Whew! Dannel Spares Ed Grants–What About Other Funding?

The last thing Mayor Bill Finch wants in an election year is state funding cuts. Governor Dannel Malloy told city mayors he won’t mess with the Education Cost Sharing formula. But what about other city programs funded by the state? We’ll see. From The CT Mirror:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried Wednesday to erase any doubt he may have created about sparing municipal education grants from the budget axe when he met with the mayors of Connecticut’s three largest cities–but he declined to talk about other local aid programs.

Accompanied by Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Bill Finch of Bridgeport and John DeStefano of New Haven, Malloy said the budget proposal he will deliver to the legislature next week will include a $1.9 billion Education Cost Sharing program for 2011-12–the same funding level provided this fiscal year.

“Let me be very clear: Next week’s budget will include full funding of ECS,” the governor said during a late afternoon press conference outside his Capitol office. “Nobody should be shocked by that.”

Malloy, who inherited a projected $3.7 billion deficit on Jan. 5, pleasantly surprised municipal leaders across Connecticut during the fall campaign when he pledged ECS would be spared from cuts, even though it faces a major funding crisis of its own next year.

That’s because the program is partially supported this year by $271 million in emergency federal stimulus, aid that expires on June 30. So when the new fiscal year begins on July 1, Malloy is promising not only to preserve a program that represents 1/10th of the entire, $19.01 billion state budget, but also to find a way to replace the expiring federal aid.

“It was always my intention to hold communities harmless,” said Malloy, who was mayor of Stamford from 1996 through 2009.

But his intentions appeared less clear shortly after being sworn into office when he began referring to full funding as a “goal” he would “try to accommodate.”

The single-largest municipal grant program, ECS distributes funds based on a complicated formula that analyzes a community’s wealth, student enrollments, and numbers of children from families on federal assistance.

Connecticut’s urban centers have been the largest recipients of ECS dollars since the program was launched two-and-a-half decades ago, and big city mayors, all Democrats, greeted the Democratic governor’s pledge warmly on Wednesday.

“This is very well-received news,” Segarra said, noting his community faces a $10 million deficit this year and a projected $40 million shortfall in 2011-12.

“It’s good to have people mean what they say,” said DeStefano, who defeated Malloy in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary before losing the general election to Gov. M. Jodi Rell.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch added that the cities already are facing cutbacks, even with the prospect of sustained ECS funding. “We’re laying people off where we have to,” he said. “We’re working smarter with less resources.”

Though Malloy and many municipal leaders long have insisted that Connecticut’s overall tax structure places too much emphasis on local property taxes, the state’s chief municipal lobby said Wednesday that an ECS cut would have sparked a nightmarish surge of tax hikes and layoffs at the local level.

“It would have had a devastating impact on their ability to provide public education as they do now,” James Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said afterward.

Malloy declined to answer when asked whether he would consider reductions to non-education municipal grants, which total roughly $1 billion in the current budget.

Municipal leaders typically refer to this as the “shell game,” sparing a well-known grant such as ECS from a budget cut while reducing lower-profile grants outside of the education arena. According to CCM, non-education aid has been reduced close to $100 million in total over the past two fiscal years.

The new governor said he remains open to exploring new revenue-raising options for cities and towns, which currently generate almost all of their local dollars through the property tax.

And though Malloy never mentioned wage- or benefit-concessions by name, he appealed to municipal teachers’ unions to do “everything in their power to ensure there aren’t any layoffs.”



  1. This BOE will just squander the resources anyway, spending money on things like a new building for maintenance workers and lifelong medical benefits for a failed administrator while the best interests of the kids remain a secondary concern. Just as Finch and his administration need to go, so does the majority of the BOE.

  2. As good as Gomes may be, his experience would be suited to CAO. MJ has the business acumen to attract developers and the political contacts in Hartford that would benefit Bridgeport. CAO is the behind-the-scenes Mayor and the health of the workings of the City depend on it. Gomes has that familiarity and experience to hit the ground running when he gets there. If MJ were to win a primary, even Stafstrom and Mario would most likely publicly work hard for her; Gomes, maybe not as much. I also think Stafstrom and Mario may only be showing half-hearted support of Finch. Mario has a long memory and he hasn’t forgotten that Finch supported Stafstrom over him for town chair. Just one of Finch’s first bad moves, he should have stayed out of it. It showed he had no political capital and it hasn’t gotten any better since then. Finch continued to alienate his supporters one by one. People can say they support you, but you never know what they will do on a ballot (except it is Bridgeport). 2,000 or so town employees and family will vote ABF (anybody BUT Finch).

  3. What is with these people and John Gomes???
    From his website:
    1993 – 2002
    Domestic & International Sales & Marketing
    Managed accounts in five countries servicing products worldwide.

    This means he was a salesman.

    2001 – Present
    Sponsor for many of the City’s non-profit agency activities

    This means he owned and ran a subway and a deli.

    Where exactly is this meaningful experience that says he is qualified to run the city of Bridgeport as either Mayor or CAO???

    I am not knocking him personally. I am sure he is a nice guy, but Mayor of the city of Bridgeport???

    And did you read his diatribe on CitiStat? My lord, he simply whines about the city, whines about the mayor and does not point to great cost-cutting accomplishments.


    1. GRIN, “I DON’T GET IT.”
      That is apparent. Some do. And others don’t.
      A salesman with some success does not indicate the ability to listen for problems and opportunities to solve? A local businessman who has to put himself last in the money chain, pay for supplies, employees, insurances, licenses, etc. and hope for a profit, does not indicate someone with courage, who can take risks, who knows how to make a plan and then work it providing service to the customer?
      And CITISTAT did not give an intelligent and curious worker an insight into what may be broken, as measured by the metrics, with hints on how to fix it?
      So, the candidate you would advance for the Mayoralty has what experience, charisma, education and dedication to Bridgeport??? At the moment I don’t get your point …

      1. The light of the beacon once again shines in the wrong direction.
        OK, let’s take former mayor John Fabrizi. Experience? YES. Several terms on the City Council, Civil Service Commission, DTC.
        Charisma? Sure. Maybe a bit too much at times but he had charisma.
        Education? Teacher. Masters. Six-year certificate.
        Dedication to Bridgeport? He bled B-port.
        So if you are satisfied with another John Fabrizi then enthusiastically support John Gomes.
        Me, I want much better. Been there. Done that. Need much, much more. That is the problem with B-port. It exudes mediocrity. We should be demanding excellence!

        1. GRIN,
          “Me, I want much better. Been there. Done that. Need much, much more … We should be demanding excellence!”

          I still don’t get your point, other than pious or pontificating pronouncements on excellence!!! So show me some examples of what you consider excellence in public service, intelligence and commitment to the common good.
          I know you are unhappy about the past, but we should be able to point to the characteristics of a candidate who would encourage support, like competence, integrity and a willingness to work with lots of people.
          It appears the best you have been able to do when challenged to prescribe is to look in your rear-view mirror and denigrate past leaders. Monday-morning quarterbacks do the same! If you are looking at the upcoming game, describe your ideal candidate and why, please. She or he may be out there, incredible as that may seem. Alternatively we may have to settle for less, though not as much LESS as we are currently enduring.

    2. Ganim a lawyer—how did that work out?

      Fabrizi a teacher—how did that work out?

      Finch a BRBC worker—how is that working out?

      MJF—squeezed the Charmin and owned the Bluefish.

      Grin Reaper—Testocrat apologist who no one pays attention to and spews all negativity.

      Where are the ground rules for mayoral qualifications written? Reaper, give us your qualifications and announce you’re running for mayor if you have such big balls.

  4. In this time of financial hardship I appreciate any politician willing to cut corners. I am just wondering if it is legal to recycle campaign signs from previous elections.

    1. Mojo,
      He sure was a grocery manager and it was at a time when A & P, the company, was promoting PRICE and PRIDE as branding images. So he was cut out to be our own source of “price and pride?” How did that work out?


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