Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Winter 2018


In Lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

FUNDING PRIORITIES FOR P-12 AND HIGHER EDUCATION 2017 was marked by the longest budget crisis in Connecticut state history and the continuing CCJEF v. Rell education adequacy litigation. The General Assembly's failure to resolve the $3.5 billion biennial budget deficit by the end of the 2017 legislative session prompted Governor Malloy to issue emergency executive orders on July 1 to fund government operations.1 Meanwhile, the fate of state aid to school districts hung in the balance. The Governor's executive orders contemplated cuts to Education Cost Sharing funds to all but the 30 neediest school districts by October 1 unless the Connecticut General Assembly could reach a budget agreement during the September special legislative session. The specter of draconian cuts to school district budgets led some towns to delay school openings and others to lay off teachers or to forego filling positions while waiting for a budget resolution.2 In an effort to move the stalled budget negotiations forward, the Governor modified his previous proposal by restoring some of the ECS cuts to all but the twenty wealthiest towns. He also withdrew his initial plan to shift costs for local teachers' pensions entirely to the towns and instead called for school districts to fund current educators.3 In an unanticipated move, the Republican budget plan narrowly passed both chambers on September 15, 2017. The GOP plan contained no tax increases, included cuts to higher education and other state agencies while increasing ECS funds. It also called for a new ECS formula.4 Governor Malloy vetoed the budget deeming it unbalanced [End Page 239] and based on unrealistic cost savings. 5

After extended negotiations between both caucuses, the state's historic budget impasse ended on October 26 when the General Assembly passed the biennial $41.3 billion spending plan for government. The P-12 education budget included appropriations of $5.8 billion for the budget biennium ending in FY 2019, representing 24% of the overall state budget.6 Of the P-12 budget appropriations, equalization grants amounted to $1, 986,183,701 for FY 2018 and $2,017,131,405 for FY 2019 representing. Education Cost Sharing funds, the state's equalization grants, were cut by $30 million to all but the 30 lowest performing districts for FY 2018.7 The 30 Alliance districts will be funded based on 2017 levels.8 The remaining $30 million will be distributed among the remaining 139 towns. Higher education allocations totaled just over $1 billion, representing roughly 4% of the total state budget for the biennium ending in June 30, 2019.