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City School Leaders Sweat Out State Budget Fiasco

September 27th, 2017 · 15 Comments · City Budget, Education, News and Events, State Politics

The state that funds most city school expenses has no budget. Meanwhile, school officials have operated on city-budgeted cash to stay afloat. But that dough runs out next week. What to do? Contact state budget chief Ben Barnes who had served as finance director of city schools before his appointment as director of the Office of Policy and Management in 2011.

Schools are precariously close to becoming a casualty of the state budget mess in Hartford. Governor Dan Malloy has been operating state finances through executives orders because state lawmakers and Malloy have failed to agree on a spending plan that should have started July 1.

A letter on Monday from city budget director Nestor Nkwo to Superintendent of Schools Aresta Johnson and Chief Financial Officer Marlene Siegel paints a sobering portrait of the inaction in Hartford.

“In its own FY 2017-2018 annual operating budget, the City of Bridgeport appropriated approximately $138,431,495 for the Board of Education expenses to be funded by the State–none of which has been received to date.

“In addition, the City appropriated approximately $63,500,000 of City general funds to the Board for FY 2017-2018. To date, the Board has expended approximately $48,700,000 from the City’s allocation.”

That leaves approximately $14,800,000 available from city funds, according to Nestor that “will be depleted on or about September 31, 2017. In the event that the State does not remit State funds for Board expenses, the City will not have funds to pay any additional Board expenditures.”

Nkwo advised them to contact the Governor’s Office.

That’s what Johnson did and Barnes notified her in an email “Please be assured that the state intends to send out 25 percent of the executive order education funding to municipalities early next week. While this will not resolve all the troubling issues raised by the letter, it should provide the city with ample cash to maintain ongoing support to the board both for now and ultimately through the year in the event that the state budget impasse continues.”

Democrats in Hartford with a fragile majority in the House and an 18-18 split with Republicans have failed to pass a budget. Last week a Republican-backed budget passed with a handful of Democrats supporting it. Malloy has pledged to veto the budget asserting it guts some essential programs.

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I will never vote for Ed Gomes or Marilyn Moore again. You guys are part of what is wrong with Bridgeport. Sucking up in Hartford!! Shame on both of you

  • Marshall Marcus

    “That leaves approximately $14,800,000 available from city funds, according to Nestor that “will be depleted on or about September 31, 2017.”

    Nestor by third grade you should know that September has only THIRTY days!

  • Frank Gyure

    Moukawsher State Supreme Court decision. None of this is a surprise.Joe Jerkim’s people have been screwing BPS students for two years. Got to pay back Chuck Paris.

  • Jeff Kohut

    This is the type of situation that can present as such a distraction to a state-dependent school system that will translate into greater and greater programmatic/systemic dysfunction and ultimately complete failure. Mr. Barnes’ assurances of funding are anything but… If money from the state hasn’t been forthcoming for the schools to this point — in the context of a stymied budget process — there is no reason no reason to expect an adequate flow of funds any time soon… It sounds like an emergency situation…

    It sounds like it is time for the cities to start mobilizing and showing a presence in Hartford in order to get this most inept GA/Executive branch in Connecticut history moving and making necessary decisions…

    Truly, between the simultaneous governmental train wrecks in

  • Jeff Kohut

    (Pardon the truncation… Complete version below…)

    This is the type of situation that can present as such a distraction to a state-dependent school system that will translate into greater and greater programmatic/systemic dysfunction and ultimately complete failure. Mr. Barnes’ assurances of funding are anything but… If money from the state hasn’t been forthcoming for the schools to this point — in the context of a stymied budget process — there is no reason no reason to expect an adequate flow of funds any time soon… It sounds like an emergency situation…

    It sounds like it is time for the cities to start mobilizing and showing a presence in Hartford in order to get this most inept GA/Executive branch in Connecticut history moving and making necessary decisions…

    Truly, between the simultaneous governmental train wrecks in Hartford and DC, there is legitimate cause for great alarm in cities such as Bridgeport. It would seem that the Mayor’s Office would want to mobilize public support toward creating mass self-advocacy for our city in Hartford… It would seem that it is time for a massive presence of voter-advocates in Hartford when the GA is in session for this budget process — the same type of presence that occurred when Weicker was pushing through the income tax… (Only this time there should be a larger, more strident presence consisting of citizens of Connecticut’s distressed urban centers led and organized by their City Halls and GA delegations… Perhaps this type of cooperative mobilization effort could be led by Mayor Ganim on behalf of his city and the urban voters that would elect him governor… Such an effort could only speak to his leadership as an indicator of his gubernatorial acumen…)And all of the would-be mayors in the GA delegation should also be out front on this…)

    • Joel Gonzalez

      “…in order to get this most inept GA/Executive branch in Connecticut history moving and making necessary decisions…”

      (Only this time there should be a larger, more strident presence consisting of citizens of Connecticut’s distressed urban centers led and organized by their City Halls and GA delegations…

      Jeff Kohut, why would anyone allow themselves to be organized and led by “this most inept GA/Executive branch in Connecticut history?” Milford and Branford Democrats on the GA joined Republicans to pass a budget that benefited their constituents or district. Where were the two Senators from Bridgeport? They could work out deals that benefits Monopolies and other regions of the state, but working with Republicans to get Bridgeport a much better deal in funding levels across the board including Education.

      “all of the would-be mayors in the GA delegation should also be out front on this…”
      Jeff Kohuts touches the cancer here. Who is this would-be mayor? If you are a would be mayor, would you work to help the mayor who you’re considering running against succeed? It has become clear to me that Senator Marilyn Moore and Ed Gomes are doing just that. SABOTAGE. Do nothing to help the mayor, BOE, State Representatives (some of them) BRING HOME THE BACON.

  • Jimfox

    So this is where the Rainy Day Fund kicks in!

    • Joel Gonzalez

      Not so fast Jimfox. Normally, the City of Bridgeport would get a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) from a banking institution when it runs short on cash to pay the bills. Why hasn’t the city considered applying for such a loan? The banks are sitting on shit loads of money and it’s about time they start contributing towards at least a temporary solution. Banks can do this free of interest and fees so the question of who (BOE or City) pays for the cost becomes a mute subject.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Joel,
        Return to one of the past two City Council meetings and review the MONEY votes. Finance had the City teed up for Tax Anticipation Notes, Bond Restructuring, Bonding for Capital Projects and Bonding for funding part of our long term unfunded public safety MERS obligation because of MERS overtime generosity!!
        Assuming the TANS was passed in the Council meeting after being approved by B&A probably on the consent calendar, you need to ask the question of how long does it take to get the $$$ after approval? Time will tell.

  • Jimfox

    Joel, Fluck (TANs). We should just have John Stafstrom underwrite the BoE with his past commission alone.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Joel: Your analysis of the Bridgeport GA inertia — in terms of their motivations for walking around and communicating/functioning (on a legislative level) with their communication and excretory apparatus inverted — is absolutely accurate. It was my intention to raise the questions about our leadership and representation that need to be answered… We are being allowed to swirl down the state/muncicipal toilet in order to fulfill the many political agendas of the 90% a-holes that sit in GA and City Hall seats around the state…. Bridgeport is “ground zero” in this regard… But I also write with the hollow hope that some of these a-holes will feel some shame and at least try to approach doing the right thing…

    And this state is the prime example of the Peter Principle — people (in positions of power and authority) — tend to rise to the highest level of their incompetence…

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