HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel Malloy on Wednesday said education funding will remain untouched as the state grapples with its $3.7 billion budget deficit.
Flanked by mayors of Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, Malloy said he will continue to fund the educational cost sharing grant, which is money to cities and towns to “equalize” school funding. Currently, the ECS grant is $1.9 billion and is partly funded by a $271 million emergency federal stimulus grant that ends June 30.
“We will, in fact, honor our commitment to hold our communities harmless for the loss of ECS dollars,” Malloy said.”We will not ding the cities.”
To honor his campaign commitment, the governor will consider merging state agencies to eliminate redundancies to close the state’s budget deficit.
The ECS funding is critical to towns and cities, but especially urban areas–hence the reason why the three big-city mayors, John DeStefano of New Haven, Bill Finch of Bridgeport and Pedro Segarra of Hartford. That’s because more than half of the cities’ tax base comprise of nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, colleges, community-based organizations, museums, theaters and churches. The cities would also hurt the most if the ECS grant was reduced.
The grant allows cities such as Hartford to make up for that shortfall in revenue, Segarra said. ECS grant makes up 60 percent of Hartford’s budget.
So far, the governor’s announcement is welcome news, Segarra said.
“Any shortage would have to be made up from local taxes,” he said. “And that would be difficult to do with properties that are untaxed.”
DeStefano said the governor’s pledge is the right investment at the right time because ECS money is helping urban schools to close the drop out rate and the achievement gap.
ALL OF THEM TOGETHER