Legal Action Possible in Dispute over Gov.’s Cutting of Municipal Aid

What constitutes municipal aid for the purpose of Gov. Dannel Malloy using his budget-cutting authority? That’s at the heart of the dispute between the governor’s office and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM), which represents the state’s cities and towns. It’s a dispute that may end up in court if it can’t be resolved.

CCM Executive Director Jim Finley says his group is in talks with the governor’s office. When asked if legal action is an option he told The Hanging Shad, “It’s an option that we don’t want to have to use.” Finley is at the Capital Wednesday to try to resolve the disagreement.

Under state law, the governor cannot use his rescission to cut municipal aid. He would have to go through the legislature to get that approved. But Malloy budget director Ben Barnes argues that what was cut was not municipal aid at all. Finley says it certainly is. Therein lies the dispute.

Last month, Malloy announced he would use his authority to cut $170 million from the state budget. Finley says $4.7 million of that falls into the municipal aid category including $1 million cut in grants to priority school districts, a $577,000 cut to school health clinics and a $19,500 cut to elderly tax relief. Finley wants an explanation.

In the bigger picture, $4.7 million is a smaller piece of the cutting puzzle. But Finley says his group’s objections go beyond the actual dollar figure. “For CCM, it’s the principle. We’ve fought to protect municipal aid for a very long time and we will continue to do so. We’re in talks with the governor’s people and we’re hopeful we can resolve this,” he said.

Gov. Malloy sought additional rescission authority from the legislature when crafting the budget when he first took office. He didn’t get it. Now it seems as though he is trying to get around that by just declaring what he is cutting is not local aid.

Stay tuned on this one.

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