Much of Fairfield County hit with zero education funding

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 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 have asked if the state removes all funding would towns be required to follow state mandates or would these mandates be eliminated or no longer be required?

The governor has promised he would not balance the state budget with tax increases, but that is precisely the effect 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 overregulation. 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 these are the very taxpayers who provide more than 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.

Toni Boucher, a Republican, represents Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton in the 26th District.