Dear WHEA members
If you have been watching the news, then you have heard about Governor Malloy’s proposed budget. For West Hartford in particular, and most towns in the state, his proposal is a nightmare scenario.
The state is undoubtedly in a fiscal crisis and a 1.6-Billion-dollar deficit is incredibly worrisome. But his solution to the problem severely threatens West Hartford teachers, students, and residents
To dodge its obligation to fund the Teacher Pension Account, Malloy is proposing to simply shift 30% of that financial burden onto the towns. This move alone should be enough to touch off revolts across the state. Where will towns get the money to pay for this new obligation? Not from the state apparently. If this goes through, the only way towns will be able to afford to do this is to raise taxes…either property taxes or some other kind of tax. In West Hartford, a property tax increase will simply drive people out of town.
To add insult to injury, Malloy has also changed the rules in the way that ECS money is distributed. ECS (Education Cost Sharing) money has typically been allocated to towns based upon an obscure and outdated formula that did not keep pace with demographic changes in towns. West Hartford, for example, was typically shorted by about 30 million dollars per year. People have been calling for a change in the ECS formula for years to better reflect need.
Governor Malloy has proposed changing the formula. There are not only new ways to calculate student need (number of students applying for Husky Insurance as opposed to number of students on free and reduced lunch), but there are other changes as well. The new formula will apparently reflect yearly enrollment changes for example. And special ed expenses will have a separate fund and distribution to towns. But the biggest and most damaging change from a West Hartford perspective is that the new formula has a new way of calculating a town’s “ability to pay”. This new “wealth factor” delivers a stunning blow to West Hartford. Towns like West Hartford that have managed their finances responsibly and have taxable businesses in town will take the hardest hit. Those cities with a lot of poverty, who do not have taxable property (Grand List is the term used for the sum of taxable property in a town), and who have not been particularly good financial stewards will gain the most from Malloy’s new plan.
Here is a link that shows the actual dollar amounts that each town in the state stands to gain or lose. The list actually understates the amount that West Hartford could lose.
The good news is…this is only a proposal…..it is the beginning of a negotiation between Malloy and the legislature. It is hard to imagine that this proposal could pass given that most towns are hurt and a handful are helped. But it is a starting bid and it is so extreme that we can only hope that the legislature counters with a proposal that is at the opposite end of the spectrum so that they can meet somewhere in the middle and so that certain towns are not crippled with unexpected debt.
Once again, we need to make phone calls, send emails, and write letters. You really do help your legislators to make their case by contacting them. In West Hartford, Beth Bye, Andy Fleischmann, Joe Verrengia, and Derek Slap want to be able to speak publicly about the hundreds or thousands of messages they have received. No matter where you live in CT, please find out who each of your state reps are and contact each one of them.
Here is a link that can help you do that: Scroll down to Find Your Legislator
We really can’t wait on this. Please do this as soon as you possibly can. West Hartford stands to lose well over 7 million dollars next year. The figure could be as high as 14 million. This is serious.