Today, State Senator Michael McLachlan (R-24) , Representative Will Duff (R-2), and Representative Stephen Harding (R-107) were joined at Danbury City Hall by chief elected officials from Danbury and Sherman, educators from Southwestern Connecticut, representatives from Danbury Hospital, and representatives form a number of local nonprofits. The group called for an override of the Governor’s veto of a state budget that passed with bipartisan support.
Sen. McLachlan said he was in Danbury to tell the public what will happen to local funding if the legislature does not override the veto. Cuts made by Governor Malloy’s executive order would continue. Local education cuts include:
• a loss of $6.7 million to Danbury
• a loss of $8.5 million to Bethel
• a loss of $4.6 million to New Fairfield
• a loss of $46,611 to Sherman, all the tow’s state education aid
“We’re trying to avoid teacher layoffs. We’re trying to avoid shutting down school systems, which is what Governor Malloy’s executive order is going to do,” Sen. McLachlan said. “We’re still reaching out to members of the Democratic legislative caucuses in the Senate and the House to convince them that this bipartisan budget is the way to go. Do they disagree with some of the points in that budget? I understand that. That’s the political process. There is no perfect budget in anyone’s mind. But we have to take what’s a good opportunity and what’s best on the table today and move forward with it. In future days, we can fine tune this over the next two-year biennium that this budget stands for.”
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said, “At the end of the day I think the Republican budget that was put out, which was vetoed by Governor Malloy, was, let me say this very clearly, a good budget for Danbury. My goal and my job and my responsibility is to look out for the taxpayers of this city. In the Republican budget, Danbury will see an increase of about $5 million in the first fiscal year and an increase of almost $8 million dollars in the second fiscal year for our students and staff. That’s a good thing. It certainly beats taking a $12 million cut and having to pay for the teachers’ retirement system.”
New Fairfield First Selectwoman Susan Chapman said the uncertainty caused by the budget impasse is hurting local communities.
“As the leader of a small town, we just had another Board of Finance meeting last night. All this budget uncertainty isn’t fair to our residents. It’s not fair to the taxpayers of the state of Connecticut,” Chapman said. “There’s a bipartisan budget on the table and. As we said, it’s not perfect but it is on the table and we should pass it. They should override the Governor’s veto so all the towns and cities will stop facing so much uncertainty. We’ve gone back and looked at our budgets and the things that would have to cut, the uncertainty for our staff. It’s just not a good way to manage our towns and our cities. We just really encourage the legislature to do the right thing and override the budget and help us towns get back to do the business of our towns.”
Rep. Duff said he is tired of hearing that the budget is a Republican budget.
“This was a bipartisan budget. Considering that the Republican Party is in the minority, there’s no way a Republican budget can get through. It has to have the support of a number of Democrats,” Rep. Duff said. The reality of these cuts that are happening – part of the demise of Connecticut’s economy during the past couple years has been the lack of a skilled workforce. The lack of an educated workforce and these cuts will further that problem. Our education system should not be a political football for gamesmanship. We need to train these kids; we need to educate these kids. Dragging out this process is being detrimental to their future.”
Rep. Harding said that while the bipartisan budget increases funding for education statewide, it does so without relying on substantial tax increases.
“I am proud to stand alongside Mayor Boughton, Senator McLachlan, and our community leaders and demand that our legislature override the governor’s veto,” Rep. Harding said. “We have approved a bipartisan budget, which relies on cuts to state government rather than tax increases to fully fund our local schools. It is imperative that we finally put this stalemate to an end and do what’s right for the people in our communities and this great state.”
A veto session of the General Assembly may happen next week.