Today, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy did something that many other officials have seemed to refuse (Looking at you state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council) — he recognized the importance of Superior Court Judge Thomas Mouskawsher’s ruling in the CCJEF v. Rell case.
During the opening of the legislative session, Malloy used his state-of-the-state address to set the stage for reforming the state’s broken school funding system, one of the many recommendations from the ruling.
“Connecticut needs a new way to calculate educational aid – one that guarantees equal access to a quality education regardless of zip code,” said Malloy. “Our state constitution guarantees it, and our moral compass demands it.”
In his address he called for a new way to distribute education funding, promising that his 2017-2018 budget proposal will include “a more equitable system for providing town aid.” Malloy will be issuing his budget proposal on February 8
In case you’re interested, here’s an excerpt from this afternoon’s address:
“Of the $5.1 billion distributed to municipalities, 81 percent of that – or $4.1 billion – is educational funding. That doesn’t include school construction financing, which accounts for approximately one quarter of Connecticut’s bonded debt.
Now that I’ve put what we spend into context, let me say this – of course Connecticut should be spending lots of money on local education. We all believe that investments in education are a down payment on our state’s future. Our budget must reflect those values.
The question is, in a time of scarce state resources, are we spending this money in the best way possible? Are we ensuring that all students, regardless of the life circumstances into which they are born, regardless of what town or city they live in – can receive a quality public education?
I don’t believe we are meeting that standard. And I will point out that a recent court decision says that, as well.
It’s why I have long-advocated that we direct our support to those municipalities that are struggling the most — so that we can level the playing field for our students and our taxpayers.
While we have made progress on this front in recent years I still believe we have not gone far enough. Connecticut needs a new way to calculate educational aid – one that guarantees equal access to a quality education regardless of zip code.
Our state constitution guarantees it, and our moral compass demands it.
We need a formula that appropriately measures a given community’s burden. A formula that recognizes specific challenges faced by local property taxpayers. And a formula that takes into account the impact those challenges have on the education provided to our children.
The budget that I will present to you next month will outline a more equitable system for providing town aid. It will be based on the local property tax burden, student need, and current enrollment.
The system will be designed to be more fair, transparent, accountable, and adaptable – meaning that it will provide flexibility to fit the needs of a given community.”
To read Gov. Malloy’s full speech, here’s a link to NBC Connecticut’s Coverage