SOUTHINGTON — Local officials queried lawmakers about budget deadlines, the teachers’ pension fund and special education at the annual Council of Small Towns meeting Wednesday.
The panel included Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, House Majority Leader Matthew Ritter D-Hartford, House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby and Sen. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, one of the co-chairs of the state legislature’s Appropriations Committee.
Klarides recognized that the state budget is finalized well after many towns have set a budget, making the process more uncertain. She proposed finalizing the state budget on April 1.
Ritter felt her approach wasn’t realistic, because the state’s income tax receipts are unknown until the middle of April. He suggested towns consider finalizing their budgets later in the spring.
Fasano, who represents Wallingford, said he hopes to keep municipal aid at the same level as last year.
“Municipal government cannot be shortchanged,” Fasano said.
Osten addressed special education costs. She said the federal government is supposed to fund 40 percent of special education costs, but the state is only receiving a 4 percent reimbursement.
“It’s time to talk to the federal govenrment,” Osten said.
The lawmakers were also asked to discuss solutions to the teacher pension deficit.
Last year, former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tried to shift some of the costs of the program to the towns but was unsuccessful. The state’s annual contribution to the Teachers’ Retirement System is $1.3 billion, but could climb to $6.2 billion by 2032.
Ritter proposed using lottery-backed revenue bonds that could generate about $1.5 billion annually for the fund.
Fasano assured the audience of about 200 municipal officials at the Aqua Turft that he would not support any plan that hurts the towns.
“(The state has) to solve it,” he said.
Read more articles like this and help support local journalism by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access just 99¢
Read more articles like this by subscribing to the Record Journal.
Unlimited Digital Access for just 99¢