all future union contracts. It replenishes the Special Transportation Fund without enacting tolls. It eliminates the income tax on Social Security and private pensions for middle-income retirees, and brings the inheritance tax in line with federal levels. Also, it provides major municipal mandate relief we have sought for many years. These are huge accomplishments and we have next session to keep working on further changes to the budget document that passed today. Of this I am certain."