CCM Publishes Second Report In Campaign Series, Issues In Funding Local Public Education
For Immediate Release
Kevin Maloney (203) 710-3486
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) today (Monday, October 1) released the second report of CCM’s “Election Campaign 2018” series — Issues in Funding Local Public Education in Connecticut — which concludes, among other key findings, that towns and cities now are forced to pick up nearly 53 percent of the $11 billion costs for local public schools, while state pays for significantly less -- about 42 percent; and the towns are also now stuck with nearly two-thirds of the costs of special education, which has emerged as an ever increasing cost burden on municipal and school budgets.
CCM’s “Election Campaign 2018” series is designed to educate and influence the candidates for Governor and the General Assembly on the key state-local issues affecting Connecticut local governments.
“State underfunding of local public education over time has shifted a huge unfair tax burden onto the backs of residential and business property taxpayers, noted Joel DeLong, CCM Executive Director. “The State must meet its funding obligations to Connecticut’s schoolchildren and school districts even in the face of budget challenges. To continue to transfer state budget problems to towns and cities and their property taxpayers is unfair, and it shortchanges Connecticut's future.
“Whether in ECS, special education reimbursements, categorical grants or school construction, it is critical that the State accept and meet its constitutional responsibility, identify the necessary revenues, and provide municipalities, school districts, and our more than 500,000 public school children with the resources they need in good times and bad to ensure the quality of our public schools, now and in the future.”
This new CCM report assesses, in detail, the major issues regarding the costs of local public education for towns and cities; as well as discusses the adequacy of state policies now in place ─ and those proposed ─ that are designed to provide adequate fiscal support for Connecticut municipalities and their local public school.
The cost for public education in our state is over $11.6 billion, and municipal property taxpayers:
- Fund 52.8 percent of that amount (almost $6.2 billion). The State contributes an estimated 41.5 percent and the federal government 5.2 percent
- Pay for 62 percent of Connecticut’s $2.1 billion in special-education costs,
- Pick-up the bill for numerous other state-mandated education priorities that are not fully funded by the State.
There are reasonable solutions that the State can and should enact to better support local public education for Connecticut 169 communities.
- Increase the ECS foundation level to reflect the real cost of adequately educating students tied to a statutorily identified cost index.
- Commit to fully funding the ECS grant.
- Eliminate the Minimum Budget requirement (MBR) mandate.
- Ideally, the State should assume responsibility for special-education delivery and funding. In lieu of that, it should at least decrease the Excess Cost grant threshold and fully fund the grant.
- Pay 100 percent of marginal costs for severe-needs students, statewide without equalization.
- Shift the burden of proof to the petitioner in special-education due process hearing.
- Make modest reforms to the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS).
Educatio on issues back to top
As the 2018 campaign season continues to heat up, CCM will continue to issue a range of public policy candidate bulletins highlighting key state-local issues for candidates to address in the thick of the election season. The bulletins are relied upon by incumbent lawmakers and challengers alike, municipal chief executives, and other state and federal leaders, and are designed to educate policy-makers on solutions to key state-local issues.
“The quality of Connecticut’s educated workforce is one of the key assets in attracting and retaining businesses,” said DeLong. “A first-rate education system – and education finance system – is vital for Connecticut’s prosperity and quality of life. “The education needs of Connecticut’s schoolchildren don’t disappear because of a bad economy. The choice is whether to provide adequate resources or to surrender the futures of today’s school-age children. Connecticut can and should do better.
Here are the other major issues CCM that CCM is analyzing and providing key information on in during the campaign to educate state legislators, state officials, federal office seekers, local leaders, and the general public:
- Unfunded State Mandates
- Public Pension Liabilities
- Property Tax Reform
- Build Vibrant Communities
In addition to these important issue reports, CCM will also undertake a series of other actions to get information out to the general public.
The responses to comprehensive questionnaires for (1) all candidates for Governor and (2) for all candidates for the General Assembly will be published by CCM online and in key CCM publications; provided to all Connecticut news media; and spread across the social media platforms of CCM and those of its member towns and cities.
A “2018 Election Campaign” page will be established on the CCM website — ccm-ct.org — consisting of contact information and other information regarding fall elections; and
Municipal chief executive officials will be provided with the questionnaire answers for the state legislative candidates for their region to highlight locally.