Lobbying Organization For Towns And Cities Asks Legislators Not To Weaken Malloy's Budget
By Don Stacom
March 08, 2012
Changing their traditional approach to state legislators, a coalition of mayors and first selectmen on Wednesday didn't ask for more municipal aid or the authority to levy new taxes.
Instead, their chief request was for the General Assembly not to weaken Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's new budget plan.
"The governor has really stepped up in a time of uncertainty when it comes to municipal aid and education spending," Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said in prepared remarks to the appropriations committee at a hearing.
"We thank this committee for being supportive of protecting municipal aid and also ask that you ensure no new costly mandates are placed on towns and cities," said Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, president of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.
CCM, a lobbying organization for municipalities, told legislators that even without deep cuts to municipal aid, communities across Connecticut are suffering. Any last-minute reductions to Malloy's proposal would only make things worse, it said.
"Municipalities are doing their part -- doing more with less," Glassman testified. "In Connecticut's central cities and poorer towns, the situation is increasingly grave and dire. Deep cuts in services and significant layoffs have occurred in these communities, with more service cuts and layoffs to come."
CCM acknowledged that it would appreciate adjustments in the governor's plan to raise Connecticut's share of enormously expensive special education costs in 2012-13. It would embrace an increase to the reimbursement rate for other state funding formulas, too. But overall, CCM has eagerly endorsed Malloy's plan because -- unlike governors in many other states -- he didn't slash revenue-sharing and leave communities with massive budget gaps.
In previous years, mayors and first selectmen banded together to ask legislators to block plans for rolling back aid programs. Much of the emphasis this year is on cutting a few mandates and ensuring that no new ones become law.
Among the targets this year is a law that forces towns and cities to store the possessions of evicted tenants or homeowners who have lost homes to foreclosure. Glassman said she surveyed 36 other states and found no similar requirement in any of them.
Tenants typically abandon the property left behind, and towns say it's usually impossible to recover the storage costs by selling the clothing, furniture and other possessions.
"Because of the economy, the number of evictions is up," said Glassman, who added that the expense is even worse with house foreclosures because the residents leave behind many items.
"You would think the banks would be responsible for that," committee Co-Chairman Rep. Toni Walker said.
"You would think," agreed Glassman.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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