Aldermen President: Our job is to protect the taxpayers of Shelton

The governor’s budget proposal is a cause for serious concern in Shelton and among many Connecticut municipalities.

Our concern is with the Governor’s proposed reduction of $3.8 million in ECS funding and asking the state legislature to adopt a budget requiring Shelton to pay one third of Teacher’s Pension funding and the uncertainties of future state funding of the remaining two thirds.

Teacher’s pension funding was removed from the local collective bargaining process and substituted by state law which the state agreed to fully fund but has only partially funded creating a serious unfunded liability which threatens the retirement hopes of Connecticut’s teachers. Despite the Governor’s invasive income tax increase, the sales tax increase, the gas tax increase and others; the state under Governor Malloy has continued to underfund teacher retirement payments and now he is trying to pass the buck to local municipalities.

What’s at stake here in Shelton? With a status quo FY18 budget, we will face a 1.5 mill tax increase if the Teacher’s Pension liability costs are added.

Currently, Shelton pays 91.6% of our education costs and the state pays 8.4%. The Governor’s proposals, if enacted, would make the Shelton share of education costs 97.2% with the state share at 2.8%. One has to ask how they can do this and get away with it when the CT Constitution provides that the State (not the municipalities) shall provide every student with a free K-12 education.

What the Governor has proposed is unbelievable, unconscionable and maybe even unconstitutional. There are many other ways the state can keep its commitment to our teachers without passing the buck to the municipalities. Among them are to reduce the number of political appointees with their six figure salaries and reducing the size of the state bureaucracy. Also they can change the law requiring commitments that the state now admits it cannot fund. Freeze the current Teacher Retirement plan and substitute a defined contribution plan going forward, just as the private sector and many municipalities have done.

But our job is not to tell this incompetent Governor how to run the state. Our job is to protect the taxpayers of Shelton. To that end we should look into engaging special counsel to advise us of our options and our right to pursue legal measures to safeguard Shelton’s interests. In so doing, I would suggest that the Mayor pursue this remedy on our behalf and, if warranted, seek co-sponsors for a potential lawsuit. This issue should continue to be discussed throughout our budget deliberations.

Unless you direct me otherwise, I will work with the Mayor to pursue this remedy and, if warranted, will ask your approval for legal action.