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Malloy calls for leaner government, school funding changes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday called for a new way to calculate state education aid to Connecticut cities and towns while also warning state lawmakers they're not finished making difficult budget-cutting decisions given the state's continued spate of projected budget deficits.


Appearing on opening day of the 2017 legislative session before a General Assembly that includes the most Republicans in recent memory, the Democrat said additional proposed spending cuts and further modernization of state agencies will be part of the two-year budget he'll unveil next month. In the meantime, his administration is meeting privately with state employee labor leaders on ways to reduce labor costs through another round of concessions.


"Like families across Connecticut, just because we responsibly managed our budget in recent years doesn't mean we can take a year off," Malloy said. "We must continue to live within our means, spending only as much revenue as we have, and no more."


The state's main spending account, the general fund, is predicted to have a $1.3 billion shortfall beginning July 1. The account is roughly $18 billion. A sizeable deficit also is projected in the second year of the two-year budget.


Malloy said his budget plan also will call for a "more equitable system for providing town aid," noting how Connecticut spends one-fifth of its state budget, $5.1 billion, on municipal assistance. It's the state's largest single expense.


Of the $5.1 billion, $4.1 billion includes local educational funding. That does not, however, include state spending on school construction financing, which accounts for about a quarter of the state's debt.


Malloy said his education funding formula, which would replace the complicated Educational Cost Sharing Grant, would be based on a community's local property tax burden, student need and current student enrollment.


"Connecticut needs a new way to calculate educational aid - one that guarantees equal access to a quality education regardless of ZIP code," he said.


Malloy said the formula needs to appropriately measure a community's burden. Last week, when his budget office issued mid-year education aid reductions, many wealthier communities received the biggest cuts.


Malloy's education funding proposal comes nearly three months after the Connecticut Supreme Court declared the state's education funding system unconstitutional and called for major reforms. State officials have appealed that ruling.

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Brian Kilmeade

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