Connecticut Town Leaders Rally Against Budget Cuts

As the state continues to run without a budget, the news for towns and cities is grim as hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line. 

On Wednesday, town leaders from Glastonbury, Ellington, Tolland and Newington gathered in South Windsor to rally against the cuts. 

"I assure you that we are united in our commitment to education and in our frustration and dismay over the governor's executive order," South Windsor Mayor Carolyn Mirek said. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy has been running the state through executive order since lawmakers failed to pass a budget nearly two months ago. Last week he proposed eliminating all education cost-sharing grants, known as ECS, from 85 school systems and significantly reducing it for 54 others. 

"It's devastating. It's the entire $12 million gone," said South Windsor Board of Education member Rick Stahr. 

Stahr said they thought they prepared for the worst but the numbers they're seeing from the governor are far more extreme. 

"Our worst-case scenario was $3, maybe $4 million, and that's where we were hoping to keep it, somewhere around that. But now we're looking at three times that," Stahr said. "What is the impact? I don't know, but it's going to be very deep." 

"Very frustrated when you see the millions of dollars not being provided to our town. It's just unbelievable," said Catherine Stahr, whose son will attend South Windsor High when school starts back up next week. 

She said the uncertainty is affecting students and staff. 

"At least if we know what we're dealing with, we can deal with it, but not knowing what the budget is going to be, the ECS funding is going to be, just leaves everybody in limbo," said Catherine Stahr. 

"The fact is we do not have a true education cost sharing formula that is fully funded or used the way it should be used here in Connecticut," said State Rep. Jeff Currey, (D-East Hartford, Manchester and South Windsor). 

Currey was one of the several lawmakers who attended Wednesday's rally and said the House Democrats’ latest budget proposal was done as a bipartisan effort. 

With Republicans expected to come out with a revised budget, the hope is that the end is in sight. 

"If we can put the two of them together, we will have a good budget," said Rep Sam Belsito (R-Ashford, Tolland and Willington). 

No vote is expected at the Capitol until the week of Sept. 11.

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