Gov. Dannel Malloy is holding back funds to state agencies and municipalities to cover an estimated $881.6 million gap built into the newly passed, two-year $41.3 billion budget.
The Democrat's fiscal office announced Friday that the bulk of the $881.6 million — $700 million — will come from expected savings from the state employee labor concession agreement.
Malloy's plan reduces state operational costs by $25 million, program costs by $55 million, and state aid to cities and towns by $91 million.
The cuts to states and towns range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.
As an example, Bridgewater will have more than $2,000 withheld. Enfield will have $2.3 million withheld. West Hartford will get $2.2 million less.
Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the governor's decision to "put a quick target on our towns and public schools is misguided." He added that "A significant part of the current estimated shortfall is based on lower federal funding, which [the governor's] own budget office failed to project. Funding our schools is a clear legislative priority in the bipartisan budget just passed, so going after that particular funding raises serious questions and will no doubt bring strong pushback from all corners of the state."
Senate Democratic leader Martin Looney released a statement saying that "while lapses were inevitable, it is a source of grave concern that the administration chose to carry out the cuts in this manner."
Senate Republican leader Len Fasano said in response to the holdbacks that "the governor is blatantly ignoring the will of the legislature and doing what he wanted to do all along. He is going out of his way to dismiss certain savings and instead dramatically reduce funding to municipalities, turning a blind eye to the careful efforts of lawmakers to protect towns and cities as much as possible."
Malloy's budget secretary Ben Barnes says "adjustments" are needed now to achieve savings and these cuts let municipalities and agencies know how much funding to expect for the rest of the fiscal year.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities spokesperson Kevin Maloney said that the sudden changes to funding for cities and towns actually creates uncertainty.
"I don't think towns are going to express any other view other than being startled, upset, wondering what they can believe going forward," said Maloney. "Do we have the expectation this is going to happen again? Are towns going to be confronted in December, January with another situation?"
CCM says the cuts are going to have a significant impact.
"When there are cutbacks, it affects the quality of education. It affects the quality of police and fire services. It affects the quality of public works services. It affects building maintenance, repairing roads," said Maloney.
But more changes may need to be made to the state budget. Barnes said that, "Monday's consensus revenue forecast suggested that the Governor may need to exercise his statutory rescission authority or the General Assembly may need to take further actions to balance the budget in the months ahead."