On Sunday night the state budget was released. We expect it to be voted on in the House of Representatives in the next few hours, followed by the State Senate. In terms of its impact on public education and Connecticut students, this budget plants some seeds in support of many key areas that may grow into more significant investments in the future. This state budget was not expected to be transformational, but it ensures that a constitutionally required balanced budget will be voted on before the General Assembly adjourns its regular session this Wednesday, June 5th.
Education Funding: As expected, the ECS grant--the primary funding source for public education that was redesigned in 2017--will increase as it continues to be implemented, sending an additional $37.6 million more to municipalities in year 1 and $78 million in year 2.
The Dalio Family Public-Private Partnership in Legislation: Earlier this spring, CT philanthropists Ray and Barbara Dalio committed a $100 million for public education over five years if the state of Connecticut provided a $20 million annual match and an additional third installment of $20 million a year is raised from the philanthropic community. The state budget formally establishes The Partnership for Connecticut, Inc., a private corporation to oversee and manage this unique public-private partnership. While the money has been allocated, the programmatic details have yet to emerge, and we look forward to seeing what the plans will entail. (Sec. 183-188)
Free Community College Comes to CT: Thanks to the efforts of Higher Ed Chair Senator Will Haskell, the groundwork has been laid for the CT Board of Regents to establish a debt-free community college program for qualifying students within available appropriations. Debt-free community college may be funded through proceeds generated if the CT Lotto begins to sell tickets online. (Sec. 362-364)
Student Loan Reimbursements to Minority Teachers Established: The state budget establishes a minority educator loan reimbursement grant program to eligible minority teachers employed by a local or regional school district within available appropriations. Up to ten percent or a maximum of $5000 of the educator’s federal or state student loans will be eligible for reimbursement annually for ten years--as long as s/he remains an educator. (Sec. 262-263)
Future Study for Shared Savings and Collaboration: After much debate this session, we are pleased to see that, as a start, the OPM Secretary will lead a task force to study opportunities for delivering services done at the individual municipal level more efficiently--if delivered by OPM, councils of governments, or Regional Educational Service Centers or some other regional body. We hope there can be more work done next year on this. (Sec. 366)