Governor Dannel Malloy said his new plan will cover a predicted $2.3 billion deficit in the fiscal year beginning July 1. That’s a $600 million increase from an earlier projection. The governor has said he does not want to increase taxes, so cuts will have to be made.
His proposal includes cuts to funding for all public higher education institutions in the state. Community colleges would be hit the hardest with a $10.5 million reduction. That’s on top of an $8.5 million cut to fringe benefits like health insurance that the state pays for.
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities President Mark Ojakian said this could mean drastic cuts within the system because he is not going to make up the difference by raising tuition.
“The community colleges are already operating on very thin margins and they have very little reserves,” said Ojakian.
He said, “This would bring us in a different direction in terms of what impacts will this have on student programs and student services. You know, no answer is going to be good.”
Ojakian said he is paying close attention to the budget proposals coming out of the capitol and preparing scenarios for potential budget cuts.
Meanwhile, towns and cities across the state are doing the same. The governor’s revised proposal includes deeper cuts to some school districts already expecting a big decrease in funding.
Since his state of the state address, Governor Malloy has said the state has to restructure how it distributes educational aid. That plan involves less funding for wealthier districts to help those districts struggling the most.
Well-off towns around Connecticut stand to lose millions of dollars in state aid. Some districts would receive no funding at all.
Joseph Cirasuolo, President of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, said this will affect each town differently and they will all have to make difficult decisions.
He said it could mean cuts to extra-curricular activities, cuts to support services for struggling students, or postponing maintenance projects within districts.
“Whatever comes out, districts and municipalities are not going to get the money they need to continue all of the things they're doing. Forget about doing a lot that’s new. That’s going to be really off the table,” said Cirasuolo.
He said, “If there's any major reduction in state aid for education, the educational program being offered to Connecticut’s children in September 2017 will be less than what was offered last September. There's no way to avoid that.”