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Frey Blasts Dems' Proposed Cut In State Funds To Ridgefield Schools

State Rep. John Frey of Ridgefield sharply criticized Democrats for supporting a budget plan that would result in a steep cut in education funding for Ridgefield.
State Rep. John Frey of Ridgefield sharply criticized Democrats for supporting a budget plan that would result in a steep cut in education funding for Ridgefield. Photo Credit: Contributed

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- After the announcement of the Democratic budget revision plan to close the deficit for fiscal year 2017, State Rep. John Frey (R-Ridgefield) had strong words for the Democrats on the legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

They proposed and voted in favor of the plan, which included a large cut to Ridgefield’s funding under the Education Cost Sharing formula.

“The proposed cut to ECS funding for Ridgefield is outrageous,” said Frey. “Our town’s funding was cut over $900,000, which is a whopping 44 percent of what the state promised Ridgefield.

"To add insult to injury, we were labeled an ‘over-funded’ municipality. Municipal aid should always be one of the very last budget items cut, especially when it is municipal aid earmarked for educating our children.”

The Democrats’ budget revisions amount to $569 million in cuts, the same amount Gov. Dannel Malloy called for in his original budget proposal in February.

The governor, however, made his proposal before the nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis raised the budget deficit projections for fiscal year 2017 from $569 million to over $900 million at the end of February. On Tuesday, Malloy released a new budget plan with over $900 million in cuts.

It also included worse news for Ridgefield: Malloy proposed slashing the town's entire $2,063,814 education cost sharing grant to zero.

Despite the large increase in deficit estimates from the OFA, Democrats still chose to use the $569 million number while making cuts in an attempt to balance the budget, prompting sharp criticism from Republicans and the governor.

Republicans have repeatedly called for long-term structural changes to be made to the state budget in order to avoid facing perpetual deficits in the years ahead.

“Until absolutely every other cost saving measure has been addressed, we should not turn to cutting municipal aid for savings," Frey said. "Why are we looking at cutting funds that were promised to municipalities for education when there are other budget items on the table? I highly doubt that the Democrats have really tapped out every other area where there is the potential for savings.”

The OFA has said that while the 2017 deficit stands at $900 million, the estimated deficit for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 is $4.5 billion.

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