Wilton officials are working the back channels in Hartford, trying to prevent state legislators from cutting funding the town had expected to receive in the form of an Education Cost Sharing Grant (ECS). While Gov. Malloy’s proposed budget eliminated Wilton’s FY-2017 ECS grant completely, Wilton board members are holding out hope that CT General Assembly (CGA) Democrats (the majority party legislators in Hartford) who are working to craft a budget will not cut Wilton’s grant quite so sharply. What Wilton will receive, if anything, is still up in the air until state officials in Hartford agree and pass a budget.

Now, say those officials, there may be a glimmer of hope, and they say Wilton residents can possibly help push CT’s legislators in Hartford by reaching out and contacting them.

Originally, Wilton was set to receive almost $1.5 million, but the amount kept getting whittled down. Wilton’s Board of Finance had thought they’d be safe to use $1.2 million as the number for what they expected to get from the state when they calculated the mil rate and set the town’s proposed budget on April 6. However, on the same day that Wilton held budget meetings, Wilton’s state representatives told the Board of Finance and first selectman Lynne Vanderslice that that $1.2 million might actually get cut in half. Then, when Malloy released his proposed budget totally eliminating the grant altogether, it completely shocked Wilton’s three Boards (Selectmen, Finance and Education).

Now, some Wilton officials are reaching out to legislators at the state level to find out what, if anything, can be done to protect Wilton’s ECS grant. John Kalamarides, a member of the Board of Finance and the former chair of Wilton’s Democratic Town Committee, touched base with both Republican and Democratic legislators while on a visit to Hartford last Thursday, April 21.

Kalamarides is a certified financial planner, and he was at the state capitol Thursday on a separate, prearranged trip to meet with legislative members of both parties as a member of the Financial Planning Association. He saw it as an opportunity to learn whether there was anything that could be done to protect Wilton’s interests and restore some or all of the ECS.

‘”The Republican [state] senators and representatives were completely blown away by what the Governor had done. The Democrats were saying, ‘We’re not going to put up with this, we’re not going to deal with the Governor on this at all,’” he relates.

In fact, Kalamarides related an anecdote that on Thursday, Democratic legislators boycotted a Malloy-hosted bipartisan luncheon, and that only Republicans attended.

With the Democratic majority leaders planning on putting together their own budget to present to the Governor, Kalamarides touched base with other Democratic contacts. “They were very positive that some of the ECS would be restored. They felt for sure it would be. Certainly not in the same amount that was there [before] but a certain amount would be restored,” he says, adding that he continues to hear more confirmation of that belief.

Kalamarides also said he was told that the new budget would get done by the end of the General Assembly’s legislative session on May 4. “They sound very firm about that,” he says.

Upon his return from Hartford, Kalamarides emailed this info to Board of Education chair Bruce Likly, (in an email that was forwarded to GOOD Morning Wilton). Now both men are asking residents to email the pivotal Democratic members of the CGA and appeal to them about not cutting the ECS grant.

“They should say how much this means to the community and to our school system; the fact that our [budget] resolutions have already been signed; that it could create a real hardship for our budget and for our residents this year,” Kalamarides suggests. “We really need that ECS grant.”

According to Kalamarides and Likly, the legislators who matter and who can be contacted are:

Rep. Brendan Sharkey, Speaker of the House:  website, email

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, House Majority Leader:  website, email

Sen. Martin Looney, President Pro Tempore of the Senate:  website, email

Sen. Bob Duff, Senate Majority Leader:  website, email

Sen. Carlo Leone, (Darien, Stamford):  website, email

Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, (Westport):  website, email

One reply on “Wilton Officials Urge Residents to Contact State Legislators about Budget Cuts”

  1. Gail Lavielle and Toni Boucher have been sounding the alarm and working aggressively, tireless trying to keep the Democrat monopoly from raiding Wilton’s coffers. To say they were “blown away” doesn’t square with the work they’ve done and regular reports they’ve provided Town leadership of the failings in Hartford.

    Perhaps Democrat legislators may finish their own budget by the end of the session (or not), but the governor will veto it if they violate any of his principles – whatever they may be at that moment or whichever interest group he’s made promises to.

    I suspect, and our legislators agree that it is highly unlikely that the Democrat majority legislators will cut as much in ECS funds as the governor proposed to do. But we must remember that they did already propose to target the same towns, and to cut Wilton’s funding by 37%. Their likely proposal will be somewhere in between. Either way, both branches of government are in the control of the Democrats and both branches have put forth proposals to cut funding to Wilton.

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