Connecticut's governor provided a brief update Tuesday on his plan to mitigate the state's budget challenges.
Gov. Dannel Malloy held a news conference around 10:30 a.m. in Hartford.
Connecticut faces an estimated $1.5 billion budget deficit for this fiscal year.
A number of cities and towns have already begun bracing for potential cuts to state aid.
Earlier this month, Malloy said they would see state aid changes in his yet-to-be unveiled two-year budget.
However, Malloy outlined "mandate relief" for cities and towns.
He said his relief package is designed to increase local control over budgets and contracts, keep down project costs, modernize out-of-date requirements and remove unnecessary red tape.
“True partnerships are built on listening to the concerns and responding to the needs of the other party,” Malloy said. “Given the challenges we face in balancing the budget in the next biennium, the state and local municipalities must continue to strengthen our working partnership – and in some respects, begin to redefine this relationship.”
Malloy said the package includes these provisions: Eliminate municipal spending cap for most municipalities. Provide for the random selection of neutral arbitrators and the use of a single neutral through an agreement of the parties in the binding arbitration process. Allow towns to negotiate employee contributions under the Municipal Employees Retirement System. Exclude 2017 state aid increases from collective bargaining ability to pay consideration. Increase the prevailing wage threshold for the first time since 1991 to $1 million for new construction and $500,000 for remodeling. Eliminate the requirement for superintendents in small school districts and communities, and remove the three-year limitation on superintendent contracts. Provide that every town in a regional school district, including prospective regional relationships, will receive the Education Cost Sharing aid ratio of the town with the highest ratio in the region, under certain circumstances. Foster flexibility for school districts on curricular instruction and professional development. Ease the process for temporary certificate holders to teach in local schools. Allow for flexible town assessment rates, with Office of Policy and Management approval. Increase antique car assessment cap to $1,000 for vehicles less than 30 years old. Defer the [Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Commission] municipal mandate. Allow CHRO respondents to opt out of mediation. Increase town clerk preservation fees and remit larger portion of revenue to municipalities.Malloy said he expected to release his whole detailed budget no later than Feb. 8.
“We all know that change is hard – many of these mandates have been on the books for quite a long time,” he said. “But it is our responsibility to routinely review and identify what is working and what is hindering our ability to deliver the best service to the people of our state. We can provide relief to our towns and cities – and this proposal is a significant step in that direction.”
Malloy has said that everything will be on the table when it comes to closing the budget gap.
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